Eisenstein, Julius D. (1854-1956)
Partially Printed Deed, Signed as President, Mizpah Agricultural and Industrial Company, New Jersey, Sept. 29, 1892, Signed also by Michael S. Mirsky, as Secretary of the Company, and Ralph Nathan, Commissioner for New Jersey in New York. Purchasing property from the West Jersey and Atlantic Railroad Company for a “Russian-Hebrew” communal colony

Folio, three pages, partially printed document, accomplished in manuscript, and signed by the parties to the transaction. In very good clean and legible condition.

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Julius Eisenstein was a noted Polish-born scholar who immigrated with his family to New York in 1872. Founder of the first American society for the Hebrew language, first to translate the United States Constitution into Hebrew (1891) and contributor of an incredible 150 articles to the landmark Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906, his youthful foray into the business world was a disaster. While in his early 30s – a decade before he first visited Palestine and became a fervent Zionist – he launched an agricultural colony for Russian-Jewish immigrants in rural southern New Jersey: The town of Mizpah was actually the property of New York and Philadelphia clothing manufacturers who intended to create a production center “where land, labor and climate would combine more favorably” for their Russian immigrant workmen than “in the big city.” There were other “Russian-Hebrew colonies” in the area, praised as being “conceived in charity and founded in philanthropy”, but – Eisenstein’s Mizpah – acres of “wild pine and oak land” situated on the side of a railroad track – was not one of these. Worthless tracts were sold at $ 75 a lot to families of “greenhorns” who, according to a Jewish physician reporting to the New Jersey Board of Health in 1891, were “almost starving”, living under the “worst imaginable” sanitary conditions” in overcrowded buildings, without running water or outhouses, not a single acre of the land being under cultivation. Mizpah, concluded the Doctor, was simply “founded by land speculators for money making purposes”. Eisenstein was probably nothing more than the idealistic front-man for the venture, and reportedly lost much of the fortune he had himself invested in the colony. Remarkably, Mizpah survived, the Jewish residents eventually being joined by African-American newcomers, who during the 1930s Depression, became the target of Ku Klux Klan cross burnings. But by then, Eisenstein had long since severed his connection with the colony, renowned as one the foremost Hebraists in America.