Welcome Letter from Our President, Nancy R. Savin

Hello and welcome to our NEHFES website!

November 2, 2017 – Riverdale, New York….

We are delighted that you found us and invite to you to stay a while! NEHFES had a great 125th Anniversary last June 11, 2017 roughly 125 years from May 6, 1892, the day the New England Hebrew Farmers dedicated Connecticut’s first rural synagogue. On May 8, 2017, we uploaded a facsimile of our precious NEHFES Minutes and Ledger Book (1892 – 1933), with its new English translation by Miriam Leberstein, to The Yiddish Book Center’s Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Archive. Click on the link on our home page to see!!!

Please click and investigate the wealth of historic information, photographs, maps, archival newspaper articles and videos that tell the story of the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society, the vibrant Russian-Jewish Immigrant Community of Chesterfield, Connecticut. Join us and help to preserve and protect our legacy and our historic site!

Let me express my heartfelt gratitude to our webmaster, member/descendant of Meyer Ruben Kirsch, Michael S. Kirsch, Professor of Law at Notre Dame, who has devoted hours and hours as well as the utmost attention to the incredible detail required in the creation of this new and exciting interactive website.

We are an unusual organization. Our members are descended from the more than 50 families of the original community that flourished in Chesterfield from 1890 – 1940. In 1986, love of my maternal and paternal family history (Harris Kaplan who arrived in New York in December of 1887, and Sarah Ritch Savin who arrived in 1892), and an overwhelming sense of obligation impelled me to erect a monument to the courage and ethical dedication of the men and women who struggled (“Hebrews Very Poor: Destitution among Baron de Hirsch’s Colony,” The New London Day, March 31, 1897) and ultimately flourished in order to benefit their children and their children’s children.

Twenty years later, in 2006, with the excellent advice of my friend, Hartford Attorney Karl Fleischmann, 19 member/descendant affidavits and substantiating historic documentation, we were able to legally reactivate the defunct New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society and take title to our ancestral site in Chesterfield. I never dreamed that today we would have more than 50 member/descendants and friends, representing 20 different original NEHFES families, who live in 15 different States and Canada! We are a family of families! The Chesterfield diaspora lives! The passion and dedication of NEHFES members is palpable!

Via the electronic magic of email and our website, NEHFES has a virtual community of descendants. Perhaps physically far from our historic site in Chesterfield, we are inextricably bound together in heart, mind and soul. We are no longer “farmers,” but rather, an astrophysicist, a neurosurgeon, university professors, lawyers, psychologists, and professionals in national media, business and medicine, as well as in a multiplicity of other worthwhile endeavors.

Our oldest NEHFES member, Gertrude Kosakow Nelson, is 98, and Marz Meisner, our youngest, a seventh generation descendant of my great-great grandfather Harris (Hirsch) Kaplan, is almost 2! Looking back, we have fulfilled the hopes of our forebears. Looking forward, we delight in our collective personal family histories, and the fruits of our research which are so handsomely displayed on this new website! We are thrilled to share this very special chapter in American Jewish History with each other and with the world.

Please join us as we continue to research, excavate, publish, document and perpetuate the story of NEHFES!

Nancy R. Savin