Mainers and "The Old Country"

Maine map States and Provinces map

Jews have migrated to Maine from Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, Cuba and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. Others first settled in the Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, or other parts of the States and Canada and then a few years later or a few generations later migrated North to Maine.
The question most often asked is "Why did Jews migrate to Maine ?" Our current knowledge is really not much more than speculation. Some recollections have it that Jews moved to Maine because
  • they got lost heading to the bigger cities;
  • their boat left them in Maine;
  • they heard that Portland was a "Jersuleum of the North";
  • they already had family here;
  • HIAS Industrial Removal Office arranged for them to move to Maine;
  • they were drawn to Maine by the lumber industry and the trading economy;
  • they heard that Maine looked like Lithuania and Poland;
  • they just had to get away from the crowded and unhealthy immigrant districts further South; OR
  • Y'vai V'shait ("who knows ?")
The map listing is based on the information currently in the DOMJ database. Clicking on a marker provides the name of the area and the number of records the DOMJ database currently has for that area. The Old Country map provides some indication where Maine Jews originated from in Europe. Please note that locations are given by current political boundaries, not necessarily by the boundaries when the immigrants left Europe. However the census data of course provides information based on the boundaries at the time of the census. In addition, as boundaries of the empires of Russia, Poland, and Austrian-Hungarian empires 'moved' and many people identified with their 'own' place, they often reported to census takers that they lived in "Russia;Lithuania" or some other combination of an empire name and a more nationalistic name.
Please note that only 60% or so of the entries in the database have specific enough local information to be included in this map index. This map also indicates links to those to emigrated from the States to Israel.
When Jews settled in Maine, some chose to live in the larger cities and towns ; others elected to live in quite rural areas. The Jewish map of Maine reflects the range of places Jews settled - from York in the South to Fort Kent in the North; from Lubec in the East to Skowhegan in the West. The 'From-Away' map provides some indication of the in-migration and out-migration patterns for Maine Jews from other parts of the United States and Canada.

last updated : Oct 2, 2008

  • Documenting Maine Jewry
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Financial contributions to DMJ can be made in honor of your own Maine immigrant family or to inspire and inform the next generation of Maine Jews. These contributions 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.