Hello and welcome to the website of the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society!

We are exceptionally proud that our "NEHFES Synagogue and Creamery Site" was named Connecticut's 24th State Archaeological Preserve in 2007(see photo, right) and, (see below, right) that  the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the CT Register of Historic Places in 2012!    

Our rather prestigious name is close to one suggested in 1891 by Arthur Reichow, an agent of the Baron de Hirsch Fund in New York City, to replace "Society Agudas Achim" (a Community of Brothers), the name of the small group of industrious Russian Jewish immigrants who left Brooklyn under the leadership of Harris Kaplan to start new lives in Chesterfield,  Connecticut in 1890. 

Because the formation "of the Emanuel Society" has no historic precedent, we have recently come to realize that these words were added in order to created the acronym "NEHFES." With one more "h," it spells the Hebrew word "nefesh"  - which means soul or spirit, a perfect encapsulation of their pioneering efforts. 

Currently, our  49 descendant/members reside in 14 states - Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and Canada, and represent 17 of the more than 50 NEHFES families that lived in Chesterfield's Russian Jewish Immigrant community from 1890 until the late 1930's. 

Read our history and look at the NEHFES names page gleaned from the Town of Montville land records and from our precious hand-written Yiddish Ledger and Minutes Book.  This list is hardly complete.  There are many more sources: Federal Census records, tax records, cemetery records, newspaper articles as well as the  Town of Montville's School  District #12 records, all of which are being gradually and diligently entered into one of our latest projects:  The NEHFES Russian Jewish Immigrant Families of Chesterfield, CT database, or  NEHFES/RJIFCC.

We are supremely fortunate that its  organizer, Marlene Katz Bishow, a new NEHFES member and the president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, is a NEHEFS descendant !
She and Board member Rishona ("Rishy") R. Savin of Miami, FL. recently began this huge undertaking.  Once completed, the entire database will be uploaded to this and to the JewishGen.com websites!

So many descendants have discovered that their great-grandparents were part of the NEHFES community! Perhaps you will too - for the sake of  your own family's history and for your progeny!

Please join
 us in our efforts to preserve our precious historic site and legacy, a special chapter in Connecticut and in the American Jewish Experience. 

Nancy R. Savin, President

September 29, 2014 

NEHFES, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit religious organization, was incorporated in the State of Connecticut on October 19, 2006.

All contributions are fully deductible to the extent allowed by  law. 

Dedicated on September 29, 1986, our historic bronze and granite monument is located at the intersection of Routes161 and 85 in Chesterfield, Connecticut.

See the New York Times article fronm that day on the "links" page. 

Edward  D. Baker, Executive Director of the New London County Historical Society, posting the Connecticut State Archaeological Preserve sign at the NEHFES site in 2008.



NEHFES presented its "First Annual Appreciation Award" to Dr. Nicholas F. Bellantoni, Ph. D., a great friend, for his dedicated interest, concern and continuing efforts to
preserve and protect its historic site in Chesterfield, CT.

Dr. Bellantoni and Dr. Stuart S.  Miller have just announced tentative plans to return to the NEHEFS site in Summer 2015 to continue the mikveh excavation from 2013 and to  investigate the 1892 synagogue area!

After our highly successful three-week University of Connecticut summer archeologi-cal excavation with co- directors Dr. Nicholas F. Bellantoni and  Dr. Stuart S. Miller, UConn Professor of Judaic Studies in July of 2013, the fascinating story of the ancient stone  mikveh  (ritual bath) has begun to emerge.

We know that the congregation had a some sort of a mikveh from its inception in 1890, but the community house, probably built in 1907 - 8,  added the traditional  poured concrete descending steps covered with wood ( in its basement ) between 1910 and 1914. 

The University of Connecticut's press release of June 13, 2013 by Tom Breen, reveals the outcomes of the excavation.   Professor Miller  was deeply impressed with the religiosity of this rural community at a time when most immigrants were casting off old rites and rituals.

Both experts made a presentation of their findings at the annual NEHFES members meeting on April 21, 2013.    

Miriam Leberstein,  a renowned  New York  Yiddish translator, is busy finalizing NEHFES Ledger and Minutes Book - our most  precious historic artifact!  It is an extremely  interesting record  of hand written Yiddish entries from the early days of NEHFES  and includes a governing constitution adopted in  January of 1894! The translation  will be uploaded to this website and other places online and may become a printed publication.     

A Great date: February 28, 2012: The New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society Synagogue and Creamery Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

Thank you to Cece Saunders, Faline Schneiderman - Fox RPA and Julie Abell Horn RPA of Historical Perspectives, Inc. of Westport, CT who brilliantly researched
and prepared our nomination. Their efforts were generously underwritten by a grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.
NEHFES hopes to secure  a planning grant from the CT Humanities Council for a 125th anniversary exhibition in 2017, entitled " The Russian Jewish Immigrant Community of Chesterfield, 1890 - 1950." 

We have secured two venues: The Thomas  Dodd Center at UConn, Betsy Pittman, Archivist, and the Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library, Brenda Miller, Curator and Director of Cultural Programming. 


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