The New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society (NEHFES) was formed in 1892 to serve as a governing organization for the nascent community of Russian Jewish immigrants in Chesterfield, Connecticut. Initially supported by loans from the Baron Maurice de Hirsch Fund, the community built a small wooden synagogue and a cooperative creamery, and created a thriving Jewish-American “shtetl” of perhaps 50 families of small businessmen, summer boarding house operators, and subsistence farmers in the Chesterfield-Salem-Oakdale area. The Jewish community remained active until the early 1930s, although high holiday services continued to be held in the synagogue every Fall until the 1950s.
In 2006, under the leadership of Nancy R. Savin, NEHFES was reactivated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit religious organization in the State of Connecticut. Nineteen loyal descendants of the early NEHFES families were asked to sign resolutions to buttress the application created by attorney Karl Fleischmann of Hartford, Connecticut. Since then, NEHFES has been dedicated to the protection and preservation of both the physical site, including the remains of the community synagogue, creamery, and mikveh, and the historic legacy of the Chesterfield-area Jewish community. As a result of these efforts, the historic site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012 and was designated as Connecticut’s 24th State Archaeological Preserve in 2007.
Explore the details of the NEHFES history–both past and present–on this website and, if you are a descendant of one of the early NEHFES families, learn how you can join in our efforts to preserve this important chapter in Connecticut and American Jewish history.
Learn about the history of the Chesterfield-Salem-Oakdale Jewish community and the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society.
View the NEHFES timeline, including historic newspaper articles, photos and documents from the Chesterfield-Salem-Oakdale Jewish community.
Take our interactive tour of the NEHFES historic site, including the stone remains of the synagogue, mikveh, and creamery.
View our online photo albums of early Jewish Chesterfield sites and family members, along with more recent photos of those historic sites today.