Jews have been living in Maine since the 1800s: There were fully functioning Jewish communities in Bangor in the 1840s, and in Portland in the 1880s. Somewhat improbably, at least to outsiders, those and other Jewish enclaves around the state have endured and thrived. Over the last 100 years, the Jewish population of Maine has ranged from 5,000 to over 10,000.
Today there are active Jewish communities in Augusta, Bangor, Bath, Biddeford-Saco, greater Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, Rockland, and Waterville and smaller Jewish community groupings elsewhere in the State. Information on individual communites is available from the drop down 'places' menu above or from the city/town search option below.
Maine Jewish life brings to mind different things for different Jews. For some
it is where they were born, live, and cannot imagine living anywhere else. For others, it
is where they grew up and consequently hold special memories of childhood. Other
Jews see Maine as the place that they have vacationed for years or went to summer camp. As with other Jewish
communities, many families moved in because their relatives had asked them to come.
And increasingly other Maine Jews are ones who have opted to move
to Maine as the place where they want to live.
Questions unavoidably arise: Who is a Jew? And who is a Mainer? On the former, the project takes no position. On the latter, we have used a broad definition including not only those who were born, grew up, or lived here, but also those who are buried here.
The core of the project is the addition of new information by Maine Jews and other interested people, whether online through the website, by email, or by old-fashioned mail. Building the database DMJ has benefited from support from community centers, synagogues, family historians, Chevra Kiddisha, burial associations, social clubs, sports teams across the state and its partner organizations . Historical documents, oral accounts, photographs of community activities, and print articles can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage all registered users to supplement or correct existing information on individuals and community organizations using the comment function on each person's page. .
DATABASE RESOURCES : Information is available today on
- 32,818 individual Jews with strong ties to Maine of which 2,394 show the first generation country of origin
- 8,523 records of burial in Maine Jewish cemeteries for which there are 6,310 headstone images
- 2,019 organizations important to the Maine Jewish community of which 592 are Jewish community institutions in Maine and 834 are businesses important to the Maine Jewish communities
- 294 are oral histories of which 85 are available as .mp3 audio recordings on-line
- 5,681 bibliographic citations and sources of which 1,948 are photographs and 2,049 are original documents
- To date 565 individuals and 7 organizations have contributed photographs, recollections, documents, or other resources to DMJ on-line resource base
Financial contributions to DMJ can honor their own Maine immigrant family or to inspire and inform the next generation of Maine Jews. These contribution supplement this largely volunteer effort by supporting data collection and outreach. DMJ is under the financial supervision of Temple Beth El, 400 Deering Ave, Portland, Maine 04103 , Donations are welcome using the Tzedakah box below or by sending a gift (marked DMJ) to Temple Beth El.
Volunteers ; DMJ is a mostly volunteer-based project. New volunteers are welcome to join any of these programs. Contact DMJ @ Mindspring.com
Last Updated : April 2 2015
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