Jewish community of Old Town - Orono.

Barry Ginsberg
Ben Sklar's store
Ginsburg Variety Store
Israel Goldman of Old Town, peddler with his horse
Baby Photo, Mickey (Milton) Goldsmith

This section of the Documenting Maine Jewry project has information on the communities of Old Town, Orono.

The coordinator of this site is Beth Hillson . She would welcome additional photographs, documents and oral histories sent to them at dmj @

Local Jewish Organizations

B\'nai Brith Hillel Foundation (Orono) Corbett Hall 201, UMO Orono 207-581-2409 -

Brief History of Old Town-Orono Jewry


DATABASE RESOURCES : Information is available today on

  • 210 individual Jews with strong ties to Old Town - Orono of which 40 record the Old Country origin of first generation immigrants
  • 65 records of burial in Jewish cemeteries for which there are 57 headstone images
  • 34 organizations important to the Old Town - Orono Jewish community of which 8 are Jewish community institutions and 22 are businesses important to the Old Town - Orono Jewish community
  • 62 bibliographic citations and sources pertaining to Old Town - Orono of which 21 are photographs and 0 are oral histories

Recent additions to the Documenting Old Town-Orono Jewry database include

The Documenting Old Town-Orono Jewry (DOTOJ) site is a part of the state-wide Documenting Maine Jewry (DMJ) project. Honoring the Jewish tradition of remembrance, the Documenting Maine Jewry project seeks to tell the story, not just of those individuals, but of the communities they shaped. DMJ's goal is to collect short histories of the many people and organizations that have contributed, over time, to the lives of Maine Jews. Currently the state-wide index has records on over 25,000 Jewish Mainers and 200 Maine Jewish organizations.

People    The 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.

Organizations    DWJ is also building a community-based history around the 20 religious and secular institutions that were or are the lifeblood of the Old Town-Orono Jewish community � as well as the source of quite regular souris (headaches). The project is creating 'family trees' of those often-interconnected local institutions: some 180 Jewish service organizations, 94 Jewish religious bodies, 18 Chevra Kaddisha and cemeteries, 15 Jewish camps, and 240 businesses crucial to the economic survival of Maine Jews.

Places    The state-wide database has information on Maine Jews from over 90 cities and towns . Users can seek information in a particular town or city or can select a wider area to search on the state map index . Each option allows users to find organizations and people either in these key cities/towns or by county.

Oral Histories    The DOTOJ project is also interested in collecting oral histories.

Sources    The Documenting Maine Jewry methodology is basically a jigsaw approach. We take whatever community, municipal, and cemetery records we have and merge them into a common database. As a result, we face problems of duplication and incompleteness. To minimize those problems, we try to name-match only when we have at least two factual sources for a given name. Ultimately, we feel it is better to have duplicate records than inaccurate information linking two unrelated people with the same names; Jews do love to repeat certain family names. In the name of historic accuracy, we ask families to supplement/correct their information using the on-line edit function on their page, or by emailing correct information to

For security reasons, complete access to the database is available only on request. A full index of all burials , however, is publicly available.

Volunteers    The Old Town-Orono Documenting Maine Jewry effort is largely a volunteer effort; we always welcome more help. Volunteers interested in photographing older Jewish headstones, collecting information on a particular town or organization, transferring data from print to electronic records, or upgrading software should email to

Finances    Financial contributions supplement the volunteer effort by supporting data collection and outreach. DMJ is under the financial supervision of Temple Beth El Portland. Donations are welcome using the Tzedakah box below or by sending a gift (marked DMJ) to the Temple Beth El, 400 Deering Ave, Portland, Maine 04103. Major donors can select a range of contributions to honor their own Maine immigrant family or to inspire and inform the next generation of Maine Jews.

Heart and Soul    The core of the project is the addition of new information by Maine Jews, whether online through the website, by email, or by old-fashioned mail. We encourage all registered users to supplement or correct existing information on individuals using the edit function on each person's page. Historical documents, oral accounts, photographs of community activities, and print articles can be emailed to site coordinator. To get a mailing address, please email describing the materials you would like to share.

Last Updated : 2 September 2010

Page Displayed : / Monday November 30, 2015

Last Updated : June 20, 2015