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.
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
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.
For video interviews with American Jews who did farm go to