Welcome to the JHSFC

The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County provides historical and educational materials and information about the Jewish community of Fairfield County and serves the community through its membership and its archival resources.

↪Click HERE for Annual Membership.

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JHSFC Mission Statement


The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County strives to build intergenerational community through sharing and preserving Jewish history, heritage, and culture. We tell the story of the human experience through Jewish eyes.



↪Click HERE to view our current newsletter
for our exciting 2022 programs.


JHSFC News

JHSFC Award Grant from Stamford Arts and Culture Commission

Stamford Arts and Culture Commission designated JHSFC as a winner of a grant for production of a travelling exhibit, "It Happened Here."

Mayor David Martin and the Stamford Arts and Culture Commission announced the winners of the 2021 Stamford Arts and Culture (SAC) Grant on January 25, 2021.

According to Eva Weller, grant project manager, "The JHSFC will draw on its more than 5,000 photographs and over 250 oral histories in the design of this exhibit, which will consist of seven pull-up panels (each at 33" width and 78" height) to cover such topics as immigration, civil rights, and women's accomplishments. Even with this grant, we need your help to bring this exhibit to its full completion. Please consider donating to this project."

Mayor David Martin said in a release "Stamford's arts venues and programs have provided immense value to our community this past year, and I am glad we can continue supporting the work they provide to our residents. I know I look forward to many of these programs as defining experiences to Stamford's cultural identity and I look forward to their work this year."





Remembering The Family Store


The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County announces that the presentation of the Making of Our Documentary is now available to everyone on YouTube. Even though the documentary itself is still in production, you can see the amazing three-minute trailer and get a good idea of what the documentary will be like.

If you missed the live production or want to see it again, it is now available at the link provided below. You can discover (or re-discover) how the documentary originated, the personal connections of Lester Sharlach, Gail G. Trell, and Steve Karp, and hear how the award-winning filmmaker, Marge Costa, has created the production. Enjoy and please share with anyone you know who would want to see it.

↪Click HERE to Enjoy on the JHSFC YouTube Channel and Share!



Publications

communitiesbookcover

The Jewish Communities of Greater Stamford

This publication presents a broad historical view of the Jewish people of Stamford, Darien, and New Canaan, Connecticut and Pound Ridge, New York from the era just prior to the American Revolution to the 1900s.

50yrscover

An American Jewish Community 50 Years, 1889-1939: The Sociology of the Jewish Community in Stamford, CT.

This book, authored by Samuel Koenig, Ph.D., offers a unique study documenting the Jewish community of Stamford from 1889 to 1939.


What's Your Story?

Bridging Yesterday and Tomorrow,
Will You Be Part of the Story?


The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County is one of the largest secular Jewish organizations in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

As we are approaching the United States Semiquincentennial and JHSFC 40+ year anniversary, we invite you to join us.

We need your help in telling your community's story so that we can together explore it further, preserve it and share it. Who were the first Jews in your community? Why did they come, what did they accomplish? How did the community change and grow? Who were and are the Jewish movers and shakers in the Jewish and overall community? What Jewish institutions were established? Through our archives in Fairfield County and our programs, library, traveling exhibit and oral/video history projects we discover and maintain our communities' collective memory dating back to the first recorded Jewish presence in our area in the late 1600's.

Help us capture your special story, so your community will be included in the greater story that is the Jewish story of Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Diaries, emigration documents, household objects, legal documents, letters, obituaries, postcards, posters recipes, scrapbooks vintage clothing, photographs and film clips of family and community events . . .

For information contact JHSFC:
Phone: (203) 359-2196
Email: archives@jhsfc-ct.org





Archive News

The Archive is closed for winter break.

It will re-open by appointment only in mid-February 2022.

Please feel free to contact the archive for an appointment. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

phone: (203) 359-2196
email: archives@jhsfc-ct.org


A Tribute to Carl Bennett


We were saddened to hear of Carl Bennett's passing on Dec. 23 in his home at age 101. A resident of Stamford and then Greenwich, Carl was a pillar in the Jewish Community.

