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April 27 , 2009

The Land Was Theirs

Jewish Farmers in the Garden State


The Land Was Theirs is a bout Farmingdale, New Jersey, a community of Jewish farming communities in the United States established with the help of the Jewish Agricultural Society. The 50 year history of Farmingdale provides a perspective on the pressures, problems, and satisfactions of rural Jewish life as experienced in one community.

Beginning in 1919, the community grew around the small town of Farmingdale, when two Jewish families pooled their resources to establish a farm. The community evolved gradually as unrelated individuals with no previous farm experience settled and then created the institutions and organizations they needed to sustain their Jewish life. By 1945 Farmingdale was one of the leading egg-producing communities in the United States, and contributed in large measure to New Jersey’s reputation as the “egg basket of America.”

The Land Was Theirs draws from life-history interviews with 120 farmers, from the author’s personal experiences, and from a variety of private and community papers and documents. They are the pieces from which a full picture of a single Jewish farm community emerges.

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