NEHFES TODAY

The Reactivation of NEHFES

Following the decline of the Chesterfield-area Jewish community in the 1930s, the synagogue continued to be open on high holidays into the 1950s, but was eventually abandoned and was destroyed by arson in 1975.

In the mid-1980s the loving descendants of some of the original NEHFES families decided to memorialize the former synagogue site, and a handsome Mt. Rushmore granite monument was dedicated at a September 28, 1986, ceremony in conjunction with the Town of Montville’s Bicentennial. Cantor Arthur S. Koret of the Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford beautifully chanted the traditional memorial prayer “Ayl Moly Rachamim,” and Bernard Wax, Director of the American Jewish Historical Society, and Jack Shanahan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Historical Commission, spoke in support of the commemorative monument and its history.

Dedication ceremony for granite monument at site of New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel synagogue remains in Chesterfield, Connecticut, in 1986

Dedication of granite monument at synagogue site, Sept. 28, 1986

(photo courtesy of Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office)

In 2006, with the help of Attorney Karl Fleischmann of Hartford, 19 loyal descendants legally reactivated NEHFES as a (501)(c)(3) not-for-profit religious organization in the State of Connecticut. The organization took possession of the historic "synagogue parcel" that contains the stone remains of the foundation of Connecticut’s first rural synagogue and the stone remains of the foundation of the congregation’s community house and mikveh (ritual bath). The mikveh, a small stone-stepped pool, replicates a ritually proscribed Judaic tradition that dates back more than 2,000 years to the mikva’ot (plural) found in the Roman Galilee period.  Although the abutting parcel containing the stone foundation of the community's creamery is owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, NEHFES has taken an active role in ensuring that parcel's historic preservation. 

Preservation and Research Efforts

Under the dedicated leadership of president Nancy R. Savin, NEHFES has successfully completed, and continues to pursue, numerous projects to preserve the historic site and support research on the historic community.  In 2007, the combined synagogue and creamery parcels were designated Connecticut’s 24th State Archaeological Preserve, and in 2012 were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Remains of Jewish community mikveh in Chesterfield, Connecticut

Remains of the community mikveh, which has been the site of extensive archaeological research

Previous Preservation
and Research Projects

Site Named Connecticut Archaeological Preserve

The NEHFES Synagogue and Creamery Site was named Connecticut's 24th state archaeological preserve in 2007.  Photo shows Edward D. Baker, London County Historical Society's Executive Director, posting the sign at the site.

National Register of Historic Places

The NEHFES Synagogue and Creamery Site was listed on February 28, 2012.  

Mikveh Excavation

A team from the University of Connecticut, under the direction of Drs. Nicholas F. Bellantoni and Stuart S. Miller, have conducted major excavations and research on the NEHFES mikveh.

Translation of Yiddish Minutes & Ledger Book

Miriam Leberstein translated our precious NEHFES Minutes and Ledger Book, covering activities of the community from 1892-1933.  Our document archives contains a link to the book.

Ongoing Preservation
and Research Projects

Synagogue Foundation

We are embarked on a significant rehabilitation of the Chesterfield synagogue's stone foundation to enhance and lend integrity to the historic site.

Transfer of Synagogue Parcel

We are finalizing the transfer of the synagogue parcel to The Archaeological Conservancy in order to ensure its long-term preservation.

Creamery Foundation

We are raising funds for a future project to stabilize the fragile creamery foundation walls.

Creamery Parcel

We hope to coordinate with the CDOT regarding the closing of the intersection near the creamery site and the site's possible reunificaton with the synagogue site.

The Organization Today

Current Dues-Paying Members Highlighted - Thank you for your continued support!

(Original NEHFES ancestors in italicized parentheses)

Officers and Board of Directors

Nancy R. Savin, Riverdale, NY, President & Executive Director

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan / Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin)

Michael S. Kirsch, Granger, IN, Vice President & Webmaster

(Meyer Ruben & Sarah Kirsch)

John D. Lieberman, Newport, KY, Vice President 

(Morris & Sophie Cohen / Herman Nissensohn)

Nancy D. Butler, Waterford, CT, Treasurer

(Falk & Sarah Hollandersky)

Joanne Nelson, Southbury, CT, Recording Secretary

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan)

Barbara Ball Buff, New York, NY

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch)

Lester M. Cohen, Medfield, MA

(Max & Augusta Chutroo)

Rachel Ellins Iozzia, Longmont, CO

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch)

Brenna Kaplan, Chicago, IL

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan)

John Kaplan, Marlborough, CT

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan)

Allen I. Polsby, Bethesda, MD

(Max Polsky)

