Cape Ann Museum CAM Connects
In today's issue of CAM Connects, we highlight the Jewish Heritage of Cape Ann

September 15, 2022

(Left) Ruth Mordecai, Homage to Matisse, 2016, mixed media on paper (collage, oil, graphite), 64 x 46.5 inches. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Museum purchase, 2017, with funds provided by the Kanter Kallman Foundation [Acc. #2017.042.1].
(Right) Susan Erony, My Father’s Coat, 2001, mixed media on canvas (collage, paint, photographs, burnt paper, cloth taken from the artist's father's coat), 68 x 58 inches. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Gift of the Artist, 2001 [Acc. #2001.62].

Dear Friends,

With the start of Rosh Hashanah later this month on September 25, this issue of CAM Connects celebrates the Jewish history of Cape Ann. While many of us may be familiar with Jewish painters who have long found inspiration on Cape Ann - from Theresa Bernstein and William Meyerowitz, to Mark Rothko, to Harold Rotenberg, Judi Rotenberg, Ruth Mordecai, Susan Erony, and many others - we may not be as familiar with the Jewish businesses and social organizations that developed here - sometimes as integrated parts of the region's social fabric and at other times due to exclusion from it.

CAM's Library & Archives are a rich source of material relating to the history of Judaism in the area, and we're delighted to present a sampling of it here.

With all best wishes,

Oliver Barker, Director

Jewish Heritage on Cape Ann

To quote Sarah Dunlap in her introduction to her 1998 publication, The Jewish Community of Cape Ann: An Oral History, “Much of what occurred on Cape Ann is similar to what happened in every other Jewish community in the United States: the sequence of immigration, education and assimilation, so familiar in the history of Jews in larger cities like New York and Chicago, was repeated with minor variations in Gloucester—but those minor variations are the particulars that make Cape Ann’s history unique.” 

In today’s issue of CAM Connects, we highlight some of these particulars through a look at a few of the first Jewish-owned businesses on Cape Ann, a summer camp in Annisquam, an upcoming event at the Museum, and the Lobster Trap Menorah (truly unique to Gloucester!).

Jewish-Owned Businesses on Cape Ann

(Left) Belmont Hotel, c. 1890s. Photograph by Walter Gardner. Benham Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Caroline Benham, 1994 [Acc. #1994.8.8].
(Right) Belmont Clothing House, 1881. Photograph by Corliss and Ryan. Benham Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Caroline Benham, 1994 [Acc. #1994.8.7].

As early as the 1860s, Jews have been a part of Cape Ann’s diverse economy. One of the first Jewish residents of Gloucester, Samuel H. Emanuel, started the S.H. Emanuel & Co Millinery Shop in 1868 after he and his wife Delia immigrated from Germany. Another early resident, Solomon Hochberger, opened a dry goods shop in Lanesville in 1875. Hochberger later started a junk business with fellow Jewish resident David Heineman in 1887. Jews from the initial waves of Jewish immigration in the first half of the 20th century made their lives as peddlers, tailors, and cobblers as well as owners of dry goods shops, junk businesses, bakeries, grocery stores, clothing stores, hotels, and summer camps. Many of these businesses, such as Harry Goldman’s clothing store (est. 1896), Joseph Bloomberg’s clothing store (est. around 1900), Louis and Leah Pett’s grocery store (est. mid 1920s), Bennie Schred’s Star Remnant Store (est. 1909), Samuel Feldman’s grocery store (est. late 1920s), and Bob Kramer’s haberdashery (est. 1948) became fixtures of the Jewish community. Jewish-owned bakeries, grocery stores, and restaurants were especially important when it came to Jews trying to keep kosher on Cape Ann. Unlike larger Jewish communities on the North Shore that were closer to Boston, access to kosher meat was difficult. Feldman’s grocery store was one of the few places on Cape Ann where Jews could find kosher meat. 

(Left) Moorland Hotel, 1947. Photograph by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA. Gift of the Seder Family, 2009 [Acc. #2009.36].
(Middle) Metropolitan House, 1882. Photograph by Corliss and Ryan. Benham Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Caroline Benham, 1994 [Acc. #1994.8.7].
(Right) Alper’s Clothing Store, 1957. Photograph by Henry W. Williams. Rozman Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Edward P. Williams, 1988 [Acc. #2603].

Because Cape Ann was a summer destination for many Jewish families, Jewish owned hotels and summer camps were also important fixtures of the community. Due to antisemitism, Jewish guests were excluded from staying at certain hotels. Jews were also excluded from joining groups like the YMCA and private yacht, golf, and tennis clubs and were restricted from joining summer events held by these groups such as tennis and golf lessons and competitions, dinners, and parties. Because of this, Jewish-owned hotels and summer camps, such as the Moorland Hotel purchased by Meyer Jasper in 1940, the Hawthorne Inn owned by Max Arnold, the Magnolia Manor and Magnolia Lodge owned by Saul Feldman, the Oceanside Hotel owned by Pearl and Ralph Snyder in the 1950s, and Camp Annisquam founded by Abraham Resnick in 1923, were important businesses for both the summer and year-round Jewish community on Cape Ann. 

