Author Seth Stern joins us to discuss his new book Speaking Yiddish to Chickens, moderated by the Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Connecticut, Avinoam Patt.
Most of the roughly 140,000 Holocaust survivors who came to the United States in the first decade after World War II settled in big cities such as New York. But a few thousand chose an alternative way of life on American farms. More of these accidental farmers wound up raising chickens in southern New Jersey than anywhere else. Speaking Yiddish to Chickens is the first book to chronicle this little-known chapter in American Jewish history when these mostly Eastern European refugees – including the author’s grandparents – found an unlikely refuge and gateway to new lives in the US on poultry farms. They gravitated to a section of south Jersey anchored by Vineland, a small rural city where previous waves of Jewish immigrants had built a rich network of cultural and religious institutions.