Kalman Berkovitz (later spelled Bercowetz) was born in Slutz, Minsk, Gubernia (Russia) in 1882 and died at age 89 on July 23, 1970. In Russia Bercovitz was a kosher butcher in the Czar’s army, according to his son, Irving. He served in this role for approximately two years before emigrating to the United States in 1904, just before the Japanese-Russo war broke out. Bercovitz arrived in New York and found work in the slaughter-houses which once sat where the United Nations now stands. He moved to Meriden, Connecticut looking to get out of the city and to work with farmers and livestock in the country.
Kalman eventually met and married Rebecca Margazovich and they settled on Bellevue Street in Hartford, where Mrs. Berkovitz kept a cow in the back yard and made her own cheese, cream and butter. In 1909 the couple bought 80 acres in Bloomfield fulfilling Kalman’s dream of owning a farm. The farmhouse had no central heating, electricity and water came from a hand pump. Around 1912 a wood furnace was installed in the cellar and running water and indoor plumbing in 1917.
The Berkovitzes eventually ran a wholesale and retail meat business that grew as Bloomfield grew up around them. In 1933 Kalman opened a wholesale and retail food center with his three sons and his son-in-law incorporated as the Connecticut Packing Company (Copaco) which was one of the largest retail outfits of its kind in New England.
From 1925 on the company also provided government and private medical researchers with sterile animal tissues and glands, contributing to animal husbandry, livestock disease prevention and eventually the use of animal tissues to repair human heart valves.
Kalman remarried in 1943 after the death of his first wife. In 1952 he bought a house on eight acres of land that he gave to the Jews of Bloomfield, from which Beth Hillel Synagogue emerged. His four children and their children became strong supporters of the Greater Hartford Jewish community.