News Release

The Traditions and Legacy of Jewish Homesteaders

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Date: December 2, 2020

  National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Homestead National Monument of America 8523 West State Highway 4 Beatrice, Nebraska 68310 402-223-3514
Homestead National Monument of America News Release
For Immediate Release 
Contact: Amber Kirkendall (402) 223-3514  
The Traditions and Legacy of Jewish Homesteaders

Beatrice, Nebraska – The Festival of Prairie Cultures continues with Jewish holiday traditions. Join Rebeca E. Bender, noted author, as she takes us to North Dakota to celebrate the holidays with over 80 families of Jewish descent.  This presentation will be the final installment of Homestead National Monument of America’s virtual Winter Festival Presentation Series. The event will take place live on Facebook on Sunday, December 13, at 2:00 pm. Our Facebook page can be located by visiting

Rebecca E. Bender and her father Kenneth M. Bender are coauthors of Still (NDSU Press 2019), a biography/memoir of five generations of Bender’s Jewish family. Their experiences span three continents. Two of these five generations were Jewish farming homesteaders near Ashley, North Dakota. At its height, Ashley, ND was so big that it supported two separate synagogues. Bender’s family came to the United States on the promise of the Homestead Act, after escaping with family members remaining after the 1905 Odessa pogroms. Still is the 2019 Independent Press Award First Place Winner (Judaism category) and the 2020 Midwest Book Award Gold Medal Winner (Religion/Philosophy category). Still has recently been cited as a resource in historian David Moon's The American Steppes: The Unexpected Russian Roots of Great Plains Agriculture, 1870s-1930s (Cambridge University Press 2020). Rebecca also researched and successfully wrote the nomination for the Ashley Jewish Homesteaders Cemetery to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Homestead Act gave immigrants an incentive to flee the oppressive conditions Jewish Europeans were facing in Imperial Russia and gave them a pathway to American citizenship and land ownership. Rebecca E. Bender will detail the winter holiday traditions and experiences of this homesteading community,” said Mark Engler, Superintendent at Homestead National Monument of America.The Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures is possible due to the generous support of Humanities Nebraska and the Friends of Homestead.

Remember, Homestead National Monument of America has an exciting schedule of events planned for 2021. Keep up with the latest information by following us on Twitter (HomesteadNM) and Facebook (Homestead National Monument of America).

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Last updated: December 8, 2020

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8523 West State Highway 4
Beatrice, NE 68310


402 223-3514

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