ALTER BARBELL was born in Pruzany, in what was then Russia on January 24, 1877. He came to the via Hamburg aboard the Hamburg-American line steamship Phoenicia, arriving at Ellis Island, New York on February 28, 1902. He was joined by his wife Dora and sons Myer and Elmer in 1904. The Barbell family was living in South Philadelphia when the 1910 Census was enumerated, and another child had been born there, a son named Israel, by then. Shortly after the 1910 Census was taken, the family had moved to 327 Liberty Street in Camden, where daughter Rose Lillian Barbell was born in 1911. Camden's first synagogue,  generally referred to as the Lichtenstein Shul as its main patron was local businessman Abraham Lichtenstein, was on this block, and it very well may have been through Lichtenstein's influence that Alter Barbell moved to Camden.  Alter Barbell had come to America as a tailor, but it was not long before he began working as a Hebrew teacher, the occupation he is best remembered for.

Alter Barbell filed his declaration of Intention to become an American Citizen in March of 1917. The family then lived at 1122 Baring Street. When the 1920 Census was compiled, the family lived at 1130 Baring Street, a few doors north of Kaighn Avenue, between Broadway and South 6th Street. The back doors of the homes on Baring Street face South 6th Street. Son Myer at that time was working as a draftsman in a factory, while Elmer worked as a bookkeeper at a furniture store.

The family was still living on Baring Street in April of 1930. By this time Myer Barbell had married and moved to 2 Leonard Avenue in East Camden, where he practiced medicine as a physiotherapist. The other children still lived at home. Elmer Barbell was now an accountant, while Israel Barbell had become a dentist. 

Alter Barbell was still teaching Hebrew in Camden as late as 1938. He passed away at the age of 69 on July 14, 1946 and was buried in the new Jewish section at New Camden Cemetery. His widow, Dora Barbell resided at 1227 Langham Avenue with son Elmer and daughter-in-law Sadie. Rose Lillian Barbell also lived at the Langham Avenue address. Israel Barbell was then living at 297 Rand Street in East Camden. Dr. Myer Barbell had moved around the corner, to 2737 Federal Street.

There was a learned man in Hebrew who lived on Baring Street, Camden, was married, and held in his home a daily after school instruction for boys in order to be bar mitzvah-ed at their 13th birthday period.  I was one of his students in 1938. He was a tough fellow, and appeared (in my mind's eye) to have been in his 50's or early 60s.  When I would appear at his house for my lesson, at about 4:00pm, there would always be a wonderful cooking smell coming from his wife's kitchen.  He taught many of the Jewish boys in Camden who did not go to the Toma Torah on Kaighn Avenue.

That was Mr. Barbell, and he was a Hebrew teacher (think it was $0.25 or $0.50 a lesson.  The boys would have their lesson, "time," and sit out on the front area waiting for the call to come in to the room where Mr. Barbel gave his lessons.  That room had several tables, and there would be two or three boys in the room at the same time with the teacher spending time with each one, 

The study of Hebrew was initiated by Mr. Barbell sitting with each boy and going over the Hebrew basic letters one at a time utilizing the necessary accents.  Then, verbally, he worked with each boy placing the letters together to create the whole word.  If you were not getting it, Mr. Barbel would give you a little push, then, in some instances, give you a smack!

He was a man in his 60's, had a sported a yarmulke, slight white beard, and in the end, got results!  The lesson usually took 30 minutes or a little longer and it consisted of learning the letters, reading and verbally speaking the Hebrew.

Joseph Cooper
July 2004

Declaration of Intention
to become an
American Citizen

March 12, 1917

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Petition For Naturalization
as an
American Citizen

November 10, 1919

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Witnessed by
 Samuel Tarter, of 1142 South 6th Street,
Samuel Shane, of 1026
Recorded by
Francis Ford Patterson Jr.
Camden County Clerk

Oath of Allegiance
as an
American Citizen

November 10, 1917

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This is the other side of the previous image. The ink bled through, and you will notice reversed lettering in the enlarged view.

Camden Courier-Post - June 4, 1933
Funds to Aid Women's Home, Talmud Torah and Free Loan

A campaign to raise funds for the Federation of Jewish' Charities of Camden was launched yesterday under the chairmanship of E. George Aaron. The drive will continue a week.

Funds raised will be contributed to the support of the Hebrew Ladies' Sheltering Home, the Talmud Torah, and the Free Loan Fund.

The campaign, Aaron' announced, will be aided by the Jewish charitable organizations of Camden and the following have been named team captains:

Rabbi N. Riff, Samuel Shane, L. Tarter, S. Lippman, A. Barbell, J. Grossberg, H. Odlen, Leon Rose, Lewis Liberman, Mrs. S. Litow, Mrs. M. Shapiro, Mrs. H. Kaplan, Mrs. S. Shane, Mrs. R. Bukstel. Mrs. F. Bloom, Mrs. V. Gerber and Mrs. S. S. Lewis.

There will be a meeting in the Talmud Torah tonight, when Rabbi B. L. Levinthal, of Philadelphia, will speak in support of the campaign. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 7, 1933
Camden Federation to Continue Campaign All This Week

More than $1500 in pledges and in cash have been received in the campaign of the Camden Federation of Jewish Charities, it was announced last night by E. George Aaron, chairman of the campaign committee. The drive will continue through this week. 

Campaign workers seeking funds for the Hebrew Ladies' Charities, Sheltering Home, Camden Talmud Torah and Free Loan Fund follow: Rabbi N. Riff, Mr. and Mrs. S. Shane, Mrs. R. Bukstel, Mrs. S. Litow, Mrs. M. Shapiro, Mrs. H. Kaplan, Mrs. L. Creskoff, Mrs. B. Ostroff, Mrs. S. Goldstein Mrs. A. Goodman, Mrs. S. Masel, Mrs. M. Koll, Mrs. F. Bloom, Mrs. M. Cornrich, Mrs. V. Gerber, Mrs. L. Weiss and Mrs. S. Soloff, Leon H. Rose, Lewis Liberman, A. Barbell, S. S. Lewis, J. Grossberg, B. Greenberg, S. Lippman, J. Ruttenberg, S. Stein. H. Odlen, J. Block, O. Praissman, S. Naden, D. Lefkowitz, and David Epstein.

Camden Courier-Post - June 24, 1933

The Federation of Jewish Charities concluded its campaign for funds Thursday night with a banquet attended by workers and directors of the organization, at the Talmud Torah, 621 Kaighn Avenue

E. George Aaron, chairman of the campaign, announced that more than $5000 was pledged. Talks were made by Herman Odlen, Samuel Shane, Samuel Lippman, A. Barbell, Mrs. S. Litow, Mrs. M. Shapiro and Mrs. C. Riff.

Rabbi N. Riff presented a walking stick to Aaron for his work as head of the drive

Camden Courier-Post

January 21, 1938

New Camden Cemetery
Camden NJ

May 30, 2005

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