Gerald J. Lieberman was born on December 31, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, after a hectic New Year's Eve trip to the hospital. His father, Joseph, spelled his last name Liberman, but his mother, Ida, preferred Lieberman, the spelling that she and some of Joseph's siblings used. Joseph and Ida had come to this country from Lithuania. Joseph worked for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and they lived in an “historic” section of Flatbush. The much wanted baby boy was the center of the family, which included two doting older sisters, Shirley and Rosalind. He grew fast — one of the tallest boys in nearby Public School 197 — and achieved his adult height at about the age of 13. As a boy, he was described as towheaded and gawky. Jerry did not realize that he had a middle initial until he was 15 and needed a birth certificate to get a work permit. Jerry asked his parents if they had given him a middle initial, but they did not remember. In any case, since the J does not stand for anything, Jerry likes to quip that his middle name is Jinitial.