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June 27, 1986 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-27

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. 4



Michigan Jews As Farmers

Continued from Page 2

they settled until the economy no
longer could sustain them by their
farming efforts. Yet their histories
remain largely unknown. It is now
time for those histories to take
their place in the saga of the
American Jewish experience.
Announcing the exhibit, which will
continue through November, Dr. Peck
made reference to the attempt recently by
American bigots to introduce anti-
Semitism into American farming com-
munities. He stated: "The American
Jewish Archives firmly believes that our
exhibit is an important source of informa-
tion which we hope will add balance to the
image of the American Jew now available
to many farmers whose contacts with
Jews and Judaism has been minimal, at
The Michigan role is vital to the
entire picture thus portrayed and the facts
introduced. The late Irving Katz wrote ex-
tensively on the subject and your com-
mentator added accumulated data in a
special article he wrote 58 years ago under
one of his pen names, Judah Gileadi
(Philip Slomovitz). Two of these important
articles are valuable appendices to the
analyses of the AJArchives exhibit.
There were several Jewish agricul-
tural undertakings in Michigan: the
Palestine colony, the Sunrise Settlement
and other experiments. Their successes
and failures are outlined in the Irving
Katz article of 35 years ago, entitled
"Prominent Names Were Associated With
Palestine Colony." It follows as Appendix
A. Judah Gileadi (Philip Slomovitz) wrote
about it in the April 23, 1948 issue of The
Jewish News under the title "The Return
to the Soil — Local Version: Michigan
Jews Find Success In Farming." It is re-
produced here as Appendix B.

Prominent Names in
Palestine Colony Project


The Palestine Colony in Bad Axe (ab-
out 50 miles east of Bay City) was Michi-
gan's first experiment in Jewish agricul-
tural settlement. It was started in 1891 by
a small band of Russian immigrant Jews
who fled from the pogroms in their native
country to the United States during the
mass immigration of Jews from Eastern
The experiment undertaken by the
pioneers failed after nearly a decade due to
several causes; insufficient means of sup-
port, the colony had to borrow money at a
high rate of interest in order to purchase
seeds, implements, livestock, and building
Also, the colony was far from a conven-
ient market and a railroad and the settlers
often left their farms to take more lucra-
tive jobs or to start their own businesses in
which they had previous experience.
One of the main figures in the Pales-
tine Colony was Aaron Kahn, born in Kur-
land (today Soviet Latvia) in 1863. He im-
migrated to the U.S., about 1887, to
Prescott, Ariz., where he ran a general
store for his cousin.
Noah died in 1950 at the age of 88 and
his wife died in 1958 at the age of 96.
In 1891 he returned to Kurland to pick
up his wife and children and upon their
arrival in New York they were informed by
the Industrial Removal Office about the
formation of the Palestine Colony in Bad
Axe. Kahn and his family decided to join
the agricultural settlement.
He bought 60 acres of land, at $11 per


Friday, June 27, 1986

Emanuel Wodic

acre, and made a downpayment of $15 on
his parcel. Upon the disintegration of the
Palestine Colony, Kahn and his family
moved to Oxford, Mich., where Kahn
opened a general store.
After residing in Oxford for six or
seven years, the Kahns decided to move to
Detroit where Kahn continued to operate a
general store.
Aaron Kahn died in 1939 and his wife
in 1952.
Joseph Malinoff was one of the pioneer
settlers of the colony. He bought 20 acres of
land, at $12 per acre. He was married to
Rebecca Kahn, sister of Aaron.
Louis Malinoff was probably a brother
of Joe. Upon arrival in the Palestine Col-
ony he purchased 40 acres of land.
Moses Heidenreich immigrated from
Kurland in 1891. Having learned at the
Industrial Removal Office in New York
about the Palestine Colony, he decided to
join the pioneers.
Through Martin Butzel of Detroit,
who was president of the Beth El Hebrew
Relief Society, Heidenreich was given $15
to make a downpayment on a 20-acre par-
cel of land, and a cow and a horse. He con-
tinued to make small payments on his
land, some as low as $1 and few higher
than $4.
When the Palestine Colony failed,
Heidenreich realized a profit of $35 for his
decade of work. He moved into Bad Axe
and established a scrap iron, furs and hides
business with his son, Louis.
Upon the death of Moses Heidenreich
in 1927, Louis continued the business until
his death in 1967.
Heidenreich was married in Kurland
to Hannah Marks. They were the parents
of Louis, Freda, Sam, Frances and Reva.
Freda and Frances were born in the Pales-
tine colony and all five children were
raised in Bad Axe.
Bernard and Esther Marks, parents of
Mrs. Heidenreich, were also residents of
the Palestine Colony during its short
existence. They moved to Bad Axe and are
buried in Bay City.
The Ellias family of Trenton are de-
scendants of Palestine Colony pioneers.
Noah Ellias was born in Lithuania,
immigrated to the United States with his
wife, Bela, in 1892, settling in Marine City.
Later they joined the pioneers in the Pales-
tine Colony.
When the experiment of the agricul-
tural colony disintegrated in 1899, the El-


