Known locally in Maine as “The County”, it is the largest American county by land area east of the Mississippi River (St. Louis County, Minnesota, is larger by total area). As Maine’s northernmost county, its northernmost village, Estcourt Station, is therefore also the northernmost community in New England and in the contiguous United States east of the Great Lakes.
“Rabbi Baum was the official rabbi from 1965-1989. Dr. Baum also took a sabbatical from his New York City psychotherapy practice to teach Psychology at the University of Maine from 1966 t0 1969. My best memory of Rabbi Baum was his insisting that children be allowed to stay in the sanctuary during services, even if they were vocal and active. Many a mother would rush to take restless toddlers and children out of services only to have Harry say, ‘ the children stay.’ I loved that he welcomed everyone.”
“When Dr. Baum ended his tenure with the synagogue, we were very blessed to have a wonderful Yeshiva graduate who moved from New York to Presque Isle. Raphael ‘Ray’ Gribetz took over leading services during the High Holidays. He was an artist who taught art at the University of Maine, and also made great efforts in opening his home as a center of Jewish learning when the synagogue was closed due to the cost of keeping it heated through the winter. I remember community gatherings for Passover and other holidays, all convened by Ray and his lovely wife, Nilda.”- Toby Adelman
Hiram Adelman was 19 when he arrived in this country, living first in New York City, working odd jobs. One day while waiting for a train, he heard men talking about Maine where he knew no one but was told there were a few Jews in Bangor, which was not too far. He traveled as far as his ticket allowed, to Houlton. In 1903, he opened a dry goods store in Mars Hill. When automobiles were needed, Hiram sold automobiles. One traveling salesman overheard Hiram buying a crop of potatoes, and a deal was struck. Hiram bartered fertilizer, manufactured sprayers for potato plants, and managed farms in addition to running his store, creating what ended up being one of the largest potato businesses in Aroostook County.
“Presque Isle was the hub of our Jewish activities. I believe this town had the most Jewish families… Mr Harry Green, a merchant, owned a large building on Main Street. His store was on the first floor, but upstairs was where, until the synagogue was built, we held Sunday school and had family get togethers. The only International B’nai Brith Lodge and Chapter held their meetings there.”
– oral history
Harry Green’s store on Main Street, Presque Isle