My walking trail of Jewish Manhattan
using Oscar Israelowitz’s book, Jewish Heritage Trail of New York as my guide. With Google Maps, I was able to plan and enjoy without wasting time and energy, and so had an amazing experience.
Edited Wikipedia provides further info.
Some American Jewish music. More on bottom of the right hand side panel # 1 to 11
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and theHudson River and between West 59th Street and West 116th Street. The Upper West Side is sometimes also considered by the real estate industry to include the neighborhood of Morningside Heights.
Like the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side is an upscale, primarily residential area with many of its residents working in more commercial areas in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. It has the reputation of being home to New York City’s cultural, intellectual hub (with Columbia University located at the north end of the neighborhood), and artistic workers (with Lincoln Center located at the south end), while the Upper East Side is traditionally perceived to be home to commercial and business types.
The neighborhood is also referred to for short as just the “UWS”.
Stop 131: Richard Tucker Memorial Park
Broadway & 66th Street
Richard Tucker (August 28, 1913 – January 8, 1975) was an American operatic tenor
Tucker was born Rivn (Rubin) Ticker in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Bessarabian Jewish parents, who immigrated to the US in 1911. His father, Sruel (Sam) Ticker, and mother Fanya-Tsipa (Fanny) Ticker had already adopted the surname “Tucker” by the time their son entered first grade. His musical aptitude was discovered early, and was nurtured under the tutelage of Samuel Weisser at the Tifereth Israel synagogue in lower Manhattan. As a teenager, Tucker’s interests alternated between athletics, at which he excelled during his high-school years, and singing for weddings and bar mitzvahs as a cantorial student. Eventually, he progressed from a part-time cantor at Temple Emanuel in Passaic, New Jersey, to full-time cantorships at Temple Adath Israel in the Bronx and, in June 1943, at the large and prestigious Brooklyn Jewish Center. Until then, Tucker’s income derived mainly from his weekly commissions as a salesman for the Reliable Silk Company, in Manhattan’s garment district.
On February 11, 1936, Tucker married Sara Perelmuth, the youngest child (and only daughter) of Levi and Anna Perelmuth, proprietors of the Grand Mansion, a kosher banquet hall in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At the time of Tucker’s wedding to their daughter, the Perelmuths’ musically gifted eldest son, Yakob, had progressed from a part-time jazz violinist andlyric tenor vocalist to a national radio star who had already set his sights on an operatic career. Under the management of Sol Hurok, the eldest of the Perelmuth offspring, now renamed Jan Peerce, reached his goal when the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera Company, Edward Johnson, offered him a contract after an impressive audition. When Peerce made his much-acclaimed debut at the Met on November 29, 1941, his sister and her new husband were living with Peerce’s parents while Tucker was trying to make a success as the sole proprietor (and only employee) of a silk-lining sales business while also officiating at Temple Adath Israel in the Bronx.
Although Tucker’s well-crafted public image was that of a competitive, overwhelmingly self-confident performer, his offstage demeanor was that of an inherently private but unfailingly considerate man, especially where fans and colleagues were concerned. Never prone to looking back upon his career, Tucker always lived in the moment and maintained a boyish outlook on life.[attribution needed] He also displayed a propensity for playing pranks on some of his fellow singers, often provoking a smile at some inappropriate moment in a performance. Once, during a broadcast of La forza del destino with baritone Robert Merrill, Tucker sneaked a nude photograph into a small trunk that Merrill opened onstage. In later years, Merrill described his tenor friend as “an original, right out of the pages of a Damon Runyon story.”
Ironically, Tucker was touring with Merrill in a national series of joint concerts when, on January 8, 1975, he died of a heart attack while resting before an evening performance inKalamazoo, Michigan. He is the only person whose funeral has been held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. In tribute to his legacy at the Met, the city of New York designated the park adjacent to Lincoln Center as Richard Tucker Square.
Shortly after his death, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation was established by his widow, sons, colleagues, and friends, “to perpetuate the memory of America’s greatest tenor through projects in aid of gifted young singers.” In the intervening decades, the Richard Tucker Foundation, whose annual televised concerts have been hosted by Luciano Pavarotti and other opera stars of the past and present, has consistently awarded the largest vocal-music grants and scholarships. Recipients include sopranos Renée Fleming, Deborah Voigt, tenors Richard Leech, Stephen Costello, James Valenti and other opera singers of international renown.
A street corner near Lincoln Center is named for him.
