Attended Selichot services last night at Park East Shul with Helfgot singing. It was fabulous (ended at 1.00 AM) and his high notes were incredible.
Perlman has performed at least twice at Park East and I was there to enjoy him and Helfgot together.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and well over the fast.
Itzhak Perlman Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot
Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman and our very own, Chief Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot join forces for a musical exploration of liturgical and traditional works in new arrangements for both chamber orchestra and klezmer settings. The music showcases the confluences between the violinist’s famed classical technique and Cantor Helfgot’s magnificent voice.
Excerpt from “Rejoice”: Yism’Khu (They Shall Rejoice)
The architects were Schneider and Herter who designed numerous tenements on New York’s Lower East Side as well as Hell’s Kitchenneighborhoods. The building is similar to other synagogues built at the time which were in the Moorish Revival style that also featured a prominent Rose Window. One of the most remarkable characteristics is the asymmetrical twin towers with the eastern tower being taller (most other synagogues of the period featured twin towers of similar height). The towers are also adorned differently. Each of the towers originally were also topped by a bulbous dome which have since been removed. It is one of fewer than a hundred surviving nineteenth-century American synagogues.
Over the door way engraved in granite and written in Hebrew is a verse from Psalm 100. “Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.”
Rabbi Drachman served as spiritual leader for fifty-one years. He died in 1945. Zev Zahavy was appointed rabbi of the synagogue on September 1, 1952. He was known as a dynamic spokesman for Orthodox Judaism. More than 200 of his sermons were reported on in the New York Times. He and his wife Edith, a noted educator, founded the Park East Day School. On March 16, 1957, Robert Briscoe, the Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, carrying his Talis bag from Dublin visited and prayed at the synagogue on Shabbas morning.
Since 1962, the synagogue’s rabbi has been Arthur Schneier. The Assistant Rabbi (since August 2006), Rabbi Evan Hoffman, delivered a well-attended Wednesday evening Bible class. In 2011, Rabbi Hoffman was succeeded by Rabbi Binyamin Lehrfield. Rabbi Einsidler is the religious spiritual organizer, his wife Toby is the dynamic office and youth leader. The synagogue’s Chief Cantor is Yitzchak Meir Helfgotand its Cantor is Benny Rogosnitzky.
The area was once generally considered to be part of the Lower East Side, but began to develop its own identity and culture in the late 1960s, when many artists, musicians, students and hippies began to move into the area, attracted by cheap rents and the base ofBeatniks who had lived there since the 1950s. The neighborhood has become a center of the counterculture in New York, and is known as the birthplace and historical home of many artistic movements, including punk rock and the Nuyorican literary movement. It has also been the site of protests and riots.
East Village is still known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife and artistic sensibility, although in recent decades it has been argued that gentrification has changed the character of the neighborhood.
By World War I, the Yiddish Theater District was a rival of Broadway in scale and quality, cited by journalists Lincoln Steffens, Norman Hapgood, and others as the best in the city. It was also the leading Yiddish theater district in the world. The District’s theaters hosted as many as 20 to 30 shows a night.
After World War II, however, Yiddish theater began to die out. As the Yiddish-speaking population grew older, Yiddish theaters disappeared, and by the mid-1950s few theaters were left in the District.
In addition to Yiddish theaters, the District had related music stores, photography studios, flower shops, restaurants, and cafes (including Cafe Royal, on East 12th Street and Second Avenue). A high percentage of the Yiddish and Hebrew sheet music, including Yiddish theater hits, was published by Metro Music, on Second Avenue in the District. Metro Music went out of business in the 1970s. The building at 31 East 7th Street in the District is owned by the Hebrew Actors Union, the first theatrical union in the US.
George Gershwin, c. late 1920s or early 1930s
The childhood home of composer and pianist George Gershwin (born Jacob Gershvin) and his brother lyricist Ira Gershwin (born Israel Gershowitz) was in the center of the Yiddish Theater District, on the second floor at 91 Second Avenue, between East 5th Street and East 6th Street. They frequented the local Yiddish theaters, with George running errands for members and appearing onstage as an extra. Composer and lyricistIrving Berlin (born Israel Baline) also grew up in the District, in a Yiddish-speaking home. Actor John Garfield (born Jacob Garfinkle) grew up in the heart of the Yiddish Theater District.Walter Matthau had a brief career as a Yiddish Theater District concessions stand cashier.
The Second Avenue Deli, opened in 1954 by which time most of the Yiddish theaters had disappeared, thrived on the corner of Second Avenue and East 10th Street in the District, but it has since moved to different locations. The Yiddish Walk of Fame is on the sidewalk outside of its original location, honoring stars of the Yiddish era such as Molly Picon, actor Menasha Skulnik, singer and actor Boris Thomashevsky (grandfather of conductor, pianist, and composerMichael Tilson-Thomas), and Fyvush Finkel (born Philip Finkel).
There may have been a concert garden on the site as early as the 1880s, but there was a theatre there by 1904. During the heyday ofYiddish theatre in the Yiddish Theater District in Manhattan, the venue was the Player’s Theatre, and was part of the “Jewish Rialto” along Second Avenue. By the 1920s, the theatre was exhibiting films, but was converted back to dramatic use in 1958, with the first production, Little Mary Sunshine, opening in November 1959.
The original building on the site was Irving Hall, which opened in 1860 as a venue for balls, lectures, and concerts. It was also for many years the base for one faction of the city’s Democratic Party.
