Museum at Eldridge Street

Museum at Eldridge Street Located in the 1887 National Historic Landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Museum explores immigration, architecture and restoration, and Jewish ritual.

Open Sun-Thurs, 10-5, Fri 10-3. The Museum at Eldridge Street is housed in the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, a magnificent National Historic Landmark that has been meticulously restored. Exhibits, tours, cultural events and educational programs tell the story of Jewish immigrant life at the turn of the last century, explore architecture and historic preservation, inspire reflection on cultural continuity, and foster collaboration and exchange between people of all faiths, heritages and interests.

Operating as usual

Where are these people? A ritzy rooftop bar and restaurant? What are they doing at that table? (It almost looks like the...
09/03/2020

Where are these people? A ritzy rooftop bar and restaurant? What are they doing at that table? (It almost looks like they're using a Ouija board...)

Put on your thinking caps! Use the people, setting, and other clues to make some guesses about what's happening here. When you've guesses all you can guess, head to eldridgestreet.org/look-closely to learn what this historic photo can tell us about life 100 years ago.

It's #tourtuesday! Every week we'll take you on a virtual tour and explore something you'd normally see on a guided tour...
09/01/2020

It's #tourtuesday! Every week we'll take you on a virtual tour and explore something you'd normally see on a guided tour at the Museum.

Today we're headed upstairs to the women's balcony. It's a brilliantly ornate space, completely restored to 19th-century grandeur. But something catches your eye - on the wall of the left side of the balcony is a piece of wall that still looks damaged. Your docent already explained to you that this sanctuary went through a period of severe deterioration. But you also learned that it's been fully restored for over ten years. So that section certainly isn't a work in progress.⁠

Actually, it's left that way on purpose! Standing in front of this unrestored section of plaster, you see firsthand just how damaged so much of the walls looked before restoration. Paint peeled, plaster cracked, and lath was exposed across the vast sanctuary. ⁠

And not only does this exposed section show you the extent of the decay here, but you can see right inside the building! You docent would encourage you to peer inside. Past the strips of wood lath, you see the supporting brickwork. You can even see strands of horse hair, which was a common material for insulation in the 1800s. Fun fact - we didn't use horse hair when we re-insulated the building in the 21st century. Recycled blue jeans are now behind the walls!⁠

Urban Explorer guides from Center for Architecture are ingeniously set up so that you don't have to be INSIDE a landmark...
08/31/2020

Urban Explorer guides from Center for Architecture are ingeniously set up so that you don't have to be INSIDE a landmark like Eldridge Street to complete the fun activities. They work just as well if you take a walk to gaze at the facade or print it out and do the activities from your living room.

You can find the booklet for our building here, plus lots of other explorer guides for architectural marvels around the city. These activities were designed for kids, but we wouldn't be surprised if architecture fans of all ages find something to enjoy inside!

https://www.centerforarchitecture.org/k-12/nyc-urban-explorer-guides/

Grocery shopping in the children's classic All-of-a-Kind Family means that Mama and the girls make a pilgrimage to the p...
08/28/2020

Grocery shopping in the children's classic All-of-a-Kind Family means that Mama and the girls make a pilgrimage to the pushcarts, like this one on Orchard Street from the fantastic Museum of the City of New York photo collection.

These bustling open air markets were a place to buy everything from pickles to potatoes. But for the sisters in the book, Charlotte and Gertie, the market was a place to satisfy their taste for treats. Buying candied grapes and tangerines was a special occasion!

Want to learn more about the real-life places and behind-the-scenes details that have made this book so captivating for generations of readers? Don't miss our August 31 virtual program, Secrets of All-of-a-Kind Family. Get your tickets today: https://www.eldridgestreet.org/event/secrets-of-all-of-a-kind-family/.

