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  early churches of New Jersey

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Scharis Israel Synagogue


Alliance, Pittsgrove Township, Salem County
Gershel Avenue
founded 1884, built 1884-88

In the 1880s, following persecution in Russia and eastern Europe, thousands of Orthodox Jews immigrated to New York and New Jersey. In 1882, 43 families escaped the pogroms of Russia and settled in this rural Southern New Jersey community as the first Jewish agricultural colony in the United States. They belonged to the Am Olam Movement that believed in a "return to the soil." They organized a burial society and built a synagogue, and in 1891 they founded Alliance Cemetery. Money was raised by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of New York, to sponsor agricultural colonies in south Jersey, Texas and North Dakota. Similar colonies in Woodbine, Carmel, Rosenhayn, Norma, Brotmanville, Six Points, and Mizpah.
     The leader of Alliance Colony, Moses Bayuk, came to Norma from Russian 1880. The Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society granted Bayuk a parcel of land near the Maurice River adjacent to the Norma train station. His property was the beginning of Alliance Colony. Alliance was founded by a group of 25 settlers—many more followed and by the end of the first summer, there were 60-70 families living in the colony. The land that was settled consisted of 40 acres per family on farmland that needed to be cleared and farmed. The immigrant colony members had little knowledge of agriculture and had difficulty farming the sandy south Jersey soil but received training from their neighbors. The Emigrant Aid Society paid workers weekly during the period in which land was cleared. Initially, Alliance was also supported by local politicians who arranged for 1,000 army tents for the community for shelter until permanent housing could be built.
     The synagogue in Alliance was built in 1884-85 by the Tifereth Israel congregation and resembles a large house, except for the two extended windows on the gable end. For the last 11 years services have been held here on a monthly basis and on high holidays.