Yohanna S. Willheim, Riverdale, NY

​(Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin)

Advisory Board

Nicholas F. Bellantoni, Ph.D., Former Connecticut State Archaeologist,

Office of State Archaeology, Storrs, CT

Kelley Berliner, Northeastern Regional Director, TAC

(The Archeological Conservancy of America)

Attorney Jon B. Chase, Esq., Municipal Historian,

Town of Montville, CT

Mary M. Donohue, Assistant Publisher, Connecticut Explored,

West Hartford, CT

Jerome E. Fischer, Former Executive Director, Jewish Federation of

Eastern Connecticut, New London, CT 

Dr. Stuart S. Miller, Professor of Hebrew, History and Judaic Studies

and Associate Director for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Mandy M. Ranslow, Advisory Council for Historic Preservation,

Washington, DC

Members and Descendants

Dr. Emily M. Agree, Baltimore, MD

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan​)

Ellie Rae Balatovsky, Milwaukee, WI

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch)

Ruby Lou Balatovsky, Milwaukee, WI

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch)

Marilyn Buchenholtz, Tucson, AZ

(Max & Hannah Hirschmann)

Samuel A. Cohen, Princeton, NJ

(Max & Augusta Chutroo)

Brad Ellins, Greeley, CO

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch)

Scott Epstein, Jenison, MI

(Falk & Sarah Hollandersky)

Edward Feltcorn, Fairfax, VA

(Max & Ida Rosofsky)

Ina Freifeld, Napa, CA

(Henoch & Ruth Ritch}

Blanche Savin Goldenberg, West Hartford, CT

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sara Savin)

Dr. Steven A. Goodman, San Antonio, TX

(Meyer Ruben & Sarah Kirsch)

Allan E. Goodstone, New City, NY

(Abraham & Rebecca Galper)

Ruth Savin Greenberg, Bedford, MA

(Henoch & Ruth Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin

Dennis Hoffman, Middle City, NY

(Max & Hannah Hirschmann)

Sara Hollander, Toronto, Canada

(Falk & Sarah Hollandersky)

Sheila Lorraine Katz, Toronto, Canada

(Pesach & Esther Kaplan Ribner)

Gregory J. Kirsch, Atlanta, GA

(Meyer Ruben & Sarah Kirsch)

Myron Kirsch, Sandy Springs, GA

(Meyer Ruben & Sarah Kirsch)

Steven Kirsch, Arlington, VA

(Meyer Ruben & Sarah Kirsch)

Dr. Wolff Mayer Kirsch, Redlands, CA

(Meyer Ruben & Sarah Kirsch)

Andrew Lieberman, Weatogue, CT

(Morris & Sophie Cohen / Herman Nissensohn)

Mindy Martorana, Mattituck, NY

(Henoch and Rochel Ritch)

Amy Meisner, Los Angeles, CA

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan)

Seth Mitchell, New York, NY

(Joseph & Sara Eitan)

Fred Ribner, Portland, OR

(Pesach & Esther Kaplan Ribner)

Paul Roochnik, Bethesda, MD

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan)

Myra Monfort Ryan, Fort Collins, CO

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin)

Kenneth Sagar, Irving, TX

(Harris & Vigasseh Kaplan)

Dr. Daniel Wolf Savin, New York, NY

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin)

Rishy and Scott Savin, Aventura, FL

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin)

Jeffrey and Ana Schneider, Stonington, CT

(Jonah & Mollie Schneider)

Julie Schneider, New York, NY

(Jonah & Mollie Schneider​)

Mark A. Schneider, Celebration, FL

(Jonah & Mollie Schneider​)

Jerome A. Schwell, Ledyard, CT

(Ike & Annie Schwell)

Jesse Szewczyk-Buff, New York, NY

(Henoch & Rochel Ritch)

Linda Hollandersky Walker, McDonough, GA

(Jacob & Sara Hollandersky)

Dr. Stan Wasserman, Bloomington, IN

(Jacob & Sara Hollandersky)

Dr. Erica Willheim, New York, NY

​(Henoch & Rochel Ritch / Jacob & Sarah Savin)

Join Us

We are eager to identify and welcome more people whose ancestral roots lie in the Chesterfield-Salem-Oakdale Jewish community and its interesting chapter of American Jewish history.  If you think you might have an ancestral connection to the community and would like to join NEHFES--or even if you don't have a connection but would like to help our preservation efforts--we would be happy to hear from you.  We will try to respond within 48 hours.

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Support Us

Whether you are a member or not, you can also support us by making a financial donation to help our preservation efforts.