Published on September 7th, 2016 | by LedgerOnline
By Cindy Mindell
WEST HARTFORD – More than 100 years ago, German-Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch set up a charitable enterprise that would save thousands of co-religionists from the scourge of pogroms in 19th-century Russia and, after his death, from the ravages of the Holocaust. His plan: to resettle Jewish immigrants in Connecticut farming communities.
Now, a new documentary film produced by Jerry Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, explores the Jewish farming communities throughout (mostly) the eastern part of the state that were financed by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch Fund.
The film, “Harvesting Stones: The Jewish Farmers of Eastern Connecticut,” will enjoy its Greater Hartford premiere on Monday, Sept. 19 at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford, part of the JFACT Fund Annual Night at the Theatre benefit. JFACT Fund is the fundraising arm of the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut.
Sam Gejdenson, a former United States Representative for Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District, is among the children of Jewish immigrant farmers featured in the film. He will speak at a pre-film reception for JFACT Fund donors.
Gejdenson was born in 1948 in a Displaced Persons Camp in Eschwege, Allied-occupied Germany, the first child of a Belarusian father and Lithuanian mother. When he was 18 months old, he and his parents and half-sister immigrated to a dairy farm in Bozrah. A graduate of UConn, Gejdenson was elected as a Democrat to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1973; in 1980, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving two terms.