‘Ozzie’ Zuckerman, chronicler of Jewish Trenton

‘Ozzie’ Zuckerman, chronicler of Jewish Trenton

http://bit.ly/TJPGallery1Orvill “Ozzie” Zuckerman, 88, of Pennington, chronicler of the historic Jewish community of Trenton via his long-running column for New Jersey Jewish News, died June 30, 2012.

Born in Waynesboro, Pa., he was a former resident of Trenton.

Mr. Zuckerman was the proprietor of the Hermitage Delicatessen for 26 years and later Aamco Transmission Company in Bristol, Pa., before retiring.

He attended the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University and was a World War II Navy veteran.

He wrote “The Old Neighborhood” for NJJN through 2006, when ill health forced him to stop. Through the column he painted a lively picture of events and characters from the ’20s through the ’50s, conveying the richness and diversity of the Jewish community of Trenton.

Although he never met Zuckerman, Ed Alpern of Pennington, who runs the Trenton Jewish Project, said he owes him a huge debt of gratitude as he carries on the legacy of preserving the history of the Jews of Trenton.

Zuckerman was well known for maintaining and continuously expanding the Jewish Historical Society of Trenton’s archives, a vast collection of documents, photographs, and recordings of interviews, many of them in Yiddish.

By the time Alpern developed his interest in the Jews of Trenton, he said, “Mr. Zuckerman’s health was declining and he was living at Greenwood House in Ewing. I grew to know him, though, through the meticulous filings and audio tapes and his handwriting on the back of thousands of pictures that are part of the JHS archives now housed in the Trentonia section of the Trenton Public Library.”

The archives, Alpern said, “are a treasure trove for anyone interested in the Jews of Trenton, but without people to do the digging, the material there might as well be buried. Ozzie knew the value of the historical documents of the institutions that supported almost 7,000 Jews during Trenton’s heyday — but what struck me in going over his materials in the archives is that he was so ahead of his time.”

Zuckerman, said Alpern, “gathered oral history and stories of what life was like for the people of Jewish Trenton…. These are people that Ozzie knew and whose stories he told.”

Alpern said he seeks the community’s help in continuing the work Zuckerman started and that he is carrying on through the Trenton Jewish Project by visiting his blog (trentonjewishproject.blogspot.com) and identifying photos (bit.ly/TJPGallery1).

Alpern added that he’s been working with leaders of the Betty and Milton Katz JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks, which is set to open on the new Wilson campus in West Windsor — including president Lynne Azarchi and CEO Lee Rosenfield — “to make sure that the link to the past is not only preserved, but celebrated.”

“There are no historic signs or markers in Trenton to inform anyone that there once was a thriving Jewish community there,” said Alpern. “Ozzie’s good work has left us a motherlode of material that we can spend years happily mining, so that the coming generations might know.

“Thank you, Mr. Zuckerman.”

Zuckerman is survived by his wife, Lenora Levin Zuckerman; two sons, Michael and Daniel; a brother, Samuel; and five grandchildren.

Services were held July 2 with arrangements by Orland’s Ewing Memorial Chapel, Ewing. Memorial contributions may be made to Greenwood House, 53 Walter St., Ewing, NJ 08628.


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