- Richard Tucker in La fanciulla del West
- Renata Tebaldi and Richard Tucker in a scene from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut
- Richard Tucker in operetta
Stop 132: Holocaust Survivors’ Synagogue
44 West 66th Street
Congregation Habonim was founded in 1939 by a group of refugees from Nazi Germany. Was originally Reform, but since 1997 it has followed the Conservative movement.
Stop 133: Hebrew Arts School
Merkin Concert Hall
Merkin Concert Hall is a 449-seat concert hall in Manhattan, New York City. The hall, named in honor of Hermann and Ursula Merkin, is part of the Kaufman Music Center, a complex that includes the Lucy Moses School, a community arts school, and the Special Music School (P.S. 859), a New York City public school for musically gifted children. Merkin Concert Hall hosts 70,000  concert goers a year.
Merkin Concert Hall opened in Kaufman Music Center’s (then The Hebrew Art School’s) Abraham Goodman House in 1978, and soon after distinguished itself as an important New York City venue, featuring innovative classical and new music programming (it is the recipient of three awards in Adventurous Programming by ASCAP/Chamber Music America).Located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, it is near the Lincoln Center campus but is not affiliated with it. Merkin Hall hosts over 200 concerts a year, many of them Kaufman Music Center presentations. It has several long-running series, presenting established and emerging artists, as well as Broadway and Family focused shows. Beginning in 1986, Kaufman Music Center has co-presented New Sounds Live with WNYC, hosted by John Schaefer and broadcast live on the radio. In 2003, New York Festival of Song began its series of co-presentations at Merkin Hall as well. WQXR-FM‘s online webcast Q2 began live streaming of Kaufman Music Center’s Ecstatic Music Festival in 2011.
Stop 134: Oldest Congregation in North America
Congregation Shearith Israel
8 West 70th Street
Congregation Shearith Israel
Founding and synagogue buildings
The first group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews arrived in New York (New Amsterdam) in September 1654. After being initially rebuffed by anti-Semitic Governor Peter Stuyvesant, Jews were given official permission to settle in the colony in 1655. This marks the founding of the Congregation Shearith Israel. Despite their permission to stay in New Amsterdam they continued to face discrimination and were not given permission to worship in a public synagogue for some time (throughout the Dutch period and even into the British). The Congregation did, however, make arrangements for a cemetery beginning in 1656. It was not until 1730 that the Congregation was able to build a synagogue of its own; it was built on Mill Street in lower Manhattan. Before 1730, as is evidenced from a map of New York from 1695, the congregation worshipped in rented quarters on Beaver Street and subsequently on Mill Street. Since 1730 the Congregation has worshipped in five synagogues:
- Mill Street, 1730
- Mill Street re-built and expanded, 1818
- Crosby Street, 1834
- 19th Street, 1860
- West 70th Street, 1897 (present building.)
Birthing of major Jewish institutions
As the American Reform Judaism made headway and changes on the synagogue scene in the late 19th century, many rabbis critical of the Reform movement looked for ways to strengthen traditional synagogues. Shearith Israel, and its rabbi, Henry Pereira Mendes, was at the fore of these efforts. Rabbi Mendes cofounded the American Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in 1886, in order to train traditional rabbis. Shearith Israel was the first home to the school. In JTS’s earliest days, it taught and researched rabbinics similarly to traditional yeshivas, in contrast to the Reform Hebrew Union College. It is not certain whether at the time JTS hewed very closely to existing yeshiva-style, but significant deviations would be out of character with Shearith Israel and Rabbi Mendes.
Twelve years later, in 1896, Mendes was acting president of JTS, and promoted the formation of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (commonly known as theOU), a synagogue umbrella group that provided an alternative to the Reform movement’s Union of Hebrew Congregations of America.
As JTS grew, it needed better financing and a full-time head. The seminary moved to its own building, and Mendes was replaced by Solomon Schechter. However, Schechter developed a less traditional ideology, which became the basis for Conservative Judaism (also known as Masorti). The split was not great initially, and there was a great deal of cooperation in the Orthodox and Conservative camps but, over time, the divide became clearer, and Schechter formed the United Synagogue of America (now the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, or USCJ) to promote synagogue affiliation with his conservative-but-unorthodox ideology. Shearith Israel stayed in the Orthodox camp, eventually repudiating its association with its offspring, JTS.
In a sense, then, Shearith Israel was the birthplace of three of the largest and most significant Jewish religious organizations in America: JTS, the OU, and USCJ. Shearith Israel remains a member of one of the three: the Orthodox Union.