The Honorable Gerald Weinstein, of Margate, New Jersey, surrounded by his beloved family left this life on Monday evening, December 30, 2019, to enter his eternal life.
Born in 1930 and raised in Atlantic City on Tennessee Avenue, Judge Weinstein was educated in the public school system, and graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1948. It was earlier, in Massachusetts Avenue Elementary School, that he met his life-long love, then Claire Modiano of Atlantic Avenue (near the corner of Maryland) in Atlantic City, and said often, when he looked at her framed photo from that era, “First time I saw her I knew I would marry her. I said, that one is mine.” A declaration that indeed became true.
Judge Weinstein and Claire formed a relationship as he went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts from Dickinson College in 1952—the same year the intended couple married on September 7th. That same month, the couple moved to Fort Lee, in Petersburg, Virginia, where Judge Weinstein served in the U.S. Army for two years. Upon his completion of military service, he returned to Dickinson School of Law, and earned his LL.B. in 1956, and his J.D. in 1964.
During the law school years at Dickinson, and his early career practicing law, Judge Weinstein and Claire started a family. Their first son Julian was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1955, and James Modiano Weinstein born in Atlantic City in 1958.
Judge Weinstein was formally admitted to the New Jersey Bar Association in March of 1957 while practicing as an active trial lawyer at the firm of Lloyd, Megargee, Steedle, Weinstein and Horn; he became Partner in 1964. In 1968, he was a founding member of the firm Horn and Weinstein, formed with Leonard Horn. From 1969 to 1978, Horn and Weinstein became Horn, Weinstein, Kaplan and Goldberg, the period in which Judge Weinstein’s dedication to what would become several decades of service in the interest of civic and community concerns began to flourish. During this time, he served as County Counsel for Atlantic County, Atlantic County Freeholder in 1971, counsel to the Atlantic County Sewage Authority as well as a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Counsel for two terms, as appointed by Governor Richard Hughes.
In 1978, Judge Weinstein was appointed to the bench and prior to retirement from the New Jersey Superior Court in 1995 he had served for 17 years as a trial judge, including seven years as Presiding Judge of the Civil Division of the Court for Atlantic and Cape May Counties. He presided over myriad cases, and was named by the New Jersey Law Journal among the top twelve trial judges in the State of New Jersey. A number of his opinions have been officially reported, or the subject of textbook comment. He was elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
During his tenure on the Court, he served in every division including Probate and General Equity. From 1992 to 1995, he was the designated Environmental Judge for Atlantic and Cape May Counties. Following retirement in 1995, Judge Weinstein remained involved in the legal profession as an arbitrator and mediator, and in 1997 returned as Special Counsel to the firm he had founded. His time and energy continued to flow to his many civil and philanthropic interests. In 1998, Judge Weinstein received the honor Professional Lawyer of the Year from the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Stockton College.
While his professional and community interests and accomplishments could fill chapters, primary to Judge Weinstein’s life has been his love and support of Israel. Perhaps above all, to his family and close friends, Judge Weinstein will be remembered for his spirit of tzedakah –a Hebrew term that literally means “justice,” but with a special emphasis on charity, such that the one who gives benefits as much as if not more than the one who receives.
Judge Weinstein will be remembered, first and foremost, for embodying tzedakah, as he has made an impact on many lives, locally and in Israel.
Judge Weinstein served as a member of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, and as President of the Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Atlantic County and Chairman of both the UJA/Federation annual campaign and the State of Israel Bonds campaign for both Atlantic and Cape May Counties. He was a founding member of the Atlantic County Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, founding member Board of Directors of Shalom House, and founding member of the Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton College of New Jersey, of which he was also Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council from 1989-1994. He also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel and as a member of the Boards of United Israel Appeal and United Jewish Appeal. The list is not complete, as Judge Weinstein and his wife Claire, who survives him, have planted seeds that continue to nourish communities and Jewish organizations, both locally and abroad, they have supported in Israel and locally.
In honor of his great contribution to the ongoing support of Ethiopian Jews in Arad, Israel, Judge Weinstein has been awarded Honorary Citizenship by the City of Arad, and loved most his visits to Israel, and the community he supported, which could not be named without bringing tears to Judge Weinstein’s eyes.
At home, Judge Weinstein was instrumental in founding Shalom House, the idea of which came in 1970 when along with Murray Schneier and Harry Brown, Judge Weinstein wondered what would become of aging Jews who lived in the inlet section of Atlantic City displaced by the casinos.
Judge Weinstein was also active in the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center, and in his role as past President of the JCC referred to the organization as “the center of Jewish life on this island,” to which in an Atlantic City Press article, Associate Executive Director Marg Mancuso told the Press, “The JCC is 100 years old, and he’s been a member for 75 of them.”
Judge Weinstein, a member of Shirat Hayam synagogue of Ventnor, is survived by his wife, Claire, his son Julian and his partner Lauren Gonzalez, and his son James and wife Beverly Weiss. The family asks that donations be made in honor of Judge Gerald Weinstein, to the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University, and the Milton and Betty Katz JCC.
Funeral service will be held for Judge Weinstein on Friday, January 3, 2020 at 10:30 a.m., at Shirat Hayam Synagogue in Ventnor. Burial will follow in the Ateres Tzvi section of the Rodef Sholom Cemetery.