One Family’s Story from Europe to America and Israel
Woodbine Brotherhood Synagogue, Woodbine, NJ
3/28/2023, 1:10:05 PM
I am a big believer in recalling the past to learn lessons for the present. I will start with the guiding principal that all Jews should make Aliyah. This is our dream. Many have been fortunate to do so. I encourage and hope all can make the move.
After the Pogrom of Kiev (considered one of the worst in Jewish History) which started in April of 1881 and lasted until the winter of 1881 the Jews decided to leave Russia and Russian controlled territory in Poland and Lithuania. Many made it to Israel/Palestine at that time. Rishon L’Tzion, Rosh Pina and Zichron Ya’acov were established.
There were very few Arabs in Israel in the 1800”s. Joan Peter’s book “From Time Immemorial” documents that very few Arabs lived in Israel in 1881 and only because of the Jewish Aliyah did they come. According to Joan Peters 15,000 Jews who made up the “first Aliyah” brought in 80,000 Arabs to work on their farms and agricultural enterprises.
In order to overcome the persecution in Europe and particularly Russia, Baron Maurice De Hirsch set up the Baron De Hirsch Fund and the Jewish Colonization Association in 1891. My great Uncle Joseph Rabinowitz was lucky to be one of the 600 Jews selected by Baron De Hirsch to establish a “colony” in America. Baron De Hirsch purchased 5300 acres in Cape May County, New Jersey in 1891. This became known as Woodbine. Woodbine was officially incorporated into a borough in 1903. Because Woodbine was primarily a Jewish Settlement in America it was known as the “first self-governing Jewish community since the fall of Jerusalem” in 70 CE. Joseph Rabinowitz was the great grandson of the Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Chaver of Suwalk, Poland. Joseph Rabinowitz was born in Dretchen, Poland in 1873. He became a successful businessman in Woodbine establishing a Clothing factory. He was the mayor of Woodbine from 1910 to 1920. Since Woodbine needed a Rabbi and Shochet my great grandfather Rabbi Yehoshua Cohen of Blessed Memory was brought over from Poland by Joseph Rabinowitz. Rabbi Cohen was the husband of Alta Rabinowitz Cohen who was the sister of Joseph Rabinowitz. Because Joseph Rabinowitz brought my great grandparents to the United States my immediate family was not wiped out in the Holocaust. Many of the descendants of Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Chaver, however, were murdered by the Nazis. The barn that was burnt to the ground in Jedwabne, Poland on July 10, 1941 by Poles sympathetic to the Nazis contained a number of relatives. All told, 1600 Jews were burnt alive.
My great Grandfather Rabbi Yehoshua Cohen served as Rabbi to the Woodbine community for many years. His wife ran a chicken farm there. My mother Mollie Stern Frager of Blessed Memory grew up in their household and was greatly influenced by them.
Joseph Rabinowitz’ father Rabbi Leib Rabinowitz made Aliyah from Dretchen Poland in 1910 and died of starvation in Jerusalem in 1917. Joseph Rabinowitz’ brother Chaim Rabinowitz made Aliyah after spending a few years in America. He is the author of “9 generations” which reviews the genealogy of Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Chaver and his descendants. He passed away in the 1970’s in Israel.
This is an example of one Jewish family. It is illustrative of how we have gotten to where we are in 2023. Many lessons can be learned. The Jewish People are unique. Am Yisrael Chai.