The facility was rebuilt, and opened as Amberg’s German Theatre in 1888 under the management of Gustav Amberg, as a home for German-language theatre.Heinrich Conried took over management in 1893, and changed the name to Irving Place Theatre. The first night of the play Narrentanz (The Fool´s Game) by Leo Birinski took place here on November 13, 1912.
Clemente Giglio converted the theatre in 1939 into a cinema to present Italian films. In 1940 it was taken over by a group of non-Equity actors, the “Merely Players”, whose productions were picketed by the theatrical unions. During WWII it presented a steady program of mixed bills of Soviet propaganda and French films, as well as weekly folk dance sessions.
McSorley’s Old Ale House, generally known as McSorley’s, is the oldest “Irish” tavern in New York City. Located at 15 East 7th Street in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, it was one of the last of the “Men Only” pubs, only admitting women after legally being forced to do so in 1970.
The aged artwork, newspaper articles covering the walls, sawdust floors, and the Irish waiters and bartenders give McSorley’s an atmosphere that many consider, correctly or not, reminiscent of “Olde New York.” No piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910, and there are many items of “historical” paraphernalia in the bar, such as Houdini‘s handcuffs, which are connected to the bar rail. There are also wishbones hanging above the bar; supposedly they were hung there by boys going off to World War I, to be removed when they returned, so the wishbones that are left are from those that never returned.
Two of McSorley’s mottos are “Be Good or Be Gone”, and “We were here before you were born”. Prior to the 1970 ruling, the motto was “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies”; the raw onions can still be had as part of McSorley’s cheese platter.
New York magazine considered McSorley’s to be one of New York City’s “Top 5 Historic Bars”.
It closed briefly following the murder of its founder Abe Lebewohl, a survivor of The Holocaust, during a robbery on March 4, 1996. The crime remains unsolved.
On January 1, 2006, new owner Jack Lebewohl closed the delicatessen at its original location in the East Village after a rent increase and a dispute over back rent that the landlord had said was due. (The East Village location later became a Chase Bank branch.) On July 31, 2007, Lebewohl announced that the delicatessen would reopen at a new location in the fall of 2007. It reopened on December 17, 2007, at the Murray Hill location with Jeremy Lebewohl, the nephew of its founder, as its new proprietor.
The sidewalk outside the old Second Avenue location is the home to what is known as the Yiddish Walk of Fame, where the names of about fifty stars of the old Yiddish-theatre era are embedded in plaques on the sidewalk, similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The original restaurant had a separate room decorated with memorabilia of Yiddish theatre actress Molly Picon, including posters, song sheets, photographs, etc. The new location has pictures of her on the walls for approximately one half of the dining area.
St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery is located at 131 East 10th Street, at the intersection of Stuyvesant Street and Second Avenue in theEast Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three and a half centuries; it is New York’s oldest site of continuous religious practice, and the church is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan.
History and architecture
In 1651, Petrus Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam, purchased land for a bowery or farm from the Dutch West India Company and by 1660 built a family chapel at the present day site of St. Marks Church. Stuyvesant died in 1672 and was interred in a vault under the chapel.
Stop 118: Hebrew Technical School Site
26-36 E 10th Street
Hebrew Technical Institute
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hebrew Technical Institute was a vocational High School in New York City. The school was founded on January 7, 1884 and closed in 1939. After completing two years at the school, students could specialize in wood-working, pattern making, metal working, instrument making, mechanical drawing, architectural drawing, wood carving, free-hand drawing or applied electricity. The school was founded after three Hebrew charity organizations formed a committee to promote technical education for the many Jewish immigrants arriving in New York at the time. The school originally opened at 206 East Broadway. After a number of relocations, the school moved into 34 and 36 Stuyvesant Street.
Kehila Kedosha Janina holds the distinction of being the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. The congregation was founded in 1906 by Greek Jewish immigrants from Ioannina, but the synagogue itself was not erected until 1927. The years from then until the Second World War were a time of prosperity for the Romaniote community in the Lower East Side: there were three rabbis in the synagogue, and on the High Holidays, there was often only standing room for synagogue services. After the Second World War, many congregants moved to other boroughs and parts of Manhattan, including Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, though these communities are no longer active.
Kehila Kedosha Janina is somewhat unusual for a Romaniote synagogue in that it runs north south with the Ehal on the north side (Romaniote synagogues typically run east to west), the bimah is in the center of the main sanctuary (most Romaniote synagogues place the bimah on the west wall), and the internal stairway for the women’s balcony. It is typical in the fact that men and women sit separately (a feature of all Orthodox synagogues).
In popular culture
A documentary film about the synagogue and community, “the Last Greeks on Broome Street.” It is directed, written and narrated by Ed Askinazi, whose great-grandparents were among the congregation’s founders.
The Bank of United States was chartered on June 23, 1913 with a capital of $100,000 and a surplus of $50,000. The bank was founded by Joseph S. Marcus, a former president of the Public Bank, also of Delancey Street. Marcus, who was responsible for the building up of Public Bank, started the new bank, with the backing of several well-known financiers, because of a disagreement with other members of the management. Though the directors of Public Bank objected to the choice of name, arguing that “ignorant foreigners would believe that the United States government was interested in this bank and that it was a branch of the United States Treasury in Washington”, the name was approved and the bank came into being.The use of such an appellation was outlawed in 1925 but did not apply retroactively.
The founder, Joseph S. Marcus, was a Jewish immigrant to the United States. Born in the town of Telz in Germany in 1862, he went to school in Essen and immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 and worked his way up from being a tailor, to a garment industry business, to a banker. He founded the Public Bank in 1906 and the Bank of United States in 1913. He died on July 3, 1927. He was also a philanthropist known for his donations to the Beth Israel Hospital and for the Hebrew Association for the Blind. His son, Bernard K. Marcus, a graduate of Worcester Academy and Columbia University, joined the bank in 1919.
