This section travels through time and geography to illustrate foundational chapters in the modern history of organized Jewish agricultural settlement.
When exploring this section, you can learn how the amazing story of Jewish farming in the Garden State fit into the global project of agrarianization, from the steppes of Ukraine to northern California.
In the future we hope to expand the exhibit to include additional chapters of Jewish farming that await comprehensive research in places like North Africa, the Near East and Anatolia.
Jewish farming at first grew modestly in North America, with more failures than successes. See some of these halting experiments on the Ararat & Other Early Failures page.
The Am Olam page tells the extraordinary story of a few hundred idealistic young Jews from the Russian Empire who emigrated to North America in the desperate 1880s. In the “Golden Land” of the Americas, the Am Olamniks established ill-fated utopian agrarian communes that set the stage for the next generation of Jewish farms.
Left: Group photo of the New Odessa Community
Credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collections
The North America page provides an expansive view of how and where new, more successful Jewish agricultural colonies developed on the continent. These stories of Jewish farmers are presented on separate pages for the United States and Canada.
Left: Students harvesting potatoes at the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School, Woodbine, NJ.
On the following page, we display the proud history of Jewish farming colonies and “gauchos” in South and Latin America, where these stories still strongly inform local Jewish identities.
Left: 75th Anniversary Celebration of Moisesville, 1964
Credit: AMIA collection, Buenos Aires
Further beyond what many people today might consider possible, the exhibit then explores remarkable chapters of Jewish agrarianism in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and in Bessarabia, beginning in the early 1800s and ending in the horrors of the Holocaust.
Left: An elderly Jewish colonist inspecting a vineyard, late 1920s. Judging from housing in the background, probably in Soviet Russia.
To complete the global picture of Jewish farming in the 19th and 20th centuries, view the subsection titled, Early Zionist Agricultural Settlement in Palestine. This project in pre-state Israel shared – and benefitted from – many of the core features of global Jewish agricultural settlement.
Left: A typical kibbutz in its infancy. Kibbutz Yavneh, 1943