Baron Hirsch’s Brazilian Jewish Farming Communities

This post contains a short history of the first Brazilian Jewish farming communities supported by Baron Hirsch’s legacy and some references. You can read about eyewitness descriptions of these communities aquí.

Disponible en Amazon or at archive.org.

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 died in 1896, bequeathing seven million pounds sterling (equivalent to $US 1.12 billion in today’s dollars) to the JCA,1  a newly elected board of trustees voted to use some of this windfall to expand JCA’s colonization activities to southern Brazil,2where the JCA purchased land in 1902.3

For those willing to emigrate to these colonies the JCA offered to ” cover travel expenses and provide each settler with 25-30 hectares [60-75 acres] of land, a house, agricultural implements, two teams of oxen, two cows, one horse and an allowance that varied in accordance with the size of the family, payable once it had become self-sufficient.”  4

Philippson (Filipson), 720 miles south of São Paulo

Homesteaders first reached the JCA’s first Brazilian colony, Philippson, or Filipson in Portuguese, in 1904. Philippson was located near the city of Santa Maria in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The JCA had not yet built the houses they had promised, so the thirty-seven families were housed in barracks. It took months for the settlers to be assigned land and, once assigned, they discovered it was very hard to farm.

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  1. LESSER, Jeff (1991). Jewish Colonization in Rio Grande Do Sul, 1904-1925, São Paulo: Centro de Estudos de Demografia Historica da America Latina, p. 24 []
  2. GRITTI, Isabel Rosa (1997). Imigração judaica no Rio Grande do Sul: a Jewish Colonization Association e a colonização de Quatro Irmãos, Porto Alegre: Martins Livreiro-Editor, p. 19. []
  3. NORMAN, Theodore (1985). An outstretched arm: a history of the Jewish Colonization Association, London: Routledge & K. Paul, p. 90  Also read an account of the status of the JCA in 1906 aquí []
  4. Falbel, Najman. "Asentamiento agrícola judío en Brasil"  Historia judía (2007) 21, p. 329. []

Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Farmers Dream

Where did it come from?

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, White House Historical Association

Dreams of turning Jewish tradesmen into farmers date back to the mid-eighteenth century and feature some strange bedfellows. Besides Baron Hirsch, these utopian efforts involved Polish patriots, Russian Czars, German Mennonites, and of course, the Zionists. Like Thomas Jefferson, these Europeans and many other eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century thinkers believed that “cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens . . , the most vigorous. . . [and] the most virtuous.”1

The idea of turning Jews into farmers to make them vigorous and virtuous was first proposed In Eastern Europe in the mid-eighteenth century when Austria, Germany, and Russia were trying to gobble up Poland. To ward off this national decapitation the Polish government sought to strengthen Polish society.  One concern was the large number of non-assimilated Jews who had settled in Poland since the 12th Century because of the relatively liberal environment that allowed them to prosper and practice their religion. Many of the Jews worked for the nobles, managing estates and selling crops.   

By the late 18th century, half of the world’s Jews, about 1.5 million, lived in Poland. The Polish bourgeoisie considered this large community of Jews to be unwelcome competitors and the general populous put the Jews in the same basket as the nobles, resenting both.  Polish leaders saw these conflicts as one more cause for the weakness of the country. They thought that if Jews would become farmers they would be like everyone else and the conflicts would cease. Plans were drawn up but were never implemented.  And Austria, Germany, and Russia did gobble up Poland. 

The areas of Poland annexed by Russia are shown in mauve, lilac, and gray.

The majority of the Polish Jews, approximately 1 million, lived in the areas of Eastern Poland that were annexed by Russia between 1772 and 1795. (Listen to a discussion on how this annexation affected these Polish Jews.)

 So when Czar Alexander I rose to the throne in 1801 he faced a dual dilemma. First, how could he populate New Russia and Crimea in southern Russia, lands recently conquered from the Ottomans following the Russo-Turkish Wars? In addition, how could the Czar integrate the one million Jews who had recently come under Russian rule through these partitions of Poland

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  1. JEFFERSON, Thomas. Letter to John Jay, Aug. 23, 1785, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (DLC) Jefferson Quotes and Family Letters, Thomas Jefferson, Monticello. []

FLEISCHMANNS

A HEBREW HAMLET IN THE CATSKILLS

Where did early 20th Century Jewish shopkeepers earn so much that they wintered in Paris’ most elegant hotel? In Fleischmanns, a summer home for wealthy German-American Jews, founded in the Western Catskills, in 1883 by Charles Fleischmann of the yeast company fame.

These wealthy summer residents drew lots of Jewish entrepreneurs, many of Hungarian origin, who set up stores, hotels, and camps to service this affluent community. Beginning in the second decade of the 20th Century Eastern European Jewish farmers, storekeepers, and summer visitors also added to the area’s population.

