This Month in History

Allies in Aisle Four


“The First National Stores management and personnel extend to their thousands of Jewish customers their sincere wish for a Passover replete with joy and happiness and a year of deliverance from modern day tyranny, bigotry and intolerance.” The words are powerful, especially coming from a supermarket chain. Someone at First National Stores knew the value of Hineni, even during the gilded prosperity of 1957.

Despite all the sock hops and poodle skirts, the 1950s boiled with antisemitism: the newly formed Liberty Lobby promoted Holocaust denial, and many Jewish public figures were targets of McCarthyist blacklisting.

Speaking out in defense of Jewish people, or even acknowledging that antisemitism was a valid concern, was a strong statement for First National Stores, a grocery chain once headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts. The company was later known as Finast, then Edwards Super Foods, before it finally dissolved in the 1990s. But this greeting in the Jewish Herald remains; the Hebrew at the top translates as, “Next year in Israel,” the final blessing of the Passover Seder.

This month in history