Camp Annisquam

Program for Camp Annisquam. From the Collection of Rob Chalfen.

Abraham Resnick immigrated from Russia to Boston in 1911. As a teenager, Abraham attended the Civic Service House of Boston’s summer camp that was run in West Gloucester. He liked the camp so much that he bought the land and founded Camp Annisquam at Little River and Stanwood Point in 1923. The camp was a place for families, couples, and young people to go on vacation. The Resnicks also operated a sailing camp for boys for 20 years. 

Camp Annisquam at West Gloucester, Massachusetts. Postcard. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA. Gift of the Estate of Howard Thomas, 2021 [Acc. #2021.055].

The camp had a substantial kitchen to feed its guests and was also a place where Jews could get kosher meals. Abram would organize activities for guests such as tours of the area and hiking and fishing trips. On weekends, the camp would hire a band and host dinners and dances. According to Abram’s son Jeff, his father faced discrimination in the beginning when he was trying to get a loan from the bank to start the camp. Jeff explains that because the camp was known as “the Jewish camp” locally, campers would at times experience antisemitism when it came to beach privileges and passes. Campers would be denied entrance to certain beaches in the area. However, Camp Annisquam continued to be a fixture of the community and even saw well-known members of the Cape Ann artist community like sculptor George Aarons and his wife, Gertrude, painter Harold Rotenberg, and painters William Meyerowitz and Theresa Bernstein.    

Tradition of the Lobster Trap Menorah

(Left) Volunteers, from left to right, Jeff Marshall, Paul Erhard, Jim Dowd, and Marla Brin work on a Lobster Trap Menorah outside the Temple Ahavat Achim on Middle Street, 2014. Photograph by Desi Smith. Image courtesy of the Gloucester Daily Times.
(Right) Purple lights glow as Rabbi Stephen Lewis lights the Lobster Trap Menorah, 2018. Photograph by Tim Jean. Image courtesy of the Gloucester Daily Times.

Chanukah, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month Kislev (usually falling in December). The festival commemorates the rededication of the Temple after a Jewish revolt against their oppression by the Seleucid Greeks under the rule of Antiochus IV.  According to tradition, when it came time for the Jews to rededicate the Temple after their victory, there was only a little oil left to light the menorah. The amount of oil left only should have burned for one day, but the oil burned for eight. In commemoration of this miracle, for eight days, the candles of the Chanukah menorah are progressively lit and blessings are recited. In Gloucester, Temple Ahavat Achim started the tradition in 2014 of creating and lighting a Chanukah menorah out of lobster traps borrowed from local lobstermen as a fun celebration of the holiday. Nine buoys represent the nine candles of the menorah and LED lights are used to light up the structure.  

Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and Folly Cove

Peggy Norton (1905-2000), Apple Pie (small), 1951, ink on cotton. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA.

The High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Sukkot (a celebration of the harvest) are two cornerstones of the Jewish Calendar. This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on September 25 and ends at sunset on September 27 while Sukkot begins at sunset on October 9 and ends at sunset on October 16.

Honey and apples are symbols of Rosh Hashanah while the traditional Sukkah, a temporary structure built for farmers during the harvest, is often adorned with fall crops. On October 8, directly in between these two important holidays, the Cape Ann Museum is partnering with the Lappin Foundation, Temple Ahavat Achim, and the Jewish Arts Collaborative to share these traditions along with those from another community from Cape Ann: the Folly Cove Designers.

Visitors will be invited to make their own apple prints, inspired by Peggy Norton’s Apple Pie (small), outside in the courtyard between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm where a sukkah provided by the Lappin Foundation will be installed for the day. At 11:30 AM, members of Temple Ahavat Achim will read books from the PJ Library, an organization that sends free Jewish children's books to families across the world every month, and Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. Rabbi David Kudan will then share information about the holiday, the sukkah, and some of the symbols of the holiday including the Etrog and the Lulav.

For more information and to register, click here

Fire on Middle Street

By CAM Docent, Miriam Weinstein

On the frigid morning of December 15, 2007, members of Gloucester’s Temple Ahavat Achim were awakened with terrible news: their beloved synagogue building had burned. A fire that started in the Lorraine Apartments next door on Middle Street (the cause was later determined to be faulty wiring) had resulted in the death of one resident, Robert Taylor. Flames from that aged wooden building spread to the historic 1843 structure. Built as a Congregational church, it had been home to the synagogue since 1951.

Image courtesy of Miriam Weinstein

There had been devastating fires in Gloucester before. In 1830 and 1864, fires destroyed much of the downtown. But this was the 21st century, and fires like this were not supposed to happen. The fear was that, if the fire spread beyond the Temple, the Sawyer Free Library would be next. Luckily, the fire was contained. “We almost lost downtown tonight,” Mayor John Bell told firefighters.

Continue reading here.