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Longtime leader Sidney Weinstein, 99, dies
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Longtime leader Sidney Weinstein, 99, dies

Past president of GMW forerunner served in many community roles

The Three Singers — a bronze sculpture by David Aronson that stands outside the entrance to the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ in Whippany — was a gift to the federation from Sidney Weinstein and his late wife, Ethel Blanck
The Three Singers — a bronze sculpture by David Aronson that stands outside the entrance to the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ in Whippany — was a gift to the federation from Sidney Weinstein and his late wife, Ethel Blanck

Sidney Weinstein, a president of Jewish Community Council of Essex County — a predecessor of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ — from 1967 to 1969, died at his home in Brookline, Mass., on July 18. He was 99.

A chemist by profession, Weinstein, a former Maplewood resident, became active in the Jewish Community Council of Essex County in the 1950s. Prior to becoming its president, he served as president of New Jersey Y Camps.

He also helped establish the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan NJ and was its first president in 1976. Later, he served as chair of the board of overseers of the Philip Lown Institute for Contemporary Jewish Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. 

Before moving to Massachusetts, Weinstein was a member of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange.

As an active Democrat, he was elected NJ chair of Americans for Democratic Action in 1957, and served under Govs. Brendan Byrne (D) and Thomas Kean (R) as a member and as chair of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority.

Martin Fox, who served from 1972 to ’74 as president of what was then called the Jewish Community Federation of Metropolitan New Jersey, ran for Congress in 1950 and met Weinstein on the campaign trail. They remained friends until Weinstein’s death.

“We traveled a lot together and I spent a lot of time with him in Jerusalem,” where Weinstein had built a home. “We went away together in winters and did a lot of stuff together. He was a very interesting guy,” Fox told NJ Jewish News in a July 22 phone interview.

The two men last spoke a few days before Weinstein’s death. “He had had a fall and was out of it, but earlier this year he was in fine fettle. He was 99, but he kept his marbles to the end,” Fox said.

Professionally, Weinstein was retired as president of the Tanatex Chemical Company in Lyndhurst, where he developed chemicals for dyeing polyester and other synthetic fabrics. He was also an adjunct professor of chemistry at the County College of Morris in Randolph.

He was born in poverty in Portland, Maine, to Lithuanian immigrants Jacob and Kuna Leah Weinstein. As a teenager he worked as a movie usher while attending the prestigious Boston Latin School, then graduated Harvard University cum laude in 1939 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. 

During the years of World War II, Weinstein put his talents to work as a research chemist before earning master’s and doctoral degrees at New York University in 1951.

In 1940 he married Ethel Blanck, who died in 1998. Three years later he married Sima Jelin, vice president in charge of operations at the Kislak Real Estate Company, and a trustee of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. Jelin had been a friend of the Weinstein family for some 50 years. She died in 2010.

After her passing, Weinstein moved to Massachusetts to be near other members of his family. But before he left the Greater MetroWest area, he was saluted on the federation’s website by Max Kleinman, who was then CEO/executive vice president of what was then known as United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ (now the GMW federation). He noted in particular a work of art on the Aidekman campus in Whippany, where the organization is headquartered.

“Every day as I go to work, I pass by a beautiful sculpture by David Aronson given to us by Sidney titled The Three Singers,” Kleinman wrote. “This wonderful addition to our campus reminds us that when we all sing together in harmony, great things can ensue. This is the legacy of our presidents, past and present, who attempted to bring together the diverse musical notes played in the different sectors of our community into one united symphony of sound, inspiring us to work together as one community, supporting our people and the State of Israel.”

Weinstein is survived by three sons, David, Daniel, and Michael; daughters-in-law Laura Foner, Evie Weinstein-Park, and Martha Matlaw; and grandchildren Zoe, Andy, Stevie, Simon, Marina, Hannah, Ted, Ben, Kira, Max, Jonathan, Hannah, and Rebecca.

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