Hey, Amateur Historians! It's Thursday - which means we've got another historic photo for you to examine. Looking at sce...
08/27/2020

Hey, Amateur Historians! It's Thursday - which means we've got another historic photo for you to examine. Looking at scenes like this can tell us a lot about what life was like 100 years ago.

So what's happening in this Lower East Side photo? Does the scene look foreign to you? Or familiar?

Once you think you've got a sense for what's happening, head over to eldridgestreet.org/look-closely to learn more.

Have you ever had the chance to visit Dohany Synagogue? It's halfway around the world in Budapest, but it feels a little...
08/26/2020

Have you ever had the chance to visit Dohany Synagogue? It's halfway around the world in Budapest, but it feels a little like a sister shul to Eldridge Street. It's not our twin, but there are some stunning similarities in the architectural DNA. Today, in the latest installment of our blog series Sister Shuls, we take a virtual visit to the Hungary's Dohany Synagogue.

https://www.eldridgestreet.org/blog/dohany-street-synagogue/

Did you know there's a beautiful old restaurant sign hanging in the hallway at Museum at Eldridge Street? It once belong...
08/24/2020

Did you know there's a beautiful old restaurant sign hanging in the hallway at Museum at Eldridge Street? It once belonged on the front of the Garden Cafeteria, a beloved eatery on East Broadway that opened in 1941. It served Lower East Side scholars and vagabonds alike for 40 years. [The historic photo here is from Museum of the City of New York's photo archives.] When it closed, the incoming restaurant's signage covered up the historic metal sign. But the storefront changed hands once again in 2005, and the Garden Cafeteria letters were uncovered. The Museum acted quickly to save it from the landfill - and today it hangs proudly on our walls. Much like the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Garden Cafe was a place for neighborhood immigrants to meet, create community and trade ideas. It was a fixture of the area for decades.⁠

Today the sign bears signs of its long life, including holes where long-gone neon tubes would have illuminated the letters at night. Those tubes are out of commission now, but the sign is still striking in its new home. ⁠

Learn more about this sign and the legendary Garden Cafeteria on our blog! https://www.eldridgestreet.org/blog/exhuming-the-signage-of-the-long-lost-garden-cafeteria-on-east-broadway/

Hey, Amateur Historians!One of the most important ways we can try to better understand a historical period is to examine...
08/20/2020

Hey, Amateur Historians!

One of the most important ways we can try to better understand a historical period is to examine primary documents and sources from that time. Photographs are some of the best - they provide visual evidence that can expand your historical understanding - and help you really
picture what life was like back then.

And sometimes, like in this photo, they're relevant to modern life, too. So, your job? Put on your historian glasses! What do you see? What do you think it shows you about the people in the picture, the place where they are, and the time period? What clues in the picture tell you something important? And what does that help you understand about the world today?

Once you've made some guesses, head to eldridgestreet.org/look-closely to learn what's really happening here.

We're so glad that the Hester Street Fair is officially back for real-life shopping, eating, & fun! The street market is...
08/19/2020
The Hester Street Fair is back! - Museum at Eldridge Street

We're so glad that the Hester Street Fair is officially back for real-life shopping, eating, & fun! The street market is a neighborhood institution with a long history dating way back to when pushcarts full of pickles roamed the Lower East Side streets.

What did you do this weekend? As the months of the pandemic move along, we have options! It is becoming a little easier to venture outside of our apartments and our neighborhoods, and I am excited to see local favorites around the city beginning to reopen and revive. From my favorite Chinatown resta...