Historically the settlement house, much like other settlement houses like Hull House (in Chicago, Illinois) and the Henry Street Settlement(also on the Lower East Side), served as a homes for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the United States in the late-19th and early-20th century. They provided courses for new immigrants on everything from politics to the English language to basketball. The University Settlement House also included a library, kindergarten and the first public baths. These settlements were also loci of Progressive Era reform.
One issue that captured the imagination of many of the University Settlement writers was revolution in Russia. Many of the immigrants they met on the Lower East Side were Jews from the Russian empire who were typically severely repressed under Nicholas II of Russia. Through their interaction with these immigrants several of the residents became vocal advocates of reform in Russia. During 1905 and 1906, Poole, Walling and Bullard traveled to Russia to cover the abortive 1905 Russian Revolution. They established contacts and helped establish a connection between radical writers in the U.S. and Russian revolutionaries.
University Settlement continues to provide support services to residents of the Lower East Side, and now offers programs in 21 locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn. Programs serve New Yorkers of all ages and include child care, pre-school, housing assistance, mental health services, college and career preparation, crisis intervention, activities for seniors, arts events, English classes, after-school programs and summer camps.
Emery Roth (Hungarian: Róth Imre, 1871 – August 20, 1948) was an American architect of Jewish descent who designed many of the definitive New York City hotels and apartment buildings of the 1920s and 1930s, incorporating Beaux-Arts and Art Deco details. His sons continued in the family enterprise, largely expanding the firm under the name Emery Roth & Sons.
Brunner designed several notable buildings including, with Tryon, the 1897 Congregation Shearith Israel, on Central Park West, New York, to house the United States’ oldest Jewish congregation, founded in 1654. No attempt was made to convey an “eastern” vocabulary, as was often being done for other Jewish congregations: Brunner and Tryon provided a forthright Roman Baroque temple with a projecting three-bay center that contrasts with the windowless ashlar masonry flanking it and contains a recessed loggia entrance under three large arch-headed windows, articulated by a colossal order of Corinthian columns surmounted by a pediment over a paneled attic frieze.
Those who organized the congregation in 1885 were part of a substantial wave of Romanian-Jewish immigrants, most of whom settled in the Lower East Side. The Rivington Street building, built around 1860, had previously been a church, then asynagogue, then a church again, and had been extensively remodeled in 1889. It was transformed into a synagogue for a second time when the First Roumanian-American congregation purchased it in 1902 and again remodeled it.
The congregation’s membership was in the thousands in the 1940s, but by the early 2000s had declined to around 40, as Jews moved out of the Lower East Side. Though its building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, the congregation was reluctant to accept outside assistance in maintaining it. In December 2005, water damage was found in the structural beams, and services were moved to the living room of the rabbi’s mother. In January 2006, the synagogue’s roof collapsed, and the building was demolished two months later.
First Roumanian-American/Congregation Shaarey Shamoyim
From 1881 through 1914, approximately 2 million Jews immigrated to the United States from Europe. An estimated three-quarters of them settled in New York City, primarily in the Lower East Side. Over 75,000 of these immigrants were from Romania, where Jews faced antisemitic laws, violence and expulsion. These hardships, combined with low crop yields and economic depression, resulted in 30 percent of the Jews in Romania emigrating to the United States.
Romanian Jewish immigrants in New York City gravitated to a fifteen-block area bounded by Allen, Ludlow, Houston and Grand streets. This “Romanian quarter” became the most densely populated part of the Lower East Side, with 1,500 to 1,800 people per block. These immigrants founded the First Roumanian-American congregation, also known as Congregation Shaarey Shamoyim.
The origins of the congregation are disputed; its establishment in 1885 may have been a re-organization of a congregation originally founded in 1860. Located initially close to the Romanian quarter at 70 Hester Street, and later situated at the heart of it with the move to Rivington Street, the synagogue was the preferred house of worship for the quarter’s inhabitants.
Rivington Street building
The Rivington Street building was constructed as a Protestant church around 1860 by the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church, which served the area’s large German immigrant community. In November 1864 the building was sold to the Orthodox German-Jewish Congregation Shaaray Hashomayim (“Gates of the Heavens”), which had been founded in 1841. Though its Hebrew name was essentially the same as that used by the First Roumanian-American congregation—Congregation Shaarey Shamoyim—which later purchased the building in 1902, the two congregations were unrelated.
The Church Extension and Missionary Society engaged J. Cleaveland Cady to design major alterations to the structure. Cady was, at the time, New York’s most famous church architect, and had designed many other public institutional buildings, including university buildings, hospitals and museums. His work included the original Metropolitan Opera building (since demolished), the Richardsonian Romanesque West 78th Street wing of the American Museum of Natural History, and several other buildings for the Church Extension and Missionary Society. The renovations cost approximately $36,000 (today $945,000), and included an entirely new Romanesque Revival facade in the reddish-orange brick that Cady also used on several other churches.
Renamed the Allen Street Methodist Episcopal Church (or Allen Street Memorial Church), the Rivington Street building’s new purpose was to “attract Jewish immigrants seeking conversion“. It was, however, unsuccessful in this endeavor. In 1895, the church’s pastor stated, “The existence of the church here attracts few. Our audiences are small, and contain almost no Jews.”
