Heritage Walk in New York – Upper West Side

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

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Upper West Side and Central Park as seen from the Rockefeller Center Observatory. In the distance is the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge.

The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of ManhattanNew 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.[1]

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.[2]

The neighborhood is also referred to for short as just the “UWS”.[3]


Stop 131: Richard Tucker Memorial Park

Broadway & 66th Street

Richard Tucker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tucker speaks with Mario Lanza (right), who was a great fan of Tucker’s,[1] in 1958 after Tucker’s Covent Garden debut. That was the only time that they met.[2]

Richard Tucker (August 28, 1913 – January 8, 1975) was an American operatic tenor

Early life

Tucker was born Rivn (Rubin) Ticker in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Bessarabian Jewish parents, who immigrated to the US in 1911.[3][4][5][6] 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 CompanyEdward 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.[7]

As the Duke in Rigoletto, 1971.

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.”[13]

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.


Richard Tucker monument in Lincoln 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 FlemingDeborah 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.

Audio examples



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

129 West 67th Street

Merkin Concert Hall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Merkin Concert Hall

Merkin Concert Hall is a 449-seat concert hall in ManhattanNew 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 [1] 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).[2]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

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Congregation Shearith Israel at Central Park West

The synagogue’s third cemetery (1829–1851) is on West 21st Street near the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue)

Congregation Shearith Israel, often called The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, is the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. It was established in 1654.[1]

The Orthodox synagogue is located on Central Park West at 70th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The congregation’s current Neoclassical building was occupied in 1897.[2]

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[3] 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)[4] 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.

Landmark plaques

The outside

The lobby

The Little Synagogue

The Main Synagogue

With  Rabbi Shalom Morris and Oscar Israelowitz

Portuguese 1

Portuguese copy


West Side Institutional Synagogue

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West Side

The outside



Stop 137: Oldest Ashkenazi Congregation

257 West 88th Street

Congregation B’nai Jeshurun

B’nai Jeshurun (Manhattan)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue and Community House
Congregation B’Nai, March 2009
Location 257 W. 88th St. and 270 W. 89th St., New York, New York
Coordinates 40°47′24″N73°58′35″WCoordinates40°47′24″N 73°58′35″W
Area 0.9 acres (0.36 ha)
Built 1917
Architect Schneider,Walter S.; Et al.
Architectural style Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements, Semitic Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 89000474[1]
Added to NRHP June 2, 1989

Front door

B’nai Jeshurun is a synagogue in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City.


Founded in 1825, Bnai Jeshurun was the second synagogue founded in New York and the third-oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the United States.

The synagogue was founded by a coalition of young members of congregation Shearith Israel and immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from the German and Polish lands. It was the stated intention to follow the “German and Polish minhag (rite).”[2] The order of prayers followed that of the Ashkenazi Great Synagogue of London and sought the guidance of the British chief Rabbi Solomon Hirschellon matters of ritual. The congregation dedicated its first building on Elm Street in Manhattan in 1827.

The first rabbi, Samuel Isaacs, was appointed in 1839. By 1850, the congregation had grown large enough to make it necessary to build a new synagogue on Green Street.

In 1865, the congregation moved yet again, to a new building on 34th Street, the parcel later part of the site of the flagship Macy’s store. Driven by the rapid expansion of the city, they moved yet again in 1885 to Madison Avenue at 65th Street. That building was designed byRafael Guastavino and Schwarzmann & Buchman.

The present building, located at 257 West 88th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue was dedicated in 1917. It was designed byHenry B. Herts, a congregant and celebrated theater architect, with Walter S. Schneider.[3] In addition to its place on the National Register of Historic Places, the synagogue was included in the New York City Riverside Drive-West End Historic District created in 1990. Themuqarna-studded ceiling was redesigned following its collapse during renovations in the early 1990s and was replaced with a future-invoking space frame back-lit to simulate a nighttime sky [2].

Breakaway congregations

B’nai Jeshurun’s original founders broke from the city’s only synagogue, Shearith Israel, in 1825, in order to create an Ashkenazi congregation. Subsequently, B’nai Jeshurun members broke away to form new shuls several times.

In 1828, at a time of rapid growth in the New York Jewish community, a group left B’nai Jeshurun to found Ansche Chesed.[4]

In 1845, Temple Shaaray Tefila was founded by 50 primarily English and Dutch Jews who had been members of B’nai Jeshurun.[5][6]


B’nai Jeshurun took a leading role in founding the Board of Directors of American Israelites in 1859. When the Board of Delegates merged with the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1878 the congregation went along, but in 1884 it left the Reform Movement. Two years later, it also supported the founding of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in 1886, a school formed to support Orthodoxy in combating the Reform movement.

In 1889, the congregation published its own edition of the prayer book.

When Solomon Schechter used JTS to create a more conservative set of reforms to traditional Judaism, B’nai Jeshurun joined his United Synagogue of America, now the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

In the 1990s the congregation left the Conservative movement and is now independent.


A spiritual and demographic renaissance began in 1985, with the arrival of Rabbi Marshall Meyer.

Notable clergy



Stop 138: Jewish Theological Seminary

3080 Broadway

Jewish Theological Seminary of America

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
JTSA building at 3080 Broadway in Manhattan

JTSA building at 3080 Broadway in Manhattan
Motto והסנה איננו אכל
Motto in English And the bush was not consumed – Exodus 3:2
Established 1886
Type Private
Religious affiliation Conservative Judaism
Chancellor Arnold Eisen
Provost Alan Cooper
Vice-Chancellor Marilyn Kohn
Location New York CityNew YorkUnited States
40°48′43″N 73°57′37″WCoordinates40°48′43″N 73°57′37″W
Campus Urban
Facebook JTS on Facebook
Website www.jtsa.edu

The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS or JTSA) is located in New York. It is one of the academic and spiritual centers ofConservative Judaism, and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies.

JTS operates five schools: Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies (which is affiliated with Columbia University and offers joint/double bachelors degree programs with both Columbia and Barnard College); The Graduate School; the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education; the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music; and The Rabbinical School. It also operates a number of research and training institutes.


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One Reply to “Heritage Walk in New York – Upper West Side”

  1. Thanks Eli. Richard Tucker story reminded me of Ivans rich voice at your Schul. Love the front of the Bnai Snyagogue. What a labour of love?


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