TAA History

The Jewish Community of Cape AnnNot all the Jewish immigrants stayed in the big cities. The Jews of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, and the community they built is chronicled in The Jewish Community of Cape Ann: An Oral History. Starting soon after the Civil War, Jews began arriving in the fishing port of Gloucester and the smaller towns nearby. In many ways, their story is much like that of any other Jewish community in the New World, but there were some problems never encountered in New York or Chicago: how to keep a kosher home when the nearest kosher butcher was a day's travel away; and how to make a living as a tailor, when all the customer cared about was staying dry (did you know that oilskins were originally made with OIL?).

A team of four interviewers, led by oral historian Zelda Kaplan, taped over sixty sources: locals, summer people, and their descendants. Then, author Sarah V. Dunlap (of the Gloucester Archives Committee) took this raw material - an enormous collection of first person accounts and of tales heard from elders - checked the stories against documentary sources, supplemented them with additional material from old newspapers and city directories, and produced this remarkable book.

"The Jewish Community of Cape Ann: An Oral History" by Sarah V. Dunlap, hardcover, 256 pp plus appendices, photos and index, ISBN 0-9667776-0-3, LC 98-88680 is available for purchase via the TAA office.

The TAA History Committee is currently gathering stories, photos, artifacts and memories from its members to capture our congregation’s continuing narrative and ensure that future generations will know and learn from TAA’s rich heritage. For more information, please contact Elly Shankman.