“Cantor’s Carnegie Hall”
The synagogue’s sanctuary had a high ceiling and “opera house” characteristics, and was renowned for its “exquisite” or “magnificent” acoustics. Known as “the Cantor’s Carnegie Hall”, First Roumanian-American became a center for cantorial music, and many of the greatest cantors of the 20th century led services there.Yossele Rosenblatt, Moshe Koussevitzky, Zavel Kwartin and Moishe Oysher all sang there, as did Jan Peerce and Richard Tucker before they became famous opera singers. Having a reputation for good cantorial singing had a positive impact on a synagogue’s finances; congregations depended on the funds from the sale of tickets for seats on the High Holy Days, and the better the cantor, the greater the attendance.
Red Buttons sang at the synagogue with Rosenblatt in 1927, and when visiting the synagogue almost 70 years later could still remember the songs. Though his family actually went to a “small storefront synagogue“, Buttons was discovered, at age eight, by a talent scout for Rosenblatt’s Coopermans Choir, who heard him singing near the intersection of Fifth Street and Avenue C, at a “pickle stand”. Buttons would sing in the choir for three years.Eddie Cantor has also been claimed as a choir member, though this is less likely.
Oysher—”the greatest of all popularizers of cantorial singing”—became the synagogue’s cantor in 1935, and the congregation’s membership peaked in the 1940s, when it numbered in the thousands. In a 1956 interview by Brendan Gill in The New Yorker magazine, Oysher described First Roumanian-American as “the most orthodox Orthodox synagogue in town”. Oysher died of a heart attack two years later “at the young age of 51”. The week of his death, he had said, “half-jokingly”, that he wanted only one person to deliver his eulogy: Chaim Porille, rabbi of the First Roumanian-American Congregation. Porille had been born in Uscieczko (then in Poland) in 1899, and moved to the United States in 1927, to serve as rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Providence, Rhode Island. He became rabbi of First Roumanian-American in 1932, a post he filled until 1962, and was a member of the executive board of the Agudath Harabonim. He died in September 1968.
First Roumanian-American synagogue building on Rivington Street
Carved stones from the arch of the entrance to the collapsed First Roumanian-American synagogue and its former Talmud Torah, incorporated into the entrance of the building next door at 95 Rivington Street
Essex Street was laid out by James Delancey just before the American Revolution as the east side of a “Delancey Square” intended for a genteel ownership; Delancey returned to England as a Loyalist in 1775, and the square was developed as building lots.
Long a part of the Lower East Side Jewish enclave, many Jewish-owned stores still operate on the street, including a pickle shop and many Judaica shops. It is also home to the Essex Street Market.
The Essex Street Market, constructed in the 1940s, is an indoor retail market that was one of a number of such facilities built in the 1930s under the administration of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at 120 Essex Street, at Delancey Street. It was in September 2013 that it was announced that the market would be integrated into the Essex Crossing.
The Essex Street Market is operated and managed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) market is made up of approximately 35 individual stalls that range in size from 90 to 600 square feet (8 to 60 m2). Tenants include Davidovich Bagels, which opened the first of its worldwide bakeries in the Essex Street Market on October 10, 2013.
In September 2013 it was announced that the market would be integrated into the Essex Crossing.
Stop 99: Schapiro’s Kosher Winery – Former
124 Rivington Street
Founded in 1899. During the Depression, Schapiro’s was allowed to operate as its product was for religious purposes.
Stop 98: Lansky Lounge
Norfolk, North of Delancey Street
The rear of Ratners used to be a “Speak Easy” during the Depression.
Named for gangster, Mayer Lansky.
Entrance via an underground alley.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the kosher restaurant in New York City. For the former British jewellery company, see Gerald Ratner.
Ratner’s was founded in 1905 by Jacob Harmatz and his brother-in-law Alex Ratner, who supposedly flipped a coin to decide whose name would be on the sign. Ratner sold his share in the restaurant to Harmatz in 1918, and it remained in the Harmatz family from then on. Jacob’s son, Harold Harmatz, took over the business in the mid-1950s, dying a year after the restaurant ceased operation in 2002.
Prior to the closing of the Delancey Street location, a back room at Ratner’s was opened as a bar called “Lansky’s Lounge,” named after the then-deceased gangster who, according to Robert Harmatz, told the owners he was there so often that he deserved to have his own room. The lounge has since closed as well[when?], though another bar continues to exist in the space.
The Ratner’s located at 111 Second Avenue, run by Abraham Harmatz, actually surpassed the Delancey Street restaurant in popularity for many years, especially during the late 1960s and early 1970s when the Lower East Side gradually became known as “The East Village” — a hip and creative Mecca. In fact Sam Jaffe[disambiguation needed], the longtime night manager of The Second Avenue Ratner’s, worked with Fillmore East impresario, Bill Graham, in stocking the Fillmore’s mezzanine food concession with Ratner’s baked goods.
In popular culture
An exterior scene of Ratner’s is shown in the movie The French Connection, where Angie and Sal Boca have a sunrise breakfast.Ratner’s was also featured at the end of the “Christmas Waltz” episode of Mad Men, first broadcast on May 20, 2012.The exterior of the 2nd Ave. Ratner’s is briefly visible in an episode of the “Naked City” TV show entitled “The Face Of The Enemy”. The episode was set in 1961.
Aron Streit, Inc. (sold under the name Streit’s) is a kosher food company based in New York City, best known for its product, Streit’sMatzo. It is the only family-owned and operated matzo company in the United States and distributes matzo in select international markets. It holds about 40 percent of the United States matzo market with its major competitor, New Jersey based Manischewitz.
