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By Helen Breslow

On the last day of the year 1929, our family, my children Rebecca, 8 and George, 3, with my beloved husband, Nathan, came to Toms River to find an "easier" life on a farm. It turned out to be a very hard one. We had bought Dinnerstein's farm on Old Freehold Road with three mortgages. My husband, nevertheless, kept his job in New York City from Saturday through Friday and developed a wholesale egg distribution business while my brother-in-law worked the farm. I drove a truck to pick up eggs from the farmers, and had a 1924 Dodge sedan; crank start. Its radiator leaked and I always carried a bucket of water.

When the banks closed during the Depression one of the two banks in Toms River didn't close and fortunately we were able to honor our obligations to the farmers by taking in boarders. The farmers themselves used to drive to Lakewood to meet my husband at the bus terminal to bring him home every Friday night. All of the farmers worked hard to survive. There were no lights on the roads and my boarders and visitors from New York were afraid to go out at night, in the dark, and were amazed at the bravery of the farmers.

In those days there were a few Jewish merchants and professionals in town, but our life was involved with the farmers, and we immediately joined the Community of Jewish Farmers. We were a handful of people, perhaps 20, in plain farm clothes. There was hardly any activity. Meetings were monthly. It made a poor impression upon me. Yet, this Community of Jewish Farmers was to become my second home.

Through the years I was to serve as board member, vice-president, and president.  I was responsible for bringing in speakers for discussions on contemporary issues and all the members soon looked forward to meetings which were interesting and enlightening, touching upon every facet of Jewish life. Of course, we had strong political differences among us and many times I had to alert the speakers to proceed cautiously.

While I was continually devoted to this second home through its dynamic growth it had its many tribulations, but I, nevertheless, enjoyed this work immensely. I felt a serious responsibility to the Community and to  Jewish aspirations. From its beginnings I introduced the United Jewish Appeal through our programs, continuing to lead this drive for 35 years. I also helped establish the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Bond drive.

After the creation of the State of Israel, I further brought in many films and speakers. By the time  I left Toms  River in 1973, we  had drives  reaching a mark exceeding  the

$60,000 level.

Following the establishment of the Congregation, a great split between it and the Community resulted, with the Congregation then holding its own UJA drive. In time, a reunification of this UJA drive was effected.

To this day, I correspond with some of our early Community founders now scattered throughout various parts of the country.

  P.S. I feel particularly pleased and honored that you have called upon me and my recollections with respect to the development of the Jewish presence in the Toms River history which has   been such an important part of my life as well as that of my husband and family.