The New England Hebrew Farmers
of the Emanuel Society
Preserving the Legacy of the Vibrant Russian-Jewish
Immigrant Community of Chesterfield, Connecticut
Established in Chesterfield, Connecticut as a Baron Maurice de Hirsch Russian-Jewish immigrant farming community, The New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society (NEHFES) built Connecticut's first rural synagogue in 1892 and flourished as a vibrant, tightly-knit social and religious congregation of over 50 families well into the 1920s and 1930s. The next generation left to start businesses and families in New London, Hartford and beyond. Although the little one-room wooden shul was sadly abandoned and burned to the ground by vandals in 1975, precious shared ancestral memory remained strong in the hearts of many local NEHFES descendants.
In 1986, Nancy R. Savin, the great- great-granddaughter of Hirsch Kaplan, the first leader of the NEHFES community, had the idea to erect a Mount Rushmore granite memorial stone on the synagogue site. Desiring to do even more, in 2006, she and 19 other passionate descendants legally reactivated the “congregation" as a 501(c)(3). Since then, NEHFES has acted decisively to preserve both the physical remains of the site and its precious legacy - a small but important chapter of the American Jewish Experience.
Read about our history, accomplishments, and state and national designations! Become an annual member and join more than 40 NEHFES member-descendants who live in 14 U.S. states and Canada, or support our ongoing efforts with an online donation.
View additional resources about the community's history, including:
Document archive, with a scanned facsimile of the NEHFES Minutes and Ledger Book (1892-1933) in Yiddish, together with its translation and explanatory information
Land records database showing all land deed transactions in Chesterfield and nearby Oakdale from 1890-1920