The company was founded in 1916 by Aron Streit, a Jewishimmigrant from Austria. Its first factory was on Pitt Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There, Streit and his business associate Rabbi Weinberger made each piece of matzo by hand. In 1925, with the growing number of Jewish immigrants congregating in the Lower East Side, Streit, along with his two sons, moved his business to nearby Rivington Street. Soon thereafter they bought the adjacent buildings, where the company still operates today.
Since the start of the franchise, Streit’s has prided itself on traditional values and customs. A big advertising claim that they have is “while others have sold out to large corporations, we at Streit’s continue our family tradition of bringing you the best matzo and kosher food products for Passover and year round.”
Streit’s 47,000-square-foot (4,400 m2) matzo factory, along with Katz’s Delicatessen and Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery, is a surviving piece of the Lower East Side’s Jewish heritage. At the turn of the 20th century Jews, along with other European Immigrants, were crammed into the many unsanitary tenements of the Lower East Side. In 1915 they made up 60 percent of the Lower East Side population. Because of the large Jewish presence, Jewish centric businesses like Streit’s opened and flourished. However, because of the poor living conditions, as soon as they financially could, many Jewish families moved out of the tenements to new areas of industry in New York City, namely uptown and Brooklyn, slowly making Streit’s a relic of the past.
Since the 1980s the Lower East Side has experienced hyper gentrification. The neighborhood is now a burgeoning area for glass luxury high rise buildings such as the Blue Condo and the Hotel on Rivington – a stark contrast to Streit’s modest brick factory. Despite the changing neighborhood, the factory still tries to integrate itself with the community. It is known to give out fresh pieces of matzo to passing pedestrians and its adjacent shop at one point even served as a community art gallery. The Streit family even considered at one point to open a café or bar that serves matzo, to go with the Lower East Side’s new nightlife scene.
Streit’s matzo factory usually bakes about 16,000 pounds of matzo each day. In preparation for Passover the factory runs 20 hours a day, testing its 30,000 pounds per day capacity.The factory follows strict kosher laws. Only Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath-observing) Jews are allowed to touch the dough. However, once the dough is baked, people of any religion are allowed to touch the matzo. The entire process of making the matzo is under Rabbinic supervision. In particular, they time the matzo making process, checking to see it does not exceed eighteen minutes. Otherwise, the batch would be considered not kosher for Passover and discarded.
Stop 101: Congregation Chasam Sopher
8 Clinton Street
Second oldest synagogue structure in NYC
Thanks to President Eugene Weiser for showing me around the synagogue.
It was formed in 1892 by the merger of two congregations of immigrants from Poland. It occupies an historic Romanesque Revival synagogue building built in 1853 by Congregation Rodeph Sholom. It is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States, the second-oldest synagogue building in New York, and the oldest still in use in the state.
Renovation of the upstairs, completed in 2006, included conservation of the Torah ark, the installation of new stained-glass windows, and stripping the interior of paint to expose the original wood. The outside was also landscaped, creating a garden for the neighborhood.
The synagogue was built by Reform Congregation Ansche Chesed (People of Kindness), a congregation of primarily German Jews that was the third Jewish congregation in New York City. The building was designed by Eisenach/Germany-born architect Alexander Saeltzer. It was sold to Congregation Shaari Rachmim (Gates of Mercy) in 1873, to The First Hungarian Congregation Ohab Zedek (To Love Righteousness) in 1886, and to congregation Sheveth Achim Anshe Slonim in 1921, which used it until 1974. That year, the synagogue was abandoned, and it was later vandalized.
Spanish sculptor and painter Angel Orensanz purchased the property in 1986. He restored it, and converted it into an art gallery and performance space known as the Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts. The building was designated a historic landmark by New York City the following year. It has subsequently become home to the Shul of New York, a liberal Reform synagogue.
Congregation Achsche Chesed purchased the three lots upon which the synagogue was built, at 172 Norfolk Street (between Stanton Street and East Houston Street), on the Lower East Side of New York City, New York, in April 1849, for $10,500 (today $298,000). The lots had originally been part of Peter Stuyvesant‘s estate.
The building opened in 1849 as Anshe Chesed Synagogue, and was also known as the Norfolk Street Congregation. The synagogue was formally opened and consecrated on May 16, 1850, with New York City’s mayor and a number of members of the New York City Common Council and Christian clergy among the invited guests. It was the largest synagogue in the United States, and could hold up to 1,500 worshipers (with men on the main floor, and women in the gallery). It was the first German-Jewish synagogue in New York, and the second Reform synagogue after Congregation Emanu-El (1845).
Its members were traditional in their beliefs, and the congregation was “moderately traditionalist.” Services were conducted primarily in German. It diverged from Orthodoxtradition in that its hazzan and the pulpit faced the congregation (rather than being located in the center of the congregation), and the services were accompanied by musical instruments, including an organ that was added in 1869 at the same time as family pews were introduced, with men and women sitting together. A choir of men and women was also introduced. In the 1850s, it had the largest membership of any synagogue in the United States. Munich-born Dr. Max Lilienthal was the first rabbi at the new synagogue. Dr. Jonah Bondy became the synagogue’s rabbi in 1858.
