Jewish Heritage Museum: Roosevelt

“From Jersey Homesteads to Roosevelt: An Experiment in Cooperative Living”

Congregation Kol Am's Adult Education sponsored a visit to Roosevelt, NJ several years ago.  A current exhibit at the Jewish Heritage Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 - 3, and Sundays from 11 -  3, that is relevant to our experience in Roosevelt.

The exhibit  takes a chronological look at the development and establishment of the experimental “live/work/farm” environment in New Jersey, which was the dream of Benjamin Brown (nee Lipchitz), a Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant.  Under various Acts which were part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, funding was made available for subsistence homesteads which was intended to redistribute population out of industrial urban areas and into rural communities.  Meeting with Benjamin Brown, Jewish labor leaders in the “needle trades” in New York, saw the chance for workers to leave the teeming city tenements, own their own homes, build a new, better and more democratic life.  Jersey Homesteads was intended to be not just a rural farming community, but a carefully balanced combination of farming, manufacturing, and self-sufficiency.   Follow the ups and downs of the journey to Jersey Homesteads in the 1930’s and the struggles of this complicated undertaking.  Marvel at the town’s carefully planned layout, and the unique Bauhaus construction techniques of the homes.  Learn about some of the earliest residents, and then follow the story as this self-sustaining community of Jewish families, with all of its successes and failures, transformed into a thriving artist colony.

            After the arrival of artist Ben Shahn, whose iconic fresco mural can still be seen in the Roosevelt Public School, artists of all mediums have found Jersey Homesteads, renamed Roosevelt to honor FDR after his death in 1945, to be a unique and inspiring community.  Today, Roosevelt is a strong multi-cultural community, proud of its past, and moving toward the future. 

For further information contact the Museum (732-252-6990).