Today for Tour Tuesday, we're swinging by the permanent exhibition space to talk about this metal sign - an advertisemen...
08/18/2020

Today for Tour Tuesday, we're swinging by the permanent exhibition space to talk about this metal sign - an advertisement for Singer sewing machines that's over 100 years old. Isaac Singer didn't invent the sewing machine, but he did revolutionize the industry. And he was the first to see the immense potential in selling personal-sized machines to homemakers.⁠

Curiously, this metal sign advertises the sewing machine in both Yiddish and Hebrew. At the bottom, the name "Singer" is written in Yiddish. But the top of the sign, which says “sewing machines,” is written in Hebrew – mechonos tefira. (Sewing machines in Yiddish is ney mashinen.)⁠

In America, you know you've "arrived" in society if businesses court you as a customer! So this sign is a testament to the growing visibility of Jewish families. Singer clearly recognized the enormous potential of winning the demographic's loyalty as consumers. And in fact many American businesses at this time, including Crisco and Maxwell House famously, began to cater to Eastern European Jewish households.

We love seeing the way artists interpret our landmark's decorative details in their own work! Illustrator & map maker @a...
08/17/2020

We love seeing the way artists interpret our landmark's decorative details in their own work! Illustrator & map maker @adriennemaps has been sharing these beauties on Instagram. Thanks for sharing, Adrienne! 💙💛

So dramatic! Thanks to Instagram user @albertoferraras_nyc for sharing this stunner with us. A good reminder that even t...
08/14/2020

So dramatic! Thanks to Instagram user @albertoferraras_nyc for sharing this stunner with us. A good reminder that even though our historic sanctuary is closed to the public, there are lots of photo opportunities in the great outdoors.

It's time for another Look Closely, where we use historic photos to make guesses & tell stories about what life was like...
08/13/2020

It's time for another Look Closely, where we use historic photos to make guesses & tell stories about what life was like 100 years ago on the Lower East Side. So, let's do this, amateur historians! What's happening here? What are these kids huddling around? Is it work or play?

Make some guesses and then head to eldridgestreet.org/look-closely to get the facts.

Just look at those colors! Since we've been stuck in one place for so many months, we've been doing a little internet to...
08/12/2020

Just look at those colors! Since we've been stuck in one place for so many months, we've been doing a little internet tourism. Along the way, we're coming across synagogues in other cities - other countries - that almost feel like sisters to our own landmark. These sites clearly share a lot of the same architectural DNA, but have their unique flare, too. ⁠

We're going to celebrate a few of these family tree branches in a Sister Shuls blog series. Today's trip - to the exuberant Jerusalem Synagogue in Prague.

Read all about it: https://www.eldridgestreet.org/blog/sister-shuls-jerusalem-synagogue-prague/

We're back with another Tuesday Tour, where we explore one of the many stories we usually share on guided tours at the M...
08/11/2020

We're back with another Tuesday Tour, where we explore one of the many stories we usually share on guided tours at the Museum. ⁠

This chandelier gets a lot of attention - not because of it's beauty but because it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the decor in the sanctuary. In fact, many tour-goers ask why it's hanging from the ceiling in a synagogue when it seems like it'd be more at home in a rich family's parlor. ⁠

That's exactly where we think it came from! The delicate chandelier is not original to 1887. And there are no records of the congregation having purchased the fixture. So most likely, the crystal piece was donated by a congregant when the women asked for a bit more light in their section. It likely dates to the early 1900s, a couple decades after the synagogue was first built.⁠

During restoration, we thought it was important to leave the chandelier hanging even though it's not authentic to opening day at the synagogue. We think it tells an important story about how the congregation used their space and how it changed over time.

All-of-a-Kind Family is that rare children's book that has just as many (or more?) adult admirers. So this one goes out ...
08/07/2020

All-of-a-Kind Family is that rare children's book that has just as many (or more?) adult admirers. So this one goes out to fans of all ages - read the book along with us this summer! Periodic book club emails will pair chapters with fun facts, DIY ideas, and things to think over.

Sign up here http://eepurl.com/gXTeIH and you'll get your first installment right away!

Hey, Amateur Historians! One of the most important ways we can try to better understand a historical period is to examin...
08/06/2020

Hey, Amateur Historians!

One of the most important ways we can try to better understand a historical period is to examine primary documents and sources - first-hand records - from that time. Newspaper articles, government reports and letters are all important primary sources, but photographs are among the most fun to examine. They provide visual evidence of a time period or event that can expand your historical understanding - and help you really picture what life was like back then.

