A pictorial exhibit documenting Jewish history in Fairfield County on exhibit at Fairfield University's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies

A pictorial exhibit documenting Jewish history in Fairfield County on exhibit at Fairfield University's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies

Documents, telegrams, letters, newspaper clippings, vintage advertisements and photographs help tell the story of how Jews came to settle and prosper in Fairfield County in a fascinating pictorial exhibit, now on display at Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"A Slice of American Jewish Life: Fairfield County 1654-1986" will be on display from Nov. 13 through Dec. 14. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Bennett Center, located in Donnarumma Hall, Room 245. The public, faculty, staff and students are welcome. The exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Community Center of Stamford, Conn. and the Bennett Center.

Moses Levy was the first Jew of record in the county, taking up residence in 1698, and so the story begins. In 1776, Jews fleeing British-occupied New York held the first Jewish religious services in the county. The pioneer Jewish settlers were merchants and artisans, and many came here from New York City to make a living selling clothing and ice cream, opening saloons, making cigars, and baking bread. They fueled the economic life of the county despite hardships, including limited finances, little Jewish community and anti-Semitism which made it difficult to live in certain towns. The exhibit tracks the success of Jewish people as established merchants, who opened businesses such as Tunick Brothers Truck Parts in 1948 and Rosen Bros. Market in New Canaan. The first Jewish physician, Dr. Joseph Loeb, arrived in Norwalk in 1901, while Harry Rosenbaum and Sid Karp first published the Stamford Shopper and Weekly Mail in 1935. Jazz musician Benny Goodman lived in Stamford in the early part of the 20th century.

Ellen M. Umansky, Ph.D., director of Fairfield's Judaic Studies program and the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies, said the exhibit will undoubtedly offer people a sense of how Jewish individuals and families in our region helped shape American Jewish experience. "It is quite moving to see how just a few Jewish settlers here grew to be a strong and prominent community in Fairfield County. It is essential that we do not forget our past, and understand how challenging and trying it was for our Jewish ancestors to set roots in the community."

The exhibit combines personal collections with materials from the photo archive collection of the Jewish Historical Society of Lower Fairfield County, formerly the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Stamford. It is a 20-year-old organization whose mission is to be the community's resource for discovering, explaining, preserving, developing interest in, and enjoying Jewish history of the region and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact Elaine Bowman at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066 or at Ebowman@mail.fairfield.edu .

Posted On: 11-20-2006 10:11 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 94