Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf
The Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School in Woodbine, NJ was not alone as a training institution for Jewish farmers. Because of the popularity of farming among recently arrived Jewish immigrants, veteran American Jews founded a second agricultural school. In 1897, Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf (1858-1923) – himself an immigrant years earlier from Prussia – established the Hebrew Farm School in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf lecturing at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 1914.
What brought this rabbi from a large Philadelphia synagogue to promote Jewish farming? Krauskopf had been engaged in welfare work for poor Jewish immigrants flooding America’s coastal cities in the 1880s. In 1894 he travelled to Russia to explore the causes for this humanitarian crisis, where he met potential immigrants, visited the Jewish Agricultural School in Odessa and spoke with prominent people, including Leo Tolstoy. During the visit Krauskopf decided that farming must help absorb the masses of East European Jews arriving in America. The Hebrew Farm School was among his contributions. The school later changed its name to the National Farm School. It trained, mostly tuition-free, young Jewish and non-Jewish farmers until the decline of Jewish farming in the region during the late 1940s. In 1948 it became the National Agriculture College and since 1960 has been known as the Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture.