A Chance for Land & Fresh Air by Carol Ascher
The David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village will host author Carol Ascher on Thursday June 14 at 6PM for a reading and discussion of her local history book, A Chance for Land and Fresh Air, documenting the life and culture of Russian Jewish immigrants in the communities of Sharon and Amenia. This event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing by the author. For more information call the library at 860-824-7424 or visit www.huntlibrary.org. David M. Hunt Library, 63 Main Street, Falls Village, CT 06031.
Through photographs, interviews, and research into local land records and census data, Carol Ascher’s book, A Chance for Land and Fresh Air, tells the story of thirty Russian Jewish immigrant families who began buying dairy farms in the Ellsworth hills above Sharon beginning in 1907. In the 1920s, as their children reached high school age and the poor soil had many looking for alternative income, the immigrants began moving down from the hills, many to Amenia, New York, a town directly on the train line, where the high school was more welcoming. These families joined the burgeoning summer hospitality business by building kosher boarding houses and small hotels catering to city Jews wanting kosher vacations in the fresh air. By the end of the decade Amenia was a sufficiently busy resort town to support a synagogue. Ascher draws her important and moving story of Jewish rural life in the early decades of the twentieth century from photos and interviews with descendants of Epsteins, Gorkofskys, Marcuses, Osofskys, Paleys, Rothsteins and Temkins. Similar settlements of Russian Jewish farmers took place in other rural communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, as well as throughout the United States and Canada.