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New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, U.S. industrial city on the Raritan River, in New Jersey, approximately 30 miles S.W. of New York City. It is the home of Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey. It is estimated that the Jewish population of Middlesex County is 45,000 but given the nature of suburban Jewish life in northeastern New Jersey, it is also part of the larger community of more than 400,000 Jews in the area. Rutgers University has approximately 4,500 students.

New Brunswick's earliest Jewish settler seems to have been Daniel Nunez, who was a justice of the peace in 1722, about 40 years after the founding of the town (1679–80). Nunez was in business in Piscataway, a small village just outside the New Brunswick city limits. Hannah Lonzoda, a widow, lived in New Brunswick from 1750 on. In 1850 some Bohemian and German Jews settled in the town, and by 1852 about 20 to 25 Jews were living there. The Jewish population grew from 90 in 1865 to 280 in 1897, slightly more than 1% of the general population. In 1888 an influx of Eastern European Jews began, and from the turn of the century on, the Jewish population of the greater New Brunswick area continued. In 1969, two Reform, five Conservative, and five Orthodox synagogues were serving the area. The oldest synagogue in New Brunswick, now Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple (Reform), was founded in 1859, probably as an Orthodox congregation; it became a Reform temple about 1890. Congregation Ahavas Achim (Orthodox) was founded in 1889. The Highland Park Conservative Temple was founded in 1930.

The Jewish Federation of Raritan Valley, launched in 1948, coordinates fund raising, social service, welfare, educational, and communal activities "calculated to enhance Jewish communal life." In 1969, 28 religious, social, and educational organizations were affiliated with the federation. A YM-YWHA was organized in 1911.

Before 1900, most New Brunswick Jews were peddlers and small shopkeepers. A few were professionals, including some Jewish teachers in the public schools in 1893, one of whom served as school principal. From 1900 to the 1930s, most of the Jewish population worked as tradesmen and artisans. In the 1960s many Jews were practicing the professions of law, medicine, accountancy, and teaching; many were engaged in business and industry. A number were serving as elected officials in municipal government. Samuel D. Hoffman (1900–1957), attorney and first president of the Jewish Federation, served as a city commissioner of New Brunswick in 1935. Harry S. Feller (1885–1954), second president of the federation and one of the organizers of the Ad Hoc Committee for United Jewish Appeal, taught in New Brunswick High School (1908–16) and served as first principal of the evening school (1912).

The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers

The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is committed to the pursuit of academic excellence, fostering faculty research, and sponsoring a variety of community outreach programs. The Bildner Center promotes scholarly exchange on an international scale by bringing visiting scholars to Rutgers to teach special courses and to contribute to the intellectual life of the University community. The center works closely with the department of Jewish Studies offering a wide range of extracurricular programs for students and seminars for faculty. The center's active agenda of community outreach includes: public lectures and symposia, Jewish communal initiatives, the Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival, and the activities of the Herbert and Leonard Littman Families Holocaust Resource Center.

The department of Jewish Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the academic study of all aspects of the Jewish experience. Courses offered by the department, which are open to all students, address the historical, social, cultural, religious and political life of the Jewish people from ancient times to the present. Drawing on faculty from 12 departments, as well as on visiting fellows sponsored by the Bildner Center, the Jewish Studies curriculum offers over 60 interdisciplinary courses. Students pursuing a B.A. degree may major or minor in Jewish Studies. The department and the Bildner Center work together to promote Jewish Studies at Rutgers.


Hillel partners with student leadership in planning and implementing religious, social, and cultural events for Rutgers/New Brunswick's 4,500 Jewish students. While Hillel is physically located on the Rutgers College/College Avenue campus, events are run on all five New Brunswick campuses. Pluralistic events include learning sessions, Birthright Israel, weekly Shabbat services and free dinners, tikkun olam/social action program, holiday and cultural commemorations, and programs for graduate students.

At Rutgers University is an active and extremely vibrant Hillel. Its mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. Hillel student leaders, professionals, and lay leaders are dedicated to creating a pluralistic, welcoming, and inclusive environment for Jewish college students, where they are encouraged to grow intellectually, spiritually, and socially. Hillel helps students find a balance in being distinctively Jewish and universally human by encouraging them to pursue ẓedek (social justice), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and Jewish learning, and to support Israel and global Jewish peoplehood. Hillel is committed to excellence, innovation, accountability, and results.

Chabad House-Lubavitch, founded in 1978, nurtured and supported by concerned members of communities throughout New Jersey, is dedicated to the re-establishment and strengthening of our Judaic faith, principles, identity, commitment, and pride.

The Les Turchin Chabad House, a unique and vibrant center, provides a "home away from home" for college students at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Chabad House operates over 20 community service programs. The new Chabad House is proud to serve as the largest Jewish Center on any university campus in the U.S. The new complex is located in the heart of Rutgers University. Serving as headquarters for all Jewish activities, the building features: housing for students, peer counseling and drug prevention centers, student activity offices, a 300-seat synagogue, a publications center, library, kosher dining hall, student lounges and a computer area. Some of its programs include: hospital and prison visitations; holiday rallies and festivals; counseling and Social Services; and Kosher Meals on Wheels. Rabbi Carlebach, the executive director of Chabad House-Lubavitch, is also the rabbi of Congregation Sons of Israel-Chabad in Wayside.

The Jewish News

The Jewish News has been an influential voice in the New Jersey Jewish community since its founding in 1946. Coverage includes local, national and world events; explorations of the world of Jewish culture and the arts; supplements on Israel, the holidays and other topics of interest; and a wide array of feature stories. Beginning as The Jewish News, the paper merged in 1947 with the Newark-based Jewish Times, keeping The Jewish News name. In 1988, reflecting the demographic changes in a community that was moving west to the suburbs, the paper was renamed MetroWest Jewish News. In 1997, MetroWest Jewish News acquired a second newspaper – The Jewish Horizon – of Union and Somerset counties; a new name, New Jersey Jewish News; and a new focus on Jewish issues statewide.

In the early 21st century NJJN published four editions, reaching more than 50,000 households. The MetroWest edition continued to serve Essex, Morris, Sussex, and part of Union county and was mailed directly to the homes of 24,500 subscribers. In 1998, Jewish News further strengthened its position in the state when it acquired the Jewish Reporter and started publishing a third edition in the Princeton Mercer Bucks region. That edition covers the area from the Route 1 corridor to the greater Princeton area, to Yardley, Pa., and more.

In November 2000 the Jewish News began publishing a greater Middlesex County edition. With its newly acquired 14,500 subscribers, the Middlesex edition gives the paper contiguous coverage from Montclair to Princeton and from Morristown to Newark.

With its growth, the Jewish News has become the second largest Jewish newspaper in America, and the largest-circulation weekly newspaper in the state. The Jewish News' role is to be a strong, statewide voice representing the interests of all Jews as well as a weekly chronicle of the ways individuals are expressing their Jewishness both within and beyond the institutional Jewish world.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.