Joseph Nudelman; Pioneer Farmer in North Dakota, California and Nevada

Joseph Nudelman (1844-1935), the eldest of 12 children, was born near Odessa, Russia. He came to the US in 1882 as the head of a group of 25 families intent on starting a Jewish farming community under the auspices of the Baron Hirsch Foundation. They settled first in Winnipeg, Canada and a year later near Bismark, North Dakota, where they suffered terribly to make ends meet as unskilled farmers in a very hostile environment.

In 1892, Joseph briefly gave up farming and moved his family to Portland. But the urge to go “back to the soil” remained strong, and in 1893 he and several of his brothers began a new colony near Porterville, Tulare County, California. This too failed after a few years, and Joseph moved his family to an established farming colony near Wellington, Nevada, about 50 miles from Carson City, where several of his brothers had settled. In 1902, after years of farming and hardship, Joseph sold his homestead for $15 an acre and settled permanently in Portland where most of his brothers and sisters were.

He opened a grocery and kosher meat market, J. Nudelman and Sons, in South Portland at First and Market Streets and became very involved with the local Jewish community. He helped found the first Talmud Torah school in Portland and helped establish a Jewish Old Men’s Home. He was a founder and first president of Congregation Shaarie Torah. Joseph died in 1935 at the age of 90.