Edited by Betty N. Hoffman
The history since colonial times of Jews in Connecticut is explored in a fascinating collection of essays by historians and community members. Following is an excerpt that may be of interest:
“Connecticuts’s Jewish Farmers, ” by Mary M. Donahue and Briann G Greenfield, Phd
Though forbidden to own land in the Russian Empire, Jews still still came to America in the 1890’s with some agricultural skills gained through cattle dealing, tenant farming or raising cows, goats and chickens… The most significant support for Jewish farming in Connecticut came from Europe. Baron Maurice de Hirsch, a wealthy German-Jewish philanthropist, was a strong proponent of the Jewish “Back to the Land” movement, an international effort to resettle persecuted Jews in rural colonies that stressed the redemptive nature of farm life. In the United States, the Baron de Hirsch Fund devoted significant financial resources to the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society (JAIAS), later name the Jewish Agricultural Society (JAS).
They started by establishing two Jewish owned and run farms encompassing several villages and towns. Then, in 1908, JAS revamped its assistance program to include four innovative pilot programs that would prove themselves essential building blocks in the success of Jewish farmers. These included the introductions of the Extension Department (responsible for a network of paid, Yiddish-speaking Jewish farm agents), the Employment Bureau that placed Jews on working farms for wages and to gain agricultural experience, Agricultural Education Scholarships for the American-born farm children and the publication of the Jewish Farmer magazine…
Check out the rest of this interesting story and other pieces in this worthwhile collection!