04 June 2009

Book: Atlantic City's Jewish community

We are fortunate to have inspired individuals among us who are passionate about the Jewish history of the places they grew up, where several generations of their families lived, and who now record those memories and that history for all of us.

Thank you to Rabbi Gary Gans of New Jersey who provided the link to this story.

If Atlantic City, New Jersey is a location of interest, there's a new book on its Jewish community.

"A Dream, A Journey, A Community: A Nostalgic Look at Jewish Businesses in and Around Atlantic City" was authored by Leo B. Schoffer, who grew up on a chicken farm owned by his survivor parents.
Out of those memories, and a desire to capture this particular slice of Atlantic City's distinctively demarcated ethnic history while the people who created it and remember it best are still alive, Schoffer created his new book.
Schoffer's family bought Sam's Poultry Farm in 1950, and he drove around with his father - Sam the Egg Man - making deliveries at the back doors of Jewish businesses all over the island.

The Jews lived mostly in the inlet section, eventually moved to Margate, "and established hundreds of shops, on the Boardwalk and on the Avenues, opened hotels and motels, sold kosher food from deli counters, and even raised chickens on farms just outside town."

The book is a coffee-table-size collection of photographs and essays documenting businesses from the turn of the century to the 1970s, when the businesses faded into memory - only 18 survive today. The $54 book, published by ComteQ Publishing of Margate, is available online. Proceeds benefit Jewish day schools.

A local historian, Allen Pergament called the book "a legacy."
"When Leo first came to me, he was looking for pictures, and his interest was for the kids to have something, for them to realize their legacy. From a booklet, it became this beautiful book. When you look at it, you see there's so much to it. It's not just history, it's family, religious concepts, neighborhoods. It's all the things that are real and sensitive and warm that help to establish any community."
Among the businesses mentioned: Mayer's Jewel Shop, Lischin Bros. Meat, Kligerman's Dairy, Winn's Italian Market, the St. Charles (kosher) Hotel, Shore Theater, Club Harlem, Gottlieb's Millinery, Atlantic City Leather Co., Gerber's & Lanes, Schultz Clothing, and Sam Slotoroff Clothing.

The story mentions a recent get-together of several hundred people:
There were the original store owners in their 80s, second and third generations of families married to one another at an amusing rate, and the current generation, who in many cases wanted nothing to do with the family business, and dutifully became the doctors, lawyers, and teachers that their merchant parents dreamed of.
Read the complete story here.


  1. I lived with my maternal gf in the President Hotel. As kids, we searched under the boardwalk looking for dropped coins which added to our 'weekly allowance'.

    My gf had many portraits done by a Perskie or Persky. Same family?

    Linda (Lyn) Blyden
    now in Seattle

  2. I grew up in the South Inlet in the 40s and 50s. Everyone was Jewish except me. I still vividly remember all of the Jewish businesses on Oriental Ave and all of the wonderful Jewish restaurants and merchants throughout the city Im glad someone took the time and effort to remember a great heritage and community in a great city.
    Bill Amadeo
    Daytona Beach Fl

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Each book like this requires one passionate dedicated individual. I am delighted that there seem to be more community histories appearing.

  4. Anonymous10:02 PM

    I hope someone remembers Ginsberg bakery and the wonderful bagels, breads and pastries. I drove a truck for them in the summer of college. It was a terrific experience.

    Ron Paget

  5. My great grandfather was the proprietor and owner of a major hotel near the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. I believe his name was Adolf Belzer and we passed away around the mid or late 1950's. Does anyone know of him or can point me in the direction of some history related to him?

  6. Adolph Belzer was married to my Great Great Aunt Ethel Karlowsky Belzer, she was his second wife. He was born in Russia in 1872. She was also born in Russia in 1881. From my research I have learned he divorced his first wife and she lived her remaining years institutionalized. Adolph and Ethel owned the Hotel Pierrepoint, a Kosher establishment. It was at located at New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk. My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Shapiro ran the dining room with 3 meals per day. She planned the meals and supervised the kitchen. The hotel employed a Black cook who cursed in Yiddish. I hope this is of some help.
    Kevin Shapiro Mc Laughlin