Arthur L. Finkle
The East European immigration began in the late 1870s, was composed mainly of Russian, Polish, and Hungarian Jews. They organized the synagogues Achenu Bnai Yisroel (1883); Anshei Emes (1891); Ahavath Israel (1909); and Poaley Emes (1920). For all Congregations, see Appendix III, page 259
Jacob Barker immigrated to the US in 1880 and arrived in Trenton in 1881. He and his wife raised seven children. Jacob was one of the founders on Congregation Brothers of Israel. One of his sons, Rufke owned a slaughterhouse and eventually opened a meat market. Monty, another son, was the ‘though’ guy. Meyer Stark arrived from Lithuania via Scotland in 1883. Another founder was Simcha Lavine, he arrived in Trenton in 1895. He raised five children: Sophie (Nathan Siegle); Toby (Popkin), Isaac (Lavine’s Department Store; and David (Grocery store. Eventually, all the boys opened Lavine’s Department Store at 187 S. Broad St.
Jewish education was conducted by private teachers until Brothers of Israel Synagogue founded a Hebrew school in 1893. Later, in 1945, it became part-time day school, under the leadership of Rabbi Issachar Levin, serving the Trenton community from 1927 to 1969. In 1969 it became the Trenton Hebrew Academy. Renamed in 1981 as the Abrams Hebrew Academy (named for a local foundation that made a significant endowment to the school), it moved from Trenton to Yardley, PA in the 1980’s.
The main reasons for the immigration to USA were to flee the harsh Russia anti-Semitism policy, the coercive and discriminatory 25-year military service, lack of economic opportunity and the pogroms.
By the May Laws poof 1882, Jews were restricted to live in the Pale of the Settlement in what is now Lithuania, Russia, Romania and the Ukraine. In addition, one on seven Jewish boys was conscripted into the Tsar’s Army (1 in 10 non-Jews). Length of swerve – 25 years!
General laws applicable to Jews included: (1) the family of a Jew who evaded military service was assessed a fine of 300 rubles; (2) capturing a Jew who evaded military service yielded cash reward of 50 rubles.
Between the years 1874 and 1892 (excluding 1883 for which no reliable figures are available), a total of 173,434 Jewish recruits were drafted. See Dan Leeson, Military Conscription In Russia
in the 19th Century email@example.com
Moreover, if the child were less than 16, then the term of his military duty from age 12 to 18 was another six ‘tacked-on’ more years up to age 18. Insidiously, the Kahal, a semblance of the Jewish ruling committee in each community, was the agent of the government to present these new conscripts, under penalty of fine or increased conscription for the community. Severe restrictions were placed on the number of Jewish doctors and lawyers (The Legal Bar went from 22% to 9% in a year); cannot use machinery; cannot sell items made out of one’s own shtetl; quotas and Gymnasia’s Academic High Schools) and Universities.
Indeed, Simon Dubnow expounds on the effect of these oppressive May Laws of 1882:
The May Laws of 1882 also temporarily forbade the issuing of mortgages and other deeds to Jews, as well as the registration of Jews as lessees of real property situated outside of towns and boroughs; and also the issuing to Jews of powers of attorney to manage and dispose of such real property. Further, “Jews are forbidden to transact business on Sundays and on the principal Christian holy days; the existing regulations concerning the closing of places of business belonging to Christians on such days to apply to Jews also." See Paul Kriwaczek, Yiddish Civilization: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation, Vintage Books, NY, 2005.