In 1874, Congregation Ansche Chesed merged with Congregation Adas Jeshurun and re-located uptown to Lexington Avenue and East 63rd Street, and formed Congregation Beth El. That congregation subsequently merged into Congregation Emanu-El, in 1927. The synagogue was later used by Eastern European Orthodox Jewish congregations, which in keeping with Orthodox practice removed the organ, turned the pulpit so that it faced East, and conducted the services in Hebrew. It was first sold to Congregation Shaari Rachmim (Gates of Mercy) in 1873, which used it until 1886. Then, as Shaari Rachim moved to New York City’s Upper West Side, the synagogue was sold to The First HungarianCongregation Ohab Zedek (To Love Righteousness) in 1886, which used it as its home until 1921. A congregation named Sheveth Achim Anshe Slonim (People of Slonim, Belarus; founded in 1888), worshiped there from 1921 until 1974, and called it Anshe Slonim Synagogue. By 1974, membership in the synagogue had dwindled as the neighborhood changed and the Slonim community had dispersed. The synagogue was abandoned, and was being vandalized.
Jewish Spanish sculptor and painter Angel Orensanz purchased the property in 1986. He restored it, and converted it into an art gallery and performance space, the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts. The building was designated an historic landmark by New York City in 1987.
The Shul of New York, a liberal Reform synagogue organized in 1997 that is led by Rabbi Burt Siegel and whose services are accompanied by the Shul Band, originally held its Sabbath services at the synagogue, and now holds its Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services there. It is the oldest standing synagogue in New York City.
The building is 70 feet (21 m) wide, and 90 feet (27 m) deep. It has a main space of 7,000 square feet (and an assembly room of 4,000 square feet), and 50-foot (15 m) high cathedral blue ceilings. It has pointed arch tall lancet windows (originally surrounded by trefoiltracery and moldings) and doorways (surrounded by parts of moldings showing engaged columns and foliate capitals). Its larger center door is crowned by triangular molding that is almost as high as the second floor, which contains a Magen David with thin pinnacles on either side. It also has interior wooden vaults, and several tiers of balconies (one of the top ones of which contains a permanent studio of Angel Orensanz). It has a tripartite front facade of red stone brick, covered with stucco, framed at its top by a pointed gable. Originally, the building was three stories high and topped by concave pyramidal roofs with finials atop them, but today it is two stories high and topped by buttressed, clearly differentiated side square towers on either side of the center section. The towers were an unusual feature at the time they were built, containing articulated stairwells to the galleries. Its original ceiling was deep blue, with gold stars.
B’nai B’rith International (English pronunciation: /bəˌneɪˈbrɪθ/, from Hebrew: בני ברית b’né brit, “Children of the Covenant“), is the oldestJewish service organization in the world. B’nai B’rith states that it is committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and combating antisemitism and bigotry. Its mission is to unite persons of the Jewish faith and to enhance Jewish identity through strengthening Jewish family life, to provide broad-based services for the benefit of senior citizens, and to facilitate advocacy and action on behalf of Jews throughout the world.
B’nai B’rith membership certificate, 1876
B’nai B’rith was founded in Aaron Sinsheimer’s café in New York City‘s Lower East Side on October 13, 1843, by 12 recent German Jewish immigrants led by Henry Jones. The new organization represented an attempt to organize Jews of the local community to confront what Isaac Rosenbourg, one of the founders, called “the deplorable condition of Jews in this, our newly adopted country”. The new group’s purpose, as described in its constitution, called for the traditional functions performed by Jewish societies in Europe: “Visiting and attending the sick” and “protecting and assisting the widow and the orphan.” Its founders had hoped that it soon would encompass all Jews in the United States, but this did not happen, since other Jewish organizations also were forming around the same time.
With their Yiddish heritage, the founders originally named the organization Söhne des Bundes (Sons of the Covenant) to reflect their goal of a fraternal order that could provide comfort to the entire spectrum of Jewish Americans. Although early meetings were conducted in Yiddish, after a short time English emerged as the language of choice and the name was changed to B’nai B’rith. In the late 20th century, the translation was changed to the more contemporary and inclusive Children of the Covenant.
Despite its fraternal and local beginnings, B’nai B’rith spoke out for Jewish rights early in its history and used its growing national chain of lodges as a way to exercise political influence on behalf of world Jewry. In 1851, for example, it circulated petitions urging Secretary of StateDaniel Webster to demand the end of Jewish disabilities in Switzerland, during on-going trade negotiations. Into the 1920s the B’nai B’rith continued in its political work by joining in Jewish delegations and lobbying efforts through which American Jews sought to influence public policy, both domestic and foreign. B’nai B’rith also played a crucial role in transnational Jewish politics. The later spread of the organization around the world made it a nerve center of intra-Jewish communication and mutual endeavor.
Stop 82: Seward Park High School
350 Grand Street
Seward Park Campus (2013)
Built in 1929 on the site of the old Ludlow Street Prison. The school was named in honour of Secretary of State, William Seward, responsible for buying Alaska from Russia. The purchase was known as “Sewards Folly”.
Founded in 1852 by Rabbi Abraham Ash as Beth Hamedrash, the congregation split in 1859, with the rabbi and most of the members renaming their congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagodol. The congregation’s president and a small number of the members eventually formed the nucleus of Kahal Adath Jeshurun, also known as the Eldridge Street Synagogue. Rabbi Jacob Joseph, the first and onlyChief Rabbi of New York City, led the congregation from 1888 to 1902. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, one of the few European Jewish legal decisors to survive the Holocaust, led the congregation from 1952 to 2003.
The congregation’s building, a Gothic Revival structure built in 1850 as the Norfolk Street Baptist Church and purchased in 1885, was one of the largest synagogues on the Lower East Side. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. In the late 20th century the congregation dwindled and was unable to maintain the building, which had been damaged by storms. Despite their obtaining funding and grants, the structure was critically endangered.
