Yesterday, a good friend and I drove to Alliance to attend the end of the Rosh Hashana service at the Alliance Brotherhood Synagogue in Woodbine, NJ. We were actually going there to view the exhibits in the Museum in the below ground level of the synague, but having discovered it was Rosh Hashana, or the Jewish New Year, we decided to attend the last half hour of the service, my friend being Jewish.
We were there for two reasons, we wanted to view the museum, which I had seen for the first time some years back when there wa a lecture on a book called "Utopia, New Jersey" by Perdita Buchan. I was so impressed with this forgotten history of Jewish farming communities in South Jersey and with this book, that I couldn't wait to bring other friends. The second reason we were there was that my friend, Barbara Spector, has relatives from the area and her great-grandmother was Married to a 'Bayuk' a famous family name in the area as the town of Alliance was pioneered by a handful of Russian Jews lead by a man named Moses Bayuk, or Moshe Bajuk. We wanted to visit the cemetery there as well, as she has family buried there.
It was interesting because part of the New Year celebration is a look back at the yar gone by and also a look back at the family and a visit with the ancestors.
There was also a photographic exhibit on a farm/school community on the German/Polish border, the Gross Breesen Project. This school made it possible for hundreds of Jewish youth to escape the concentration camps for a time, but not forever. Eventually, they were arrested and some survivied the camps, and some died in them.
Along with the original Jewish settlers who were escaping pogroms in Russia in the 1880's, much later, came the surviving families from the concentration camps, who were being helped by the original Alliance settlers. The original communities are very changed now and the history is almost forgotten except in the names of the towns and the museum, and the vibrant community still connected to the Alliance Brotherhood Synagogue. The museum is open and free and I recommend it to anyone interested in New Jersey history. You can always drive over to Parvin State Park for a hike afterwards! For hours and other info, go to the web site:
While there, I picked up ome newspapers with autumn festivals coming up, so in my next blog entry, more on that. Now, I'm off on a Camden County College trip to Winterthur!