Did Baron Hirsch assist these farmers or contribute funds for the synagogue the Fleischmanns’ Jewish community built in 1920, Congregation B’nai Israel? The answer will have to wait until I can visit the Baron Hirsch archives in New York sometime this year. But meanwhile here is some history of this community taken from a presentation at Congregation B’nai Israel I made in July 2021 which you can watch aquí.

How did Fleischmanns become a Jewish village?  It all started with Joseph Seligmann, a Jew from Bavaria. He arrived in the US in 1837 at the age of 18.  By the late 1870s, he was a multi-millionaire, his family having made a fortune clothing the Union army.  Years later they even helped finance the Panama Canal.

In the summer of 1877, Seligmann took his family to Saratoga, NY a very fashionable resort, to stay at the Grand Union Hotel where they had stayed before.  But this time he and his family were turned away because they were “Hebrews”.  As we shall see, it could be said that this act of anti-Semitism was what caused Fleischmann’s founding. 

The Seligmann affair became a major scandal widely reported, including in the NY Times. 1. There was even a song written about it:

“The Hebrews they need not apply; the reason we do not know why; But still they do say, it’s a free country; where the Hebrews they need not apply!

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  1. New York Times, June 19, 1877, p. 1. []

La vida en una granja de pollos de Toms River

The Good, the Bad and the Worse

By Joyce Zelnick Weiss

This story was kindly shared by Joyce Zelnick Weiss. Another story of Growing up on a Chicken Farm in Toms River, by Joyce’s husband Ben Weiss can be found by clicking aquí.

Toms River, NJ, near the shore just south of Lakewood, 80 miles from Brooklyn

How did a little girl from the big city end up on a chicken farm in the middle of New Jersey?


I will try to tell you my story of living on a farm in the middle of nowhere. In the 1940s Toms River was much further from Brooklyn than it is now. Transportation was not readily available. We would ride on a bus for a few hours while passengers came and went at various stops in New Jersey. For those lucky enough to have a car it was a shorter trip.

BROOKLYN – TOMS RIVER

I was 9 years old when my father, Max, and mother, Bess, decided to move to Toms River. My father was a pharmacist who owned his own store in Brooklyn, N.Y. We lived on the top floor of a two-family house, and Bess’s parents lived downstairs. My parents were immigrants from Ukraine, and it was common to live close to the relatives and friends that one knew from the old country. So my comfort circle of people that I saw all the time were mostly all related to us.

We used to visit my Uncle Philip and Aunt Bertha in Toms River, New Jersey, on their chicken farm which they bought after selling their grocery business in Newark, N.J. Uncle Philip was one of my father’s older brothers, and he was married to Aunt Bertha.

I don’t know how my relatives ended up in Toms River, and I never did find out but, for reasons unknown to me, my parents decided that getting out of the city and moving to the country was a good decision for them and for their children. I don’t recall how long it took for us to pack up and move, but before I knew what was happening, we had moved.

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Archivos genealógicos e históricos de Baron Hirsch

NOTICIAS DE ÚLTIMA HORA:

La búsqueda en línea está disponible para los registros genealógicos relacionados con Baron Hirsch disponibles a través del Centro de Historia Judía en Nueva York. Vea el video en este enlace de Facebook a continuación para obtener instrucciones. Algunos registros completos están en línea, y cuando solo hay una referencia a un registro en línea, puede solicitar el documento completo al Centro.

Baron Maurice de Hirsch

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=524793465186555&ref=watch_permalink

More Archives

In addition, the genealogical and historical archives described below (alphabetized by city) contain reports and correspondence relating to Baron Hirsch-funded Jewish farming projects and individual immigrants who received aid from the Baron Hirsch charitable organizations. These archives are scattered around the world. Some of the holdings have been uploaded digitally – see the links below – but most are only available on-site.

Para los textos en francés, español y portugués, sugiero copiar y pegar en el traductor de Google. Realmente funciona.

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En una clara mañana de abril Lo más destacado

Prefacio y Capítulo 1

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RESUMEN

En una clara mañana de abril, por Marcos Iolovitch, es una historia lírica y fascinante de la mayoría de edad ambientada entre los colonos de principios del siglo XX llevada a un lugar casi desconocido Experimento agrícola judío en un rincón aislado de Brasil. Esta novela autobiográfica está llena de drama, alegría, desastres, romance y humor. Viaja desde granjas donde los cultivos no crecerán hasta pueblos donde el protagonista de habla yiddish se enamora, se hace amigo de hijos de inmigrantes alemanes, estudia filosofía con los jesuitas y se convierte en un miembro importante del mundo literario de Brasil. Esta primera edición en inglés incluye aclaraciones históricas sobre el origen de Comunidades agrícolas judías en los Estados Unidos, Canadá y Sudamérica por la traductora, Merrie Blocker, una oficial retirada del Servicio Exterior de los Estados Unidos.

