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Welcome to “Jewish Agriculturalism in the Garden State.”

    This exhibit explores mostly unknown chapters of the Jewish past – the striking story of large-scale farming life on four continents. Nearly forgotten in recent decades, organized agricultural settlement was a key part of the modern Jewish experience in the modern world. In fact, Jewish rural life has spanned the globe from the mid-nineteenth century until today.  

    If people have heard anything at all about Jewish farming, their knowledge is usually limited to the agricultural “miracle” achieved in modern Israel, where the desert has been made to bloom. 

    This “miracle” did not grow alone. Rather, agricultural development in the Land of Israel grew from a much larger story that encompassed hundreds of thousands of Jewish farmers on millions of acres spread around the world.  

    The fate of a song from the 1920s captures the transnational character of Jewish farming. This song, “Hey! Dzhankoye!”, was originally written in Yiddish to celebrate the Jewish farming project in Soviet Crimea and southern Ukraine. “Dzhankoye” quickly was translated into English and Hebrew and became very popular among Jewish communities in the Americas and Mandatory Palestine in the two decades before the Second World War. It inspired both Zionist youth and Jewish colonists all over the world. “Dzhankoye” is performed here by the folk group, “The Travellers”, at a concert honoring Pete Seeger, who repopularized the song in the United States after the Holocaust.

To help decode the lyrics: 

  • Dzhankoi was and remains a town at a large railroad juncture around which many Jewish colonies were established during the interwar period and many other colonists had to transit through en route to their new farming homes elsewhere in Crimea. 

  • Simferopol and Sevastopol are major cities in the Crimean Peninsula. The route to both cities passed through the Dzhankoi station.

    Browse the online exhibit to explore the Jewish farming past in the Americas, Europe and in Israel. Dive deep into the amazing story of Jewish agriculture in New Jersey, where three generations of Jews struck roots in a new country, made New Jersey bloom and began their journeys into the American dream. Take a look at exciting new initiatives in Jewish farming sprouting up around the country.