Bob Olinsky- Weather or not---A Trenton voice familiar all over Israel
As many of you know, this blog began less than a year ago and really started as an offshoot of an Adult Education Class that I organized at Adath Israel in early March 2011. One of the first things that I did when I set up the blog was to post pictures that I scanned at the Trenton Public Library. The first batch was of people who there weren’t any ID’s for. The second batch was of tax photos from the City of Trenton taken between 1938 and 1958. I encouraged (and still encourage people) to look at those pictures and if they stir memories or you can ID anyone in the pictures to note the Photo # and send me an e-mail so that I can add these ID’s to the Archives of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Trenton.
I started the blog on February 17th and on March 14th, I received the first of many e-mails from Bob Olinsky, a former Trentonian, who now lives in Israel. In the past year, Bob has retired after 40 years of working for the Israeli Weather Service. Last week, I got a chance to sit down and talk with Bob about the Trenton he remembers, how he wound up in Israel, and how he became perhaps the most recognizable voice on Israeli radio. We did this interview on Skype and my hope was to have video and audio of Bob, but the connection wasn’t good enough on Bob’s end to support the video, so I’ve tried to add visuals where it was appropriate.
What follows is part one of the conversation. We started with Bob’s recollections of Trenton. (Editor’s note: The first picture of Bob is the only recent one that he could find. It was taken in Italy in 2005. Bob and his wife are living in an apartment, preparing to move next year and most of their photos are in storage).
Bob mentions Sol in the interview. Sol is Sol Weinstein lived for a short time at 61 Union Street. After speaking with Bob last week, I also spoke with Sol, who told me that he thought his uncles were the bootleggers. They might have been, but apparently they weren’t the only ones. This is part one of the interview. In subsequent weeks, we’ll have more from Bob.
I’ve been asked a number of times in the past 10 months, why I, a non-Trentonian, am doing this blog. There are many reasons, but one of them is that I have had a wonderful time listening to the stories, filled with passion about old Trenton. It also has been an education for me about how powerful the Internet is as a tool for bringing people together. I’ve served as a conduit for a number of people who have fallen out of touch with old friends. To help facilitate that, we’ve set up a Facebook Group page, (search Trenton Jewish Project on Facebook) where you can register and send e-mail directly to one another. In the coming months, I hope to add other layers of Social Media to this project. One thing Social Media can’t replace is face-to-face interaction. On January 29th, I’ll be speaking at Adath Israel in Lawrenceville. In addition to showing some video from interviews that I’ve done in the past year with Trentonians, I’m hoping to put together a panel which can speak about how Trenton’s Jewish population transformed over the years. It should be a fascinating morning. Mark the date on your calendars. As plans come together, I’ll keep you updated.