The founder of Caldor Stores named from Carl and his wife Dorothy grew to 70 stores by 1981. A great philanthropist he and his family have been major donors to healthcare and educational institutions. The Bennett family's support of Stamford Hospital resulted in the naming of the "Bennett Medical Center" in 2018. Significant contributions were made to Fairfield University for the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, Greenwich Hospital, Jewish Senior Services in Fairfield and Bridgeport, The Weitzmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, and Yeshiva University in New York.

↪Click HERE to view "Carl Bennett Oral History" from the Archives at the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County.


Discover the Archive

Have you ever wondered what we have been collecting for 40 years in our Archives?

Do you want to know about our exciting current projects?

Join us for a Virtual Discovery Tour of the JHSFC Archives.

↪Click HERE to view on the JHSFC YouTube Channel and Share!

Click SHOW MORE on our YouTube Channel and you can jump to a specific chapter listed here:

0:00 - Welcome and Intro
4:34 - History, It's About US (video highlights)
8:00 - Guided video tour of the Archives
20:46 - Congregation for Humanistic Judaism Oral History Project
27:36 - Grandchild/Grandparent Oral History Initiative
29:03 - Treasures in the Archives
48:05 - Remembering the Family Store (intro and movie trailer)
59:59 - Wrap-up and close

↪Click HERE for easy access to the chapters.

Remember to click SHOW MORE on our YouTube Channel to access the the chapter list.
Enjoy on YouTube and Share!





From the Archives ...

Russian Silver Marks
By Jeff Bendremer



Click on image to enlarge

The few items our ancestors brought with them from 'the old country' tells us a lot about their values and priorities. With its importance in Shabbat and Passover observance, a diminutive kiddush cup might be the only object of value portable enough to make the journey. But what information can we obtain from the tiny, enigmatic hallmarks on the bottom? Turns out, a lot!

These are two kiddush cups belonging to the family of Dr. Elissa Kaplan, immediate Past President of the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County. The first is marked with the standard Russian assay system established by Tsar Peter the Great in 1700. It includes a maker's mark, assayer's mark, silver standard mark and town mark. We can tell that this cup was made by the famous silversmith, Ivan Zakharov ((и3), who was active in Moscow from 1856-1896. This particular cup was made in 1876 in Moscow according to the assay mark and town mark depicting St. George slaying the dragon. Its silver purity is 84 Kolotniki (a unique Russian measure), or 87.5%, a bit less than sterling silver. The assayer was Viktor Savinkov (BC).

The second cup is marked with Kokoshnick hallmarks (named after the traditional headpiece being worn by the woman in the assay mark), established by Tsar Nicholas II and used from 1896-1918. There should be tiny initials to the right of the woman's head (right behind her neck) corresponding to the assayer. It was made by another famous silversmith named Israel Eseevich Zakhoder (и3). He was originally active in Moscow but moved to Kiev, Ukraine, in 1892 which is where this cup was made. Because this type of mark was instituted in 1896 and Zakhoder ended his production in 1907, we can be certain it was made between those years in Kiev. Its silver content is also 84 Kolotniki or 87.5% pure silver.

Your family heirlooms will often come with stories about their history and meaning. But sometimes, the items themselves can also tell a compelling story about the past.




A Ketubah: 1920's

by Jeff Bendremer


Click on image to enlarge

As we slide into spring, the number of weddings steadily increases topping out in June. When it comes to a traditional Jewish wedding, the Ketubah , or wedding contract, is an essential component. The formula of the Ketubah , reputedly dating back to Simeon ben Shetach, c. 140-60 BCE, outlines the rights, responsibilities and obligations of the groom in regard to the wife. Though it may look like Hebrew, traditionally the Ketubah is written in Aramaic, the lingua franca of Jews in the 1st century. Signed by the bride and groom as well as witnesses, it is read aloud during the wedding ceremony under a chuppah , a canopy held up by 4 poles. As always, the text v'hakol sharir v'kayam — "all of this is in force and validated," the legal formula validating a binding contract, can be found in large letter toward the end of the document.

