The Alliance Colony was settled by 42 families who fled late 1800s Russian pogroms to start one of the first Jewish agricultural settlements in the US.
The federation, which handles Jewish activities in Cumberland and Salem counties, would receive more than $400,000 to restore Moshe Bayuk's brick house. Born in Eastern Europe, Bayuk was a lawyer, Jewish scholar and farmer. He died in 1932. The house is across the steet from the Alliance Synagogue. According to the plan, $50,000 in state funds would make the house the Alliance Heritage Center.
The Philadelphia Daily News story reported on the plans.
Another phase of the plan - about $4 million - would relocate two abandoned synagogues - Beth Israel, on Garton Road, in Deerfield Township, Cumberland County; and Crown of Israel, on Centerton Road, in Monroeville, Salem County - in front of the Alliance Cemetery.
Not everyone connected with the Alliance Synagogue, which still has a small congregation, is happy about the plan. Some call it a land or power grab and wonder why the Federation wants to do this now when they've ignored the place for 50 years; others fear the site will become a theme park.
In 1882, the German-Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch and the Paris-based Alliance Israelite Universelle - for which the colony was named - paved the way for 42 settlers to seek out a quieter, albeit difficult life by tilling the soil instead of fighting it out among the masses in squalid, inner-city tenements.In Pittsgrove Township and its communities - Alliance, Brotmanville, Norma, Six Points - the immigrants found acceptance and friendly neighbors. Many immigrants raised chickens and also worked in cranberry bogs and clothing factories.
The small community spread to Vineland with a Jewish population that reached about 12,000 after World War II; today the Jewish population in Salem and Cumberland counties is only 1,100. Younger generations moved away from the land in the late 50s-60s, but their parents stayed.
The story quotes US District Judge Stanley S. Brotman, whose grandfather founded the cemetery, said he supports any action to shed light on all the names whose roots were planted in South Jersey, and that the area should be given the historical significance it deserves.
A heritage center would be a fitting voice for the dead, said Vineland lawyer Jay Greenblat whose father was a carpenter and butcher in the colony. "It might be centered on Alliance, but it's something for the entire area to take part in," he said. "It's quite a story. I don't think too many people are aware of it."
Keeping watch over the generations of Jewish farmers were piles of pebbles, neatly placed atop the grave markers by loved ones who had made the trek down these scenic roads.Alliance Cemetery has a website. Although much of it appears under construction, there are two maps and more is promised. Read the complete story at the link above.