The first literary work to reflect the Brazilian Jewish community will finally be published in English, this April 2020.
Read about it here and book the translator, Merrie Blocker, to speak to your group.
On a Clear April Morning, by Marcos Iolovitch, is a lyrical and riveting coming- of-age story, set among early 20th Century Jewish settlers brought to an unknown farming experiment in an isolated corner of Brazil.
This autobiographical novel is filled with drama, joy, disaster, romance, and humor as the young hero travels from a farm, where the crops wouldn’t grow, to towns where this Yiddish-speaking youngster falls in love, studies philosophy with the Jesuits, and becomes an important member of Brazil’s literary world.
This first English edition includes elucidating historical notes by the translator, Merrie Blocker, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, on the origin of Jewish farming communities in the U.S., Canada, and South America and the contributions of Jews and other immigrants to the development of an avant-garde intellectual center far off the beaten path.
Did you know that a renaissance in Jewish farming has been emerging during the last several decades in Upstate New York right near many colonies supported by Baron Hirsch? Read all about it in this article by Leah Koenig that appeared in TABLET magazine
Baron Maurice de Hirsch
Did you know that amazon.com sells over 50 different books on the life and work of Baron Hirsch? Go to https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_pg_3?rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3ABAron+Hirsch&page=3&keywords=BAron+Hirsch&ie=UTF8&qid=1502742905
It was early spring, 1910. Sam Kaufman owner of the biggest bar in Brooklyn was worried about his sick daughters. He knew he had to get them out of the stale New York City air. Perhaps he could buy a farm. But the Catskills, where he first looked, lacked schools and he had five daughters to educate. Then he learned of Toms River, near the sea in central New Jersey, 75 miles south of where he lived in Brooklyn. NY. Toms River had reasonably priced farmland, a small town atmosphere, only 800 inhabitants, but most importantly a good high school.
Sam Kaufman became the first Jewish farmer in Toms River. He grew corn, wheat, potatoes and peanuts and also had cows. But his great contributions to Jewish farming in Toms River were his chickens. He was the first farmer in the area to raise poultry. His initiative began the egg sales that became a mainstay of Toms River’s Jewish farmers. When in 1922 vitamin D was discovered and farmers learned that adding Vitamin D to chicken feed could greatly increase egg production, this line of business really took off. Some Toms River farmers were to own more than 7000 chickens. Continue reading
This post gives a description of the novels and memoirs left to us by Brazilian Jewish Colonization Association colonists. They offer fascinating portrayals of Jewish immigrant life. The post includes visuals, links to more information and a list of references, including how to find both the original and secondary works in libraries worldwide.
Anshei Israel Synagogue in Lisbon, Connecticut , built in 1936
In this post, videos, an interactive map and many references supplement a short history of Jewish farming communities in Connecticut.
Beginning as early as 1891, Baron Hirsch supported the settlement of Jewish farmers in Connecticut. By 1928 there were over 5000 Jewish farm families in the state. The Baron Hirsch Fund and its subsidiary the Jewish Agricultural Society (JAS) sponsored these projects. The projects continued throughout the first half of the 20th Century, helping not only the Russian Jews escaping pogroms in the first part of the century, but after WWII Holocaust survivors as well. Continue reading
Entrance to the Quatro Irmaos Farming Community Cemetery
This post contains a short history of the Brazilian communities and some references. Baron Hirsch established the Jewish Colonization Agency (JCA) in 1891 to “to assist and promote the emigration of Jews from any part of Europe or Asia… and to form and establish colonies in various parts of North and South America ….”. And during his lifetime the Agency supported farming communities for Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Argentina and Canada.
But after the Baron’s death in 1896, the new directors of the JCA decided to establish additional communiities in the extreme South of Brazil, near the city of Santa Maria in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. Continue reading
The Tifereth Israel Synagogue, Alliance Community, New Jersey , Built 1884-1885
Going to the southern Jersey shore this summer? Take a day trip to nearby Pittsgrove Township, the site of the Baron Hirsch funded Alliance farming community. In May 1882, 42 Russian Jewish families arrived to form this cooperative.
Read more about it in this article from the FORWARD newspaper and this Wikipedia entry
This article ( see link below) from a descendent of an immigrant to the Baron Hirsch farming community in Woodbine, New Jersey is fun to read. But contrary to his thesis there were Jewish farming communities in the Ukraine and Bessarabia -probably other places too. In fact before the assignation of Czar Alexander II in 1881, Jewish were allowed to and often encouraged to buy land in Russia for farming.