Every year our membership celebrates the continued existence of the shul with an annual affair that honors a member who, through support and service, has contributed to Congregation Beth Ahm’s strength and well-being. Look at the pictures from those occasions and you will see rooms filled with gemütlichkeit: people infused with a warm feeling of belonging to their chosen Beth Ahm Family.
A Piece of History…
Beginning in 1937, the Jewish Community Center’s Annual Affairs took place at the JCC and at various kosher catering halls in the area, such as Greens Hotel, the Goldman Hotel, Essex House Hotel, and eventually the Richfield Regency when they moved to Verona in 1965.
The Goldman Hotel, located in the Pleasantdale section of West Orange, hosted the JCC’s first Annual Affair on November 13, 1937. After going through renovations it soon boasted a large pool, nine-hole golf course and plenty of nightly entertainment. The JCC had their last Annual Affair at The Goldman’s in 1964, prior to the hotel being remodeled and changing its name to the Town and Campus Hotel. Today this property is home to the Wilshire Grand Hotel.
The Essex House Hotel was located on Broad Street across from Lincoln Park and had an outstanding banquet facility. The JCC typically utilized the King Cole room. It was torn down in the early 1970's.
In 1908, Louis and Lena Green purchased an old farmhouse on a 60-acre site in Pleasantdale. They converted it into Green’s Hotel. At one time it was considered the largest hotel in Essex County. Nightly entertainment featured comedians such as Milton Berle, Red Buttons, and Jerry Lewis. We’ve had many of our members, including Rabbi Aaron Kriegel, claim to have been employed by the Greens.
Irving and Ruth Green were beloved members of the shul. Rabbi Alter Kriegel wrote the following about Irving that was published on October 27, 1961:
He was a devoted son of the Minyon. More than two years ago, Irving Green, may his soul rest in peace, introduced himself to the Minyon because of the passing of his Mother. He never absented himself from the Minyon, when he was in town, from that time on.
His character was an unusual one. He had a sixth sense in knowing when someone was crestfallen, or ill at ease. In his soft-spoken manner he would seek out those of ill spirits, elevate and encourage them to go ever forward. Patience was his crowning virtue. He rarely argued. He never raised his voice. If he ever seethed from within it was never evident from without. He had the rare ability of finding some good in every situation.
His friends were legion. At the funeral services on that sad afternoon, people came from near and far. Messages are stil arriving at his Jewish Community Center from all over the country.
His married life was an ideal one. He loved Ruth with an intensity that was both rare and beautiful. He was not alone a father, but also a friend to Manny, and to Debbie, Manny’s wife. His grandchildren were his delight. He loved and cared for his Aunt Deb, and his relationship and attitude towards her was one that only an Irving Green could develop and maintain.
We, his friends of the Jewish Community Center of Verona, will remember him for the fine imprent which he left upon us all.
The hotel closed in the summer of 1965 and is now The Green Hill senior nursing home.