The Jewish Funeral Homes of Newark: Now a Single Entity with Three Centuries of Experience

by Nat Bodian


This is a brief history of Newark's first three Jewish funeral homes, which continue to exist today as a single entity at 68 Old Short Hills Road, in Livingston.

They operate today as the Bernheim Apter Goldsticker Suburban Funeral Chapel with a collective 332 years of continuous operation. Their years of longevity are: Goldsticker, 98 years; Apter, 106 years; Bernheim, 128 years.

Newark's First Serves Early Jewish Population

In 1880, Newark already had four thriving synagogues to serve its growing Jewish community: The Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, which began in 1847 when Newark had just a handful of Jews, mainly German-speaking. The Congregation B'nai Abraham followed in mid19th century with a large number of Yiddish-speaking Polish Jews, mostly peddlers, who settled in the Canal and Mulberry Street area, followed by a third congregation, Oheb Shalom, in 1860, at 32 Prince Street, and a fourth synagogue, Congregation Adas Israel, on Jones Street.

All four of Newark's first synagogues started as Orthodox congregations.

Bernheim's Memorial Chapel

As their numbers grew, there arose a need for Jewish burial facilities. Newark's fist funeral establishment was opened as a storefront operation on Clay Street: Bernheim's Memorial Chapel.

Starting Years of Second and Third

As Newark's Jewish population continued to grow, by the turn of the 20th century, there were an increasing number of 'landsmanshaftn' or burial societies in Newark and more Jewish burial facilities attracted a second and third Jewish funeral establishment.

The second was Philip Apter's on Prince Street corner of Morton in 1902, and Goldstickers in 1910 on High Street was third.

Newark Jewish Population Peak

Newark's Jewish population continued to grow through the first half of the 20th century, peaking with about 75,000, served by 50 synagogues.

However, with upward mobility, topped by the riots of 1967, the city's Jewish population no longer existed. Its former Jewish inhabitants were now scattered in the suburbs, in retirement communities in central and south Jersey, or had moved to retirement communities in Florida.

Before the end of the 20th century, Newark's once large Jewish population was not large enough to be a measurable statistic.

Goldsticker Memorial Home

The Goldsticker Memorial Home was founded in 1910 by William L. Goldsticker on High Street after the turn of the century.

After Mr. Goldsticker's death in 1943, it was operated by his son-in-law, Leo Gold, up until its merger with E. Bernheim & Sons in 1970.

The firm of Bernheim-Goldsticker was merged with the Suburban Chapel of Philip Apter & Son on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood in 1986, where it remained until the completion of its present facility, which opened on November 30, 201, at 68 Old Short Hills Road in Livingston.

Philip Apter & Sons

The Jewish funeral establishment of Philip Apter & Sons served the metropolitan Newark area, beginning in 1902 on the corner of Prince and Morton Streets. It was started by Philip Apter.

With the death of Philip Apter in 1925, the business was continued by his sons, Barney and Ellie, at the original location in the old Third Ward until 1945 when it moved to a more spacious and grander location on Stratford Place, but still within the confines of the Third Ward.

The operation continued under the founder's two sons at that location until 1960, when, following the shifting Newark Jewish population, now nearly all removed from the old Third Ward, left Newark after 58 years and relocated in suburban Maplewood.


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