Martin Butzel

lias family was the only one of the small
group that decided to remain on the site of
the colony as farmers.
About 1909, Noah was joined at the
farm by his parents and brother, Sam.
The synagogue building built origi-
nally by the pioneers of the Palestine Col-
ony was not in use for some years, and in
1910 Noah purchased the building, moved
it to his farm, and it became the dwelling of
his parents.
In 1915, Noah obtained title to the
land by completing the payments on the
mortgage. In 1919 Noah and his family
moved to Trenton and in 1922 they located
in Detroit.
The children of Noah and Bela Ellias
were Meyer, Sadie Mulias, Max, Betty
London, Jennie Aishiskin (daughter-in-
law of Rabbi Ezekiel Aishiskin of Cong.
Bnai David), Ben, and Rose Carp.
The family is associated in the Mulias
and Ellias department store in Trenton.


Return to the Soil:.
Local Version


Michigan is one of the most important
and most pivotal states in the movement
that was begun by Jews throughout the
world to return to farming.
The historical background of Jewish
farming in Michigan commenced with the
interesting experiment of the settlement
in Bad Axe that was called the "Palestine
Colony." The late Martin Butzel was the
leader in encouraging this group of
settlers. It was a short-lived experiment
which died in 1903 after a seven-year
A much larger experiment was under-
taken in the early 1930's, near Saginaw,
when the Sunrise Colony was established
by several hundred Jews from Detroit,
New York and other communities
throughout the country.
Political differences, the-hardships in-
curred by the settlers and internal dissen-
tion caused the dissolution of this settle-
ment. It ,finally was taken over as a gov-
ernment project.
Fred M. Butzel, Dr. Leo M. Franklin,
Judge Theodore Levin, Saul R. Levin,

Irving Katz

Rabbi Leon Fram, Herman Jacobs are
among the Detroiters who have shown a
deep interest in the work of the Jewish
Agricultural Society in the Michigan area.
Long before this society became active
in Michigan, Mr. Butzel single-handedly
helped many Jews who turned to farming.
He also assisted many boys who were in-
terested in farming with scholarships. He
sought to inculcate a new agricultural
spirit among Detroit Jews.
A year ago, Mr. Butzel helped organize
an education meeting in Detroit, at the
Jewish Center, in behalf of the Agricul-
tural Society, of which Gabriel Davidson is
the national director and Samson Liph is
the midwestern manager with offices in
Chicago. Mr. Liph spoke at that meeting.
The most interesting fact about the
trend to a return to agriculture is that
there are more Jewish farmers in Michi-
gan than in any other midwestern state.
Michigan's Jewish farmers are largely to
be found in the southwestern area, includ-
ing Berrien, Van Buren, Allegan, Cass and
Kalamazoo Counties.
In eastern Michigan they are to be
found in Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and
Washtenaw Counties.
In Berrien County, Jewish farmers are
primarily engaged in fruit growing. Sev-
eral prosperous years have enabled the
fruit growers to pay off their obligations on
their farms and most of them today are on a
sound footing, owning farms without
Jewish farmers in Van Buren County
largely are engaged in poultry raising, in
addition to general and dairy farming.
While they are not as prosperous as the
fruit growers, they have made considera-
ble progress and are in a better financial
position than they have been in some time.
Farmers in other areas are engaged in
general farming, some turning to truck
and small fruit farming.
Mr. Liph reports that a number of re-
cruits to farming have been enlisted from
Detroit in recent years. In the past few
years, a number of businessmen have
bought farms, many of them spending con-
siderable time in their rural homes.
In an analysis of the progress made by
Jewish farmers in the middle west, Mr.
Liph made the following statement to this
"The Jewish Agricultural Society was
established by the Baron de Hirsch Fund in
1900. The midwestern office, with head-

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