On Saturday, May 26th, 2018 I gave my talk and slide show on Jewish farmers in Sharon and Amenia at the Roeliff Jansen Community library in Hillsdale, New York. This little-known Jewish farming community was one of hundreds of such communities around the country in the first decades of the twentieth century, all made possible by mortgage loans from the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society, a fund established by the wealthy Jewish philanthropist, Baron Maurice de Hirsch. De Hirsch believed that, only by becoming farmers, would Jews be seen as productive members of society and so end anti-Semitism.
In the audience at Roeliff Jansen was a woman who had grown up in Woodbine, New Jersey, in some ways the premiere Jewish farming community, as it also contained the Woodbine Jewish Agricultural School, aimed at teaching the latest farming techniques to the sons of Jewish farmers. She surprised and delighted me by reciting a Yiddish song, Hey Zhankoye, that she had learned from her farmer grandmother.
When the woman left the Library before I could get her to give me the words, I sent out a call on email and Facebook. A couple of weeks later, I received an email from Alexia Lali, along with several links to the song.