Baron De Hirsch Agricultural School

Woodbine, New Jersey, 1894-1917

archival records at

Center for Jewish History, NY, NY. inquiries@cjh.org

Philadelphia Jewish Archives scrc@temple.edu

Following article by Paul Batesel https://www.lostcolleges.com/baron-de-hirsch-agricultural-school

History

From The Jewish Farmer, published by the Baron Hirsch Fund

Baron Maurice de Hirsch, a German financier, created a $2,400,000 fund in 1891 to assist Jewish refugees from Russia and Eastern Europe in achieving economic independence in the United States.  With $37,500 of the fund, the settlers purchased land for the colony of Woodbine in southern New Jersey.  In 1894 the Baron De Hirsch Agricultural School was founded to teach scientific agriculture and to provide young Jewish people with the practical skills to become successful farmers.  It was the first agricultural high school in the nation.

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Merrie Blocker, Creator

I, Merrie Blocker, am the creator of the baronhirschcommunity.org . Relating and finding stories of Jewish Farmers in the New World, and their descendants worldwide, is the purpose of this site.

I am a retired U.S. foreign service officer. You can find my resume here. My grandfather grew up on a Baron Hirsch- supported chicken farm in northwestern Connecticut, USA. But I only learned that recently when I began to research Baron Hirsch’s support for Jewish farmers throughout the Americas.

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.

On a Clear April Morning

A Brazilian Jewish Journey

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

The first literary work to reflect the Brazilian Jewish community has finally been published in English. It is now available.

Read about it here, check out the preface and first chapter here and book the translator, Merrie Blocker, to speak to your group.

On a Clear April Morningby 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.

Jewish Farming Today

Baron Hirsch’s Work Lives On

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

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/75488/farmville

Or follow news of today’s Jewish farmers around the world through the Jewish Farmer Network.

And for more information on today’s Jewish farmers throughout the United States see this article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jewish farms are booming. Now the farmers want to grow their community.

A Jewish Egg Farmers’ Community – Toms River, NJ

welcome to toms river

courtesy tomsriver.org

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.

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Brazilian Jewish Farmers Tell Their Stories

Israelitas no Rio Grande do Sul

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.
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Connecticut Jewish Farmers

LisbonCT_AnsheiIsraelSynagogue
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.

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The Alliance Jewish Farming Community; Southern New Jersey

Tiferet Israel shul, Alliance, New Jersey alliance-tc-1425816200

The Tifereth Israel Synagogue, Alliance Community, New Jersey , Built 1884-1885. Visit a virtual tour of this synagogue here

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 about Alliance. and other southern New Jersey farming communities in these references:

http://forward.com/articles/11628/historic-community-historic-community-celebrate-00486/?utm_source=Email%20Article&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%20Article

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_Colony

Bureau of Statistics of New Jersey, The Jewish Colonies of South Jersey – Historical Sketch of their Establishment and Growth, Camden, NJ: 1901. 

1909 Jewish Farmers Fair

Jewish_Farmers_of_America_-_ca1909

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 popular of the 225 exhibits were 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. 

The Cornell Agricultural College, one of the most important agricultural schools in the United States, as well as the New Haven Experiment Station, the New Jersey College of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Agricultural College, participated in the exhibition.  In the 1935 History of the Baron de Hirsch Fund,  the author called this participation “true public recognition: American universities taking part in an agricultural exposition organized by Russian Jews.” 1

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  1.   Joseph, Samuel. The History of the Baron Hirsch Fund, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1935. p. 142. []

Why Jews Don’t Farm

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.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/everyday_economics/2003/06/why_jews_dont_farm.html

For video interviews  with American Jews who did farm go to

https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/heft-notebook/wexler-oral-history-project-collections/american-jewish