Stop & Shop is such a fixture of New England life that it can seem as if the familiar stores have been around forever. But this ubiquitous supermarket chain has humble roots, starting with a Jewish immigrant family who opened a grocery store in Massachusetts 100 years ago. That family’s papers are held by the AJHS-NEA.
The Rabinovitz family came to America from Malestovka, Russia in 1891. Arriving first in New York, they were then sent to Boston by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Yente Rabinovitz soon opened small grocery store on Salem Street. Two years later, Yente and husband Nachman’s son Joseph, then 15, began selling dried fruit wholesale. Six years later he and his brother Max, with three partners, started the Standard Grocery Company. But it was yet another family business, the Economy Grocery Stores Company, founded by brothers Jacob and Julius Rabinovitz around 1914, which would become Stop and Shop in 1946. That same year, the boys changed their last name to Rabb.
The company expanded and diversified over the decades, acquiring other chain stores while remaining under the management of the Rabb family until the 1980s.
The Rabb family is also known for their dedication to Boston’s Jewish community. In addition to their philanthropic contributions to institutions like Beth Israel Hospital, Brandeis University, and Temple Kehillath Israel, Rabbs have also held various positions with organizations including the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Bonds for Israel, the Boston Public Library, the Kennedy Library Foundation, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
In the Rabb Family and Stop & Shop Collection are documents, memoranda, newspaper clippings, newsletters, advertisements, pamphlets, speeches, programs, correspondence, minutes, reports, and audiovisual materials chronicling the family’s lives and involvement in Stop & Shop from 1912 to 1989. To see some of the collection’s photographs and more from the early days of Stop & Shop, visit this 2014 online exhibit and the AHJS-NEA’s photo album on Facebook.