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
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
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 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.