On a Clear April Morning, by Marcos Iolovitch, is a lyrical and riveting coming- of-age story. It is set among early 20th Century Jewish settlers brought to an unknown farming experiment in an isolated corner of Brazil.
Drama, joy, disaster, romance, and humor fill this autobiographical novel. 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. They cover 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.
This blog is designed to collect and tell the stories of the Jewish farmers that Baron Maurice de Hirsch supported in North and South America and the follow on stories of their descendants worldwide.
The blog proposes to unite many of today’s beneficiaries of the Baron’s generosity, We believe that cooperation and sharing among us could result in many inspiring and amazing ideas and projects.
We hope you will send us your stories and permission to publish them. Use the leave a reply link below. And if you have a particular question about this immigration phenomena, let us know. We will research the answer and write a post.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Baron Maurice de Hirsch, the builder of the Vienna-Constantinople Railroad, and his friends, sponsored the settlement of Eastern European Jews in many lands. Primarily they worked in North and South America. This blog presents written works and visuals depicting the original immigrants. It also relates the achievements of the descendants of these immigrants. And there are many achievements. Our forebears were courageous and ingenious people as are their grand and great grand children.
I also translated to English the first work to feature the Jewish community in Brazil as subject matter. It is On a Clear April Morning, an autobiographical novel by Marcos Iolovitch. In this novel, he relates growing up as a Ukrainian immigrant to the Quatro Irmãos farming colony in southern Brazil. Quatro Irmãos was one of many colonies supported by Baron Hirsch’s donations.
I hope you will send us your ideas to make this a richer online depository.
Did you know that today there is a renaissance in Jewish farming? For example, Jewish farms have been sprouting recently 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
This is the story of the Toms River Jewish farmers who made Ocean County, New Jersey an egg producing capital. 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. It was only 75 miles south of where he lived in Brooklyn. NY. Toms River had reasonably priced farmland, a small town atmosphere, only 800 inhabitants. Most importantly, it had a good high school.
Sam Kaufman became the first Jewish farmer in Toms River. He grew corn, wheat, potatoes and peanuts and raised cows. But his chickens were his greatest contributions to Jewish farming in Toms River. 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. In 1922 the nutritional benefits of vitamin D were discovered and farmers learned that adding Vitamin D to chicken feed could greatly increase egg production. Egg sales 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 early 20th Century Southern Brazilian farmers. They offer fascinating portrayals of Jewish immigrant life. The post includes visuals, links to more information and a list of references. We also include how to find both the original and secondary works in libraries worldwide. Continue reading →
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. They not only helped 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 Jewish farming communities supported by Baron Hirch’s legacy and some references. Baron Hirsch established the Jewish Colonization Agency (JCA) in 1891 “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 the Baron’s lifetime the Agency supported farming communities for Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Argentina, the United States 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. They were located 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
1909 Exhibition of Jewish Farmers of America, Library of Congress photo
This post includes photos and references on the October 1909 Jewish Federation of Farmers conference and fair in New York City. It was held at the Educational Alliance at the corner of East Broadway and Jefferson. The most popul.ar of the 225 exhibits was presented by the Baron Hirsch Agricultural College in Woodbine, New Jersey. Over 50,000 people visited the exhibit. Speakers included the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, the honorable W.M. Hays.
Boy in Woodbine NJ Baron Hirsch Farming Colony c. 1900 from Center for Jewish History
Check out the article from SLATE at the link below, on why Jews don’t farm. It is written by a descendent of an immigrant to the Baron Hirsch farming community in Woodbine, New Jersey. It is fun to read. But, contrary to his thesis, there were Jewish farming communities in Ukraine and Bessarabia and even Siberia. In fact before the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881, Jews were allowed, and often encouraged, to buy land and farm in Russia.