Mark Fiftieth Anniversary of Establishment of First Jewish Farms in United States
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Mark Fiftieth Anniversary of Establishment of First Jewish Farms in United States

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A unique event rich in historic significance is to take place tomorrow and Sunday, in the quiet country spot known as Rainbow Lake on the outskirts of Norma, N. J., thirty-five miles from this city.

Fifty years ago almost to the day, forty-three families recruited from various parts of Russia, dreamers of the European ghettos, bent on convincing a skeptical world that the Jew can adapt himself to the land and can become a valuable asset to the farming population of the country, landed here and immediately applied themselves to the establishment of the very first Jewish farms in this country. The spirit animating these men and women closely resembled that of the early pioneers in Palestine.

Envisioning America as the great land of opportunity these erstwhile residents of Odessa and Kiev, victims of discrimination, oppression, out and out persecution, could see no reason why in this land they could not establish themselves as tillers of the soil. Not satisfied with being mere dreamers, they applied themselves to the translation of their dreams into reality. The result of their effort was the founding fifty years ago of the Colonies of Alliance, Norma and Brotmanville, in New Jersey. And now after a lapse of fifty years, these early pioneers, at least those who survive and their children, will assemble tomorrow and Sunday to participate in a jubilee celebration and to reminisce over the changes that have come over them in the past half century.

A picture of those early days fifty years ago is offered in a volume entitled “Yovel” about to be issued in connection with this fiftieth aniversary reunion. In this volume, part of which your correspondent was privileged to see in manuscript some of those early dreamers and their children narrate their experiences. And what experiences they were. What hardships, what privations they were compelled to contend with. Undaunted they forged ahead.

Alliance was named in honor of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, from whom the colony received financial assistance. Similar assistance was also received from the Baron de Hirsch funds.

Tomorrow, Saturday morning will be given over to registration and for the purpose of a general get-together. This feature is announced to take place “rain or shine.” At three thirty there will be a baseball game between the old-timers and the more recent arrivals. At five P.M. a swimming contest will take place in the Ole Swimming Hole—one of the relics of the pioneer days. In the evening there will be a gala reunion and dance at the Rainbow Lake Pavillion. Sunday morning will be given over to a reunion in honor of the surviving pioneers of whom there are between twelve and fifteen of the original forty-three. The Golden Jubilee Banquet will take place at one P. M. at Rainbow Lake. At this banquet addresses will be delivered by former United States Congressman Benj. M. Golder, whose parents were among the pioneers; Judge Wm. M. Lewis of Philadelphia; Joseph B. Perskie of Atlantic City, another of the pioneers, and Rev. Hirsh Masliansky of New York City.

The exercises will be brought to a close with a memorial service.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund