2015 Fall Newsletter

2015 Fall Newsletter
2015 Fall Newsletter
2015 Fall Newsletter
2015 Fall Newsletter
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2015 Fall Newsletter of the Friends of Historic Vineland

Transcript of 2015 Fall Newsletter

  • FALL 2015, VOLUME 18 ISSUE 3

    Friends of Historic Vine

    land

    Fall Edition

    Continued on the next page

    The Jewish Community of Vineland

    Vineland, like America itself, has seen wave after wave of immigrants. When Landis founded Vineland, he hoped that New Englanders would move from the relatively harsh land of New England, to the mild and productive land of South Jersey. This did not happen, and within a short period of time, he changed his mind and decided to encourage Italians to settle his town. His efforts resulted in this area becoming one of the largest rural areas populated by Italians. However, while this was going on, another equally revolutionary migration was taking place in our south Jersey areathat of the migration of the Jews of Eastern Europe to the lands surrounding Vineland. The story of the Jews has always been a stormy one. We could start with their enslavement by the Egyptians, their subsequent release, their conquest of the area of Jerusalem, their destruction by the Romans, and so on But, to make things more simple and related to the history of Vineland, lets go to more recent times. Jews were never well accepted in Christian areas. So, over the centuries, thousands of Jews migrat-ed to Poland and Russia where the population was scarce and the area huge. At first, the Jews did fairly well, especially those involved in commerce. But in 1791, with the conquest of Poland by Russia, the Jews were confined to particular areas of the enlarged Rus-sian Empire by the Russians. This area was referred to as the Pale of Settlement. The word pale comes from the Roman word palus or post and was meant to mean

    the posted lands of the Jews. The Jews were heavily taxed and restricted as to where they could live and travel so that their economic position was not a very happy one. Because they were so restricted, they did not consider themselves to be true citizens of the Russian empire because they had to live in their own area. Because of this, the word Jew which refers to religion, also became a nationality. So if you asked one for his nationality, he would say Jewish rather than Russian. As one of my professors in college kept telling us when we complained about work in classes, Things are never so bad that they cannot get worse. And, sure enough, the Russians made it worse for the Jews in 1881 when pogroms were started. The violence of the pogroms was greatest in Poland and the Ukraine where there was a large Jewish presence. The assassination of the progressive Tsar Alexander II in 1881 gave rise to rumors that Jews were responsible which helped exacerbate the violence of the pogroms. During these pogroms thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed, and many families were reduced to poverty. These pogroms continued for years and actually increased in violence. This resulted in many Jews leaving Russia, many of them coming to America. At least 2,000,000 Jews left Russia during this period. Into this picture now enters Baron Von Hirsh a German Jew. Von Hirsh was a brilliant man who accumulated one of the largest fortunes in the world. Around the time that the Russian pogroms were started, he decided to use his fortune to help the unfortunate Jews of Russia. He donated huge sums of money to resettle Jews in various countries of the world, including America.

  • Page 2 FALL 2015, VOLUME 18 , ISSUE 3

    The Alliance Isralite Universalle, a Paris-based international Jewish Organization was founded in 1860 by the French statesman Adolphe Cremieux to safeguard the human rights of Jews around the world. The organization promoted the ideals of Jewish self-defense and self-sufficiency through education and professional development. Further, the Jews had not been able to own their own land in many cases and there was a viewpoint that all Jews were tradesmen or money lenders. To counter that image of Jews, some Jewish thinkers and community leaders proclaimed that recent Jewish immigrants ought "to become tillers of the soil and thus shake off the impression that they were petty mercenaries living upon the toil of others. In 1880, Moses Bayuk, came to Norma, New Jersey from the Russian Empire. The Hebrew Emi-grant Aid Society granted Bayuk a parcel of land near the Maurice River adjacent to the Norma train station. His property was the beginning of the Alliance Colo-ny.

