Monsey Memories: Alexander Selman, Dry Goods Peddler in Spring Valley

Monsey Memories: Alexander Selman, Dry Goods Peddler in Spring Valley

Yitzy Fried

In the past, we have profiled the Congregation Sons of Israel, as well as Rabbi Jacob Cohen, who was the Rov of the shul on Henrietta Place. A bit further down Henrietta was the residence of Alexander (Eliyahu Chaim) and Ettel Selman, among the founders of the shul, who resided in Rockland County from the time they arrived from Russia in the early 1900’s. They would remain here for the rest of their lives.

Eliyahu Chaim Selman was born in Russia to his father, Reb Reuven Selman, in the year 1877. He married his wife Ettel in 1902, and the couple arrived in America in the year 1905, settling in Rockland County soon thereafter. They had three daughters, Chana, Chasha, and Rivkah Leah.

Eliyahu Chaim became a dry goods peddler working for himself.

In 1946, we find the following article in The Journal News concerning Mr. Selman and his business. “Bundle theft investigated. Clothing stolen from peddler is recovered in Ramapo. A large bundle of clothing stolen last night from a truck owned by A. Selman, a Spring Valley peddler, while it was parked in the Selman garage at 27 Henrietta Place, was found this morning in front of the residence of Mrs. Betty Onish of Old Nyack Turnpike, in Ramapo, on the outskirts of Spring Valley.

“Mr. Selman was asked to identify the articles but told Chief Lunney that he would be unable to do so until Saturday night because of the religious holiday.” 

Seventy years ago— the 13th of Nissan of the year 1954—Mr. Selman returned his soul to its Maker. An obituary appeared in a local newspaper: “Alexander Selman of 27 Henrietta Place, for more than forty years a dry goods merchant in Spring Valley, died last Friday after a long illness, aged 75 years.

“He was a well-known resident of the Spring Valley community and was one of the founders of Congregation Sons of Israel. Mr. Selman leaves his wife and three daughters, Mrs. Anne Corn and the Misses Clara and Ruth Selman, all of the Bronx. Funeral services were held Friday at the synagogue of the Congregation Sons of Israel, at the Jewish Memorial Chapel, and burial was in the Sons of Israel Cemetery.”

Indeed, Mr. Selman and his wife’s burial place can be found in the aforementioned cemetery plot—an everlasting memorial to an early pioneer of the Jewish community in Rockland County.  

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