is situated in Cumberland county, on the New
Jersey Southern Railroad.
It was founded by the Hebrew Emigrant Aid
Society of New York, 6 families having been sent
to the northern part of Rosenhayn in 1883 as an
outlet for population overflow from
Alliance. Unlike Alliance, Rosenhayn did
not receive continued support. These
initial settlers shortly abandoned the colony.
In 1887, other Jewish families bought land near
In the following year, 37 additional families
settled in the neighborhood. They were
sold farm land on the condition that they should
build houses and cultivate a certain part of
their holdings within a specified time. This
agreement imposed hardships on the colonists;
for, in order to meet their payments, they had
to work at tailoring, often
as far away as Philadelphia or Camden.
These settlers could not devote
themselves to agriculture
For some time they lived and toiled in a large
wooden building opposite the Rosenhayn railway
station. By the latter part of 1889 the Jewish
settlers owned 1,912 acres at Rosenhayn, of
which, however, only 261 acres were under
cultivation—producing chiefly berries, corn, and
grapes. There were 67 families, living in 23
houses, 6 of which were built by local Jewish
carpenters. The population at that time amounted
to 294, comprising 149 males and 145 females.
Sixty of the children attended the public
school. In this community there are 47
families, who derived a living wholly or in part
from their farms, and who hold a total of 1,388
acres, of which 948 are under cultivation.
Here, as at the other successful southern New
Jersey Jewish colonies, there are factories,
where a portion of the people earn most of their
living expenses, thus furnishing a local market
that pays a fair price for their products and
enabling them to avoid the expensive freight
rates and commissions attaching to the sale of
produce elsewhere. Rosenhayn had a
clothing factory and a brick yard, and
manufactures to some extent tinware and hoisery.
Jewish life in the community evolved
around the synagogue and religious school.
Rosenhayn synagogue, Congregation Or
Yisroel, was erected about 1898.
It is sometimes referred to as a
It is one of only seven
synagogues in the state remaining from
the nineteenth century. Other than the
Star of David high in the gable
end, there is no indication this is a
house of worship. The
irregularly-placed windows probably
means there is a gallery or balcony.
synagogue is a tiny one-room
shul. It is located miles
away from any population center,
which poses the question of how
the early settlers got to services
since the Orthodox sects are not
permitted to ride on the Sabbath.
The farms were apparently smaller
than, with plots of only a few
acres, or even less, so we can
assume that the population density
was greater a century ago than
one of fewer than a hundred
buildings in the United
States. It is still in
operation as Congregation Beth
Israel or the "Garton Road
Synagogue of Carmel
Constructed during years between
1901 and 1907, it is significant in the
history of the immigration of Russian Jews
to South Jersey under the aegis of Baron
de Hirsch and the Hebrew Jewish
Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society.
Since it was built, it had been in
constant use by the Orthodox Jews of the
area. In 2008, the congregation
merged with Congregation Beth Abraham of
Bridgeton. While Beth Hillel was
formerly an Orthodox congregation, it
reopened as a progressive community that
espoused the traditions of Reform Judaism.
Congregation Beth Abraham, although
originally a conservative group, also
adopted a more liberal perspective - more
specifically, the Reconstructionist
movement - in the mid-1980s.
Permission to reprint
granted by Allen Meyers on March 8, 2018
Southern New Jersey
Synagogues: A Social History - Highlighted
by Stories of Jewish Life form the 1880's
Author: Allen Meyers
NJ Staples, 1991
and lies in Cumberland county, in the southern
part of the state, midway between Bridgeton and
Millville, about three miles to the south of
Seventeen Russo-Jewish farmers settled here in
1882. A year or two after the settlement,
7 of the original immigrants, discouraged by the
poor results, left the colony, but their places
were soon filled by others who came from western
Russia. This second effort at colonization
was supported initially by the Montefiore
Agricultural Aid Society (MAAS). MAAS
advocated the resources of the colony, such as
farming equipment, be held communally. In
1889, the colony contained 286 persons, of whom
150 were men and boys and 136 women and girls,
living in 30 houses.
The farms comprised 864 acres, of which the
Jewish colonists occupied 848 acres, although
only 123 were under cultivation. Corn, rye,
buck-wheat, vegetables, and berries were the
chief crops. During the winter the farmers
supported themselves by tailoring. In the latter
part of 1889, owing to a gift of $5,000 by Baron
Maurice de Hirsch, 1,500 additional acres of
land were purchased, and 36 new houses erected.
The condition of the colony at Carmel had
been one of varying prosperity and depression.
Outside aid, either by the establishment of
local industries, by liberal loans on mortgage
at a low rate of interest, or even by direct
gifts, was necessary from time to time to enable
the colony to exist. In 1900, Carmel
contained, 89 Jewish families, whose members
aggregated 471 persons. The number of families
engaged exclusively in farming is 19; 14 combine
farming and tailoring, 13 are engaged in
farming, 23 in trades other than tailoring, and
33 earn their living exclusively by tailoring.
These families owned 1,029 acres of land, of
which 113 are devoted to fruit-growing, 504 to
raising market produce, while the remaining land
is devoted to pasture or fodder. Of the
dwelling-houses, 46 were occupied, together with
86 barns and other outbuildings.
In the community, several factories had been
established mainly for the manufacture of
clothing. These factories provided the
employment that was the principal source of
income for many settlers. Carmel had a
clothing factory, and two others where ladies’
waists and wrappers are manufactured.
these rural tailors of Carmel radicalism seemed
to take hold. Some tried to deliver
socialist lectures and roused factory workers to
strike. A consumers' cooperative, a
farmers' cooperative and producers (factory)
was close knit with many participating in
discussion groups, amateur concerts and
operettas such as the Yiddish "Bar
Kochba". On Simchat Torah, there were
annual torchlight parades from the community
hall to the synagogue. On July 4th, the
festivities included a baseball game.