    Consistent with the return to the soil concept of the groups funding the immigrants, the early settlers were given 40 acres of land per family on land that needed to be cleared before it could be farmed. The immigrant colony members had little knowledge of agriculture and so had difficulty farming the sandy south Jersey soil. Fortunately, they did receive help and training from their neighbors. But, making a living in this man-ner was still difficult so they turned to manufacturing as a source of income and a clothing factory was estab-lished. They also focused on education, building sever-

    al well recognized schools as well as four synagogues, and finally a Jewish cemetery. Other Jewish settle-ments such as Carmel, Rosenhayn, Norma, Brotman-ville, and Woodbine followed similar paths. Around the same time that this was happening, Charles K. Landis was making a strenuous effort to sell his land and had de-cided that Italians were the ones to attract. Unlike the Jews that had little experience in farming, the vast ma-jority of Italians were farmers that had become accus-tomed to farming the rocky soil of Italy. They literally could grown a crop on a cement side walk, so they were able to make farming a success on the south Jer-sey soil. Hence, they came and prospered and created one of, if not the, largest Italian agricultural area of this country. While this was going on, the Jews were creating their farming and manufacturing centers of the area around Vineland. History, luck and fate had thrown these two immigrant groups together. How would they interact with each other?? Well, since this is a history publication, lets go back to Italy and see how the Jews and Italians dealt with each other in the past. When the king and queen of Spain back in 1492 decided to get rid of the Jews, many of them went to Venice. There were so many of them, the poor Venetians had to come up with some idea of where to put them. They decided that they would have them live on the island of Ghetto, an abandoned iron working area. All the Jews of Venice were forced to give up their property and move to that Island. They were severely restricted in what work they could per-form, and had to return to their ghetto island at night. The Pope was so impressed with this wonderful idea that had been created by the Venetians, that he created a Jewish area in Rome that became known as a Ghetto. This too was under lock and key. Soon Ghettos sprung up all over Europe in imitation of the Italians. But, when the newly formed Italian nation conquered Rome in 1870, the Italian government had absolutely no interest in keeping the Jews confined to a Ghetto. Also, the Pope no long controlled the city of Rome which was now un-der secular control, rather than religious. The Jews found that the gates to the Roman Ghetto were no longer locked at night and they could come and go as they pleased. Further, the Italians themselves

    Baron Von Hirsch

    Page 2

  • Page 3 FALL 2015, VOLUME 18 ISSUE 3

    never did make any effort to isolate the Jews and could care less what they did or did not do. The Italian Jews were basically accepted as Italians, so much so that when Mussolini (who attempted to imitate his wonderful fellow dictator Hitler) passed restrictive laws against the Jews, the Italians in general did not see much reason to support them. In fact, they often resisted the attempts of the Fas-cists and Nazis when they attempted to round up Jews. In one Italian town that had been marked for the deportation of Jews, the Italians of the town gave the Jews guns, sent them up into the mountains to hide and told them to shoot to kill if needed. (But, they made them promise to return the guns when the threat was over so they would not get in trouble with the Fascists.) With this attitude, then, the mixture of Jews and Italians in Vineland was literally one made in heaven. They really had no problem coexisting. Another interest-ing thing was that Italians had a tendency to divide all people as either Italians or Americans (known as Meri-can). So, if you were not Italian, you were Merican and that included all races, religions, and nationalities. In this sense, the Jews were just another of the many varieties of Americans. As time passed and the immigrants settled down to becoming Americans, many of them gravitated to central Vineland where stores and businesses were started by both groups. By the time of the second world war, Vineland had become the shopping center of south Jersey. People came for miles around to shop in the many stores on Lan-dis Ave. Vineland had also become the egg capital of America, and the farmers market was about as successful as one could be on the east coast.

    Many people lament the fact that Landis Ave. has changed and is no longer the jewel of this area. But how many realize that so many of the stores long gone were Jewish?? Stop and think: Morvays Market, Brainans Fur Store, Berniess Army and Navy Store, Mennies; Tichners Auto Parts; B & Os deli, Bardfelds Womens Clothes; Bloms Department Store; Wares Van and Stor-age Company; Jacob Rubinoff feed store; Silvermans Clothing; Kotoks Hardware Store; and Zukermans Gro-cer Store, just to mention a few. The Russian empire prevented the Jews from own-ing land. So, even though the emphasis on