This Ketubah is from the 1920's. Unlike some of the more fancy and artistic wedding contracts seen today and throughout history, this was a very modest example printed on inexpensive paper. As such, they can degrade over time if not properly conserved. You may have documents like this in your own family archive which may need attention so they can last through the generations.




To all our members

throughout the years



Upcoming Event

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST
REMEMBRANCE DAY

Thursday, January 27, 2022
7pm on Zoom

Join us for an educational experience as we explore the framing of our past and present through viewing of highlights from the documentary, Final Account. Following the screening is a conversation with Holocaust survivors (and children of Holocaust survivors) on complicity, propaganda, and responsibility through the lens of the film.

Moderator: Mike Markovits Panelists: Judith Altmann, Ilan Fogel, Marilyn Altmann

Co-sponsors: Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County and United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.

↪Click HERE to reigister in advance for this meeting.


Double click on video to view on YouTube.

↪Click HERE to learn more about the film.

↪Click HERE to see the flyer.


February Events

A BISSEL YIDDISH WITH JUDY



Friday, February 4, 2022
1:30 pm (NOTE DIFFERENT TIME!!)


↪Click HERE to join Zoom Meeting


FEBRUARY BOOK TALK



The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton
by Andrew Porwancher
Presented by Jonathan Fass

Wednesday, February 16, 2022
7:00pm Zoom program

The untold story of the founding father’s likely Jewish birth and upbringing—and its revolutionary consequences for understanding him and the nation he fought to create.

Please join JHSFC for the Zoom program.

Send your name and email to info@jhsfc-ct.org and a confirmation and link will be sent to you.



BOOK TALK SPOTLIGHT

Rebel Daughter
by Lori Banov Kaufmann,
Presented by Elissa Kaplan, EdD
January 19, 2022


↪Click HERE to view on YouTube



Spotlight on Programs

A Forensic Approach to
Holocaust Memory and Education

Double click on video image
to view on YouTube.

See how you can use forensic analysis techniques to uncover your family history. Join the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County as Ryan Lilienthal tells how he uncovered his family story.

Ryan engages his audience in a blueprint process to harness the vast array of increasingly available Holocaust-related archives to piece together the lives of Holocaust victims. In our digital age, primary source material, including video testimony, letters, photographs and institutional and government documents are at our fingertips. The presentation shows how we can deploy our own critical analysis skills to reveal our family history by following the links to the history they left behind.

The program was co-sponsored by The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County, the United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, the Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, and the Stamford Jewish Community Center.



A Virtual Tour of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History


Double click on video image
to view on YouTube.

↪Click HERE to Enjoy the May Program
on the JHSFC YouTube Channel and Share!

Did you know that there is another national Jewish museum in Washington, D.C. besides the Holocaust Museum?

Did you know that Jewish Americans have played an important role in the defense of the United States since pre-Colonial times?

In our May 2, 2021 Featured Program, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Sheldon Goldberg, Ph.D., museum docent and historian, introduces a video tour of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History (NMAJMH) and answers questions.

The tour covers many hidden treasures of the museum, including The Hall of Heroes: American Jewish Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Women in the Military, GIs Remember Liberating the Concentration Camps, and The Life and Career of Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy (1792–1862).

The program was co-sponsored by the Stamford Jewish War Veterans Fred Robbins Post 142.

Please visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History website (NMAJMH) to learn more about this important resource.

You can also view the NMAJMH video tour separately from the JHSFC program at the NMAJMH YouTube channel.


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The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County is a recipient agency of
United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien
and The Federation of Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County.

©2022 The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County