Sobre el autor y traductor

Nacido en un pequeño pueblo ucraniano, Marcos Iolovitch Se crió en el sur de Brasil entre los agricultores y vendedores ambulantes judíos pobres. Se convirtió en un destacado poeta y ensayista y ejerció el derecho. Luchador por la justicia social, dedicó su novela autobiográfica a "todos los que sufren y sueñan con un mundo mejor".

Merrie Blocker es un ex diplomático estadounidense que se desempeñó como agregado cultural en Porto Alegre, Brasil, el escenario de En una clara mañana de abril, así como en Asia Central, Rumania y en toda América Latina.

Prefacio del traductor

Marcos Iolovitch, autor de En una clara mañana de abril, Fue un ávido estudiante de los grandes filósofos. Pero él creía que para alcanzar la "verdadera sabiduría" necesitamos abrir nuestras ventanas y observar los "sutiles matices de la realidad que nos envuelven". En esta novela autobiográfica, en la que un joven busca encontrar un camino justo y satisfactorio, vemos a este protagonista encantador y afectuoso descubrir su propia sabiduría a través de las realidades que lo envuelven, las realidades de los inmigrantes judíos en el sur de Brasil durante las primeras décadas de el siglo veinte.

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En una clara mañana de abril

Un viaje judío brasileño

Cover of On a Clear April Morning, A Brazilian Jewish Journey of Immigration

La primera obra literaria que refleja la comunidad judía brasileña finalmente se publicó en inglés. Eso Ya está disponible.

Lea sobre esto aquí, mira el prefacio y el primer capítulo aquí y reservar el traductor, Merrie Blocker, para hablar con tu grupo.

En una clara mañana de abrilpor Marcos Iolovitch, es una historia lírica y fascinante sobre la mayoría de edad. Se establece entre los primeros 20th Los colonos judíos del siglo llevaron a un experimento agrícola desconocido en un rincón aislado de Brasil.

Drama, alegría, desastre, romance y humor llenan esta novela autobiográfica. El joven héroe viaja desde una granja, donde los cultivos no crecerían, a pueblos donde este joven de habla yiddish se enamora, estudia filosofía con los jesuitas y se convierte en un miembro importante del mundo literario de Brasil.

Esta primera edición en inglés incluye aclaraciones históricas de la traductora, Merrie Blocker, una oficial retirada del Servicio Exterior de los EE. UU. Cubren el origen de las comunidades agrícolas judías en los EE. UU., Canadá y América del Sur y las contribuciones de los judíos y otros inmigrantes al desarrollo de un centro intelectual de vanguardia lejos de los caminos trillados.

Una comunidad judía de agricultores de huevos - Toms River, NJ

welcome to toms river

cortesía de tomsriver.org

Esta es la historia de los granjeros judíos de Toms River que hicieron del condado de Ocean, Nueva Jersey, una capital productora de huevos. Era principios de la primavera de 1910. Sam Kaufman, dueño del bar más grande de Brooklyn, estaba preocupado por sus hijas enfermas. Sabía que tenía que sacarlos del aire rancio de la ciudad de Nueva York. Quizás podría comprar una granja. Pero los Catskills, donde miró por primera vez, carecían de escuelas y tenía cinco hijas que educar. Luego se enteró del río Toms, cerca del mar en el centro de Nueva Jersey. Estaba a solo 75 millas al sur de donde vivía en Brooklyn. NUEVA YORK. Toms River tenía tierras de cultivo a precios razonables, un ambiente de pueblo pequeño, solo 800 habitantes. Lo más importante, tenía una buena escuela secundaria.

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Agricultores judíos brasileños cuentan sus historias

Israelitas no Rio Grande do Sul

Esta publicación ofrece una descripción de las novelas y memorias que nos dejaron los agricultores de principios del siglo XX del sur de Brasil. Ofrecen representaciones fascinantes de la vida de los inmigrantes judíos. La publicación incluye imágenes, enlaces a más información y una lista de referencias. También incluimos cómo encontrar las obras originales y secundarias en bibliotecas de todo el mundo.
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Granjeros judíos de Connecticut

LisbonCT_AnsheiIsraelSynagogue
Anshei Israel Synagogue in Lisbon, Connecticut, built in 1936

En esta publicación, videos, un mapa interactivo y muchas referencias complementan una breve historia de las comunidades agrícolas judías en Connecticut.

A partir de 1891, Baron Hirsch apoyó el asentamiento de agricultores judíos en Connecticut. Para 1928, había más de 5000 familias judías en el estado. El Baron Hirsch Fund y su subsidiaria, la Jewish Agricultural Society (JAS), patrocinaron estos proyectos. Los proyectos continuaron durante la primera mitad de los 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.

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