A Holocaust survivor lights a candle at an Auschwitz crematorium.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In 1894, 36-year-old Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia went to Russia with a plan to resettle large numbers of Jews from the Pale of Settlement in Siberia and then train them to make the tundra bloom. For Krauskopf, it was a four-way win. His plan would solve the problem of Jewish poverty in Russia, help the Czar develop the interior of his empire, remove masses of Jews from the dangers of antisemitism and most importantly, redirect Jewish immigration away from America. Met with disinterest in St. Petersburg, Krauskopf headed south and met with Leo Tolstoy at his estate at Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy agreed to meet with the young rabbi but then rebuked him and told him that if he wanted to save Jews, he should bring them to America and train them to be farmers there in freedom and safety. Two years later, Krauskopf opened a Farm School, now Delaware Valley University, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
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