The synagogue was closed in 2007. The congregation, reduced to around 20 regularly attending members, was sharing facilities with a congregation on Henry Street. The Lower East Side Conservancy was trying to raise an estimated $4.5 million for repairs of the building, with the intent of converting it to an educational center. In December 2012, it was reported that the leadership of the synagogue under Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum filed a “hardship application” with the Landmarks Preservation Commission seeking permission to demolish the building to make way for a new residential development.
Norfolk Street building
The congregation’s building at 60–64 Norfolk Street, between Grand Street and Broome Street on the Lower East Side, had originally been the Norfolk Street Baptist Church. Founded in 1841 when the Stanton Street Baptist Church congregation split, the members had first worshiped in an existing church building at Norfolk and Broome. In 1848 they officially incorporated and began construction of a new building, which was dedicated in January 1850.
Beth Hamedrash Hagodol at the beginning of the 20th century
Jacob Joseph (1840–July 28, 1902) served as chief rabbi of New York City’s Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, a federation of Eastern European Jewish synagogues. Born in Krozhe, a province of Kovno, he studied in the Nevyozer Kloiz under Rabbi Yisrael Salanter and in the Volozhin yeshiva under the Netziv. In Volozhin, he was known as “Rav Yaakov Charif” (Rabbi Jacob Sharp) because of his sharp mind.
He became successively rabbi of Vilon in 1868, Yurburg in 1870, Zhagory and then Kovno. His fame as a preacher spread, so that in 1883 the community of Vilna selected him as itsmaggid.
The Rabbi Jacob Joseph School is named after him, and a playground is named after and honors the memory of a great-grandson of Rabbi Jacob Joseph who carried his name.
The Jewish community of New York wanted to be united under a common religious authority, and although the Reform and Liberal factions ridiculed the idea, the mainly RussianOrthodoxAshkenazi community sent a circular offering the post throughout Eastern Europe.
Rabbi Jacob Joseph was among those offered the prestigious position. He hesitated in coming to America, aware that there were fewer religious Jews. Nevertheless, in 1888 he accepted the challenge in order to support his family, and also because he faced severe debt in Russia. The Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations—comprising 18 congregations and headed by Beth Hamedrash Hagadol—was thrilled when he accepted the position.
They attempted to create one central rabbinic authority in America to maintain order in the field of Kashrus and expand Jewish education programs. Their idea ultimately failed. Although Joseph certainly possessed the credentials needed, he was confronted with many problems, primarily diverse groups of Jews, which also included anti-religious factions and Communists.
His tenure was marked by the divisiveness of New York Jewry, and the polemic of the kosher slaughterhouses of the city. Vehemently anti-religious Yiddish newspapers such as Die Wahrheit (English: “The Truth”) unleashed their wrath, spreading false and malicious rumours about the chief rabbi’s personal life.
Eventually, after six years, the Association stopped paying his salary. The butchers then paid him until 1895.
Although Joseph fought a losing battle in the kosher meat and poultry industry, he managed to achieve some notable accomplishments, including the hiring of qualified shochtim, introducing irremovable seals (“plumba”) to identify kosher birds, and setting up Mashgichim to oversee slaughter houses. He also took an active role in establishing the Etz Chaim Yeshiva—the first yeshiva on the Lower East Side, which was founded in 1886. (It was the forerunner of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary).
Le’Beis Yaakov (Vilna, 1888), a collection of homilies and novellæ.
In 1897, Joseph suffered a stroke, which incapacitated him for the rest of his life. He died at age 62 and his funeral was one of the largest in New York, attended by more than 50,000 Jews. Unfortunately, it was partly marred by a public disturbance in which a number of people were injured. Employees of R. Hoe & Company, manufacturer of printing presses, threw water, paper, wood, and iron from the upper floors of the factory at 504 Grand Street. 200 policemen responded to the call, hitting and pushing the mourners. Some of Hoe’s employees, who had been harassing local Jews for some time, joined the police in the riot and beat mourners.
After Joseph’s death, a succession dispute diluted the office of Chief Rabbi and the title was effectively worthless.
Ironically, after Joseph’s death many congregations began to give him the honor which they had withheld during his life. Aside from the tens of thousands that came to see him lying on his death bed, forty rabbis gathered in the cemetery for the funeral. Each one vied with his colleague to give him a better eulogy.
The congregations also competed with each other, each one desiring to bury him in its own cemetery. Congregation Adath Israel on Elridge Street promised to give his widow $1,000 on the spot and $10 a week all the rest of her life. Congregation Beis HaMidrash HaGadol was permitted to bury him in their plot at the Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. This became a good business venture, for the plots near the grave of the chief rabbi became extremely valuable. The widow received the amount promised for several years, and then they stopped sending her the money.
Jacob Joseph Playground
A playground on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, bounded by Henry and Rutgers Streets, is named in memory of Captain Jacob Joseph (1920–1942), great-grandson of Rabbi Jacob Joseph. Captain Joseph was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, and scion of a family devoted to religious education and civic affairs.
Born and raised in New York, Joseph left Columbia University as a junior in 1938 to enlist in the Marines. Joseph died in action at Guadalcanal on October 22, 1942. Five years later, a local law named this playground in his honor. The dedication ceremony was attended by Mayor William O’Dwyer, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, Councilman Stanley Isaacs, and Captain Joseph’s father Lazarus Joseph – a Democratic Party leader who was a six time State Senator and New York City’s Comptroller at the time.
