The Untold Story of Sandisfield's Jewish Farm Colony
by Lorraine J. German
The first Jewish families who arrived in Sandisfield, Massachusetts in 1902 were part of a plan by the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society to settle a Jewish farm colony in Berkshire County.
A movement among Jewish leaders to ease the congestion of the Jewish neighborhoods of New York’s Lower East Side had created a “back to the land” movement that advocated the relocation of Jewish immigrants to rural areas where they could become farmers.
Soil and Shul in the Berkshires traces the history of this farm colony from its inception in the early 20th century until the remaining members of the Jewish congregation turned the synagogue over to the Sandisfield Arts Center in 1995.
"The story of the migration of Jews from the 19th Century pogroms of Eastern Europe to America and finally to town of Sandisfield in Massachusetts, is a moving account of a beautiful if painful journey in Lorraine German’s Soil and Shul in the Berkshires. Beautifully written and scrupulously researched, Ms. German shoulders her way through the anti-Semitic and anti-immigration canards and the book emerges as a touching and gentle reminder of the ultimate decency and humanity of our country’s formation."
Val Coleman, playwright and author of The Sandisfield Stories