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation also unveiled a bronze commemorative plaque on the flagstaff, which celebrates the life and bravery of Captain Joseph. This playground was built in part to meet the needs of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, located at the time on Henry St. The playground serves as a lasting memorial to a World War II hero, as well as to notable members of the Joseph family who have contributed to the surrounding neighborhood and to the larger New York City community.
Stop 84: Church of Saint Mary
440 Grand Street
Oldest RC structure in New York City.
Stop 85: Henry Street Settlement Playhouse
466 Grand Street
Henry Street Settlement
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Henry Street Settlement
and Neighborhood Playhouse
The Henry Street Settlement is a not-for-profit social service agency in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City that provides social services, arts programs and health care services to New Yorkers of all ages. It was founded in 1893 by Progressive reformer and nurse Lillian Wald.
The Settlement serves about 50,000 people each year. Clients include low-income individuals and families, survivors of domestic violence, youngsters ages 2 through 21, individuals with mental and physical health challenges, senior citizens, and arts and culture enthusiasts who attend performances, classes and exhibitions at Henry Street’s Abrons Arts Center.
The Settlement’s administrative offices are still located in its original (c. 1832) federal row houses at 263, 265 and 267 Henry Streetin Manhattan. Services are offered at 17 program sites throughout the area, many of them located in buildings operated by the New York City Housing Authority.
Reading the Book of Esther on Purim 2007 at Bialystoker
The Bialystoker Synagogue at 7-11 Bialystoker Place, formerly Willett Street, between Grand and Broome Streets in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City is an OrthodoxJewishsynagogue. The building was constructed in 1826 as theWillett Street Methodist Episcopal Church; the synagogue purchased the building in 1905.
The synagogue was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966. It is one of only four early-19th century fieldstone religious buildings surviving from the late Federal period in Lower Manhattan, and is the oldest building used as a synagogue in New York City.
The Bialystoker Synagogue was first organized in 1865 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side as the Chevra Anshei Chesed of Bialystok, founded by a group of Jews who came from town of Białystok in Poland. The congregation was begun in a building on Hester Street, it later moved to Orchard Street, and ultimately to its present location 7-11 Bialystoker Place on the Lower East Side.
In order to accommodate the influx of new immigrants from that area of Poland, in 1905 the congregation merged with congregation Adas Yeshurun, also from Bialystok, and formed the Beit Ha-Knesset Anshei Bialystok (The Bialystoker Synagogue). The newly formed congregation then purchased (and moved into) the Willett Street Methodist Episcopal Church at 7 Willet Street, which was later renamed Bialystoker Place. During the Great Depression a decision was made to beautify the main sanctuary, to provide a sense of hope and inspiration to the community.
The fieldstone Methodist Episcopal Church building was built in 1826 with a simple pedimented roof and round arched windows. The building is made of Manhattan schist from a quarry on nearby Pitt Street. The exterior is marked by three windows over three doors framed with round arches, a low flight of brownstone steps, a low pitched pediment roof with a lunette window and a wooden cornice.
The elaborate Torah Ark is believed to have been carved in Bialystok and shipped to New York.
As the synagogue is home to an Orthodox Jewish congregation, a balcony section was constructed to accommodate female congregants. In the corner of the women’s gallery a small hidden door in the wall that leads to a ladder going up to an attic, lit by two windows was constructed. When it was first opened, the building was a rest stop for the Underground Railroad movement; runaway slaves found sanctuary in this attic.
When the air conditioning was updated in the 1990s, an issue arose in the construction of rooftop units because of the building’s historical landmark status. Because of these concerns, the cooling units were installed on the side of the building.
In 1988, the congregation restored the interior to its original splendor, and the former Hebrew school building that is attached, but had become dilapidated, was renovated and reopened as The Daniel Potkorony Building. The magnificent stained glass windows were recently completely recreated and renewed.
The building at 97 Orchard Street was contracted by Prussian-born immigrant Lukas Glockner in 1863 and was modified several times to conform with the city’s developing housing laws. When first constructed, it contained 22 apartments and a basement level saloon. Over time, four stoop-level and two basement apartments were converted into commercial retail space, leaving 16 apartments in the building. Modifications over the years included the installation of indoor plumbing (cold running water, two toilets per floor), an air shaft, and gas followed by electricity. In 1935, rather than continue to modify the building, the landlord evicted the residents, boarded the upper windows, and sealed the upper floors, leaving only the stoop-level and basement storefronts open for business. No further changes were made until the Lower East Side Tenement Museum became involved with the building in 1988. As such, the building stands as a kind of time capsule, reflecting 19th and early 20th century living conditions and the changing notions of what constitutes acceptable housing.
In spite of the restoration, some parts of the upper floors are unstable and remain closed.
The Tenement Museum attracted some negative press related to its employees seeking union membership as well as for its planned acquisition of the building at 99 Orchard Street through eminent domain.
Exhibits, collections, and programs
The museum’s exhibits include restored apartments that depict the lives of immigrants who lived at 97 Orchard Street between 1869 and 1935. The museum’s public tours place these lives in the broader context of American history. The museum also has an extensive collection of historical archives and provides a variety of educational programs. The tenement is open for public tours daily. Neighborhood walking tours are also offered.
Delancey Street Subway Station nearby
Delancey Street – Essex Street (New York City Subway)
Zskip-stop train during rush hours in the peak direction
In addition to the two track levels—the BMT platforms are on the upper level and the IND platforms are on the lower—an intermediate mezzanine built for the IND platforms provides the passenger connection between the two lines. As the BMT and the IND were originally separate systems, the transfer passageway was not within fare control until July 1, 1948. The full-time entrance is on the north side of Delancey Street, on either side of Essex Street.