Your job today? Put on your historian glasses and examine this photo. What do you see? What do you think it shows you about the people in the picture, the place where they are, and the time period? What clues in the picture tell you something important?

Once you've given this scene some thought, head over to eldridgestreet.org/look-closely to learn all about it.

“The window is really an extension of the wall quite literally – meaning the stars and sky move from painted representat...
08/05/2020

“The window is really an extension of the wall quite literally – meaning the stars and sky move from painted representation on to the window where they are activated by the light. To put it differently, we didn’t add any motifs to the synagogue, because there were already quite enough!"

When designing a new window for the Museum at Eldridge Street, architect Deborah Gans knew our sanctuary did not need any NEW decorative motifs. So she and her collaborator Kiki Smith worked with what had been there for a 100 years. And what they created was a marvelous mixing of old and new.

Read more from Deborah in today's blog post - https://www.eldridgestreet.org/blog/a-window-to-the-soul-architect-deborah-gans-on-her-enduring-contribution-to-eldridge-street/

It's Tour Tuesday - when we give you a little taste of a guided tour at the Museum at Eldridge Street.!⁠Just imagine tha...
08/04/2020

It's Tour Tuesday - when we give you a little taste of a guided tour at the Museum at Eldridge Street.!

Just imagine that you're standing in front of our building and wondering "How did the architects ever come up with the design for this building?" Well, the answer is that we don't know for sure. The architects' records are long gone and there is no remaining documentation of how the congregation shared their ambitions for the design of their new building. ⁠

But we do know that architects looked to Europe for their inspirations. German sites were among the first to use Moorish architecture, and it become a standard style for synagogues around the world. [The 3rd photo shows Leipzig Synagogue in Germany, one of the many sites in Germany that popularized the use of this architectural style for synagogues]. Our architects would have known that was a go-to style when designing their own building. And new immigrants like our congregants would have looked uptown, to the grand synagogues of German Jews. By 1887, German Jews had built several opulent synagogues in upper Manhattan. They typically had a higher social status than Eastern European immigrants - something our own congregants would have aspired to. So the Eldridge Street Synagogue would have wanted to emulate those uptown designs.⁠

Can you see how similar synagogues like the original Central Synagogue and Temple Emanu-El [Photos 1 and 2] are to our own facade? Big rose window, soaring rooftop finials, repeating archways - our facade is one big, eclectic, exuberant mashup of the buildings that came before.

How did young Lower East Siders 100 years ago find love while navigating stricter social rules, conservative parents, an...
08/03/2020

How did young Lower East Siders 100 years ago find love while navigating stricter social rules, conservative parents, and no dating apps?! Join Museum educator Rachel Serkin tomorrow at 2PM for Love & Courtship - a virtual tour that explores the dances and lunch counters where love bloomed way back then.

Get your tickets!: https://www.eldridgestreet.org/event/love-and-courtship-2/

When you examine historic photos, you can come to some pretty interesting conclusions about what life was like back when...
07/30/2020

When you examine historic photos, you can come to some pretty interesting conclusions about what life was like back when the photo was taken. So it's not surprising that historians love to use photos to help them piece together the way people lived a long time ago.

Let's do like the historians do and make some guesses as to what's happening here! Put on those thinking caps, get our your magnifying glass and give this scene a gander. What's happening? What might it tell us about life 100 years ago?

Once you've made some guesses, head to eldridgestreet.org/look-closely to find out the story.

When Notre Dame's spire came crashing to the ground in the devastating April 2019 fire, France vowed to replace it with ...
07/29/2020
Rebuild or reimagine? Preservation questions plague Notre Dame. - Museum at Eldridge Street

When Notre Dame's spire came crashing to the ground in the devastating April 2019 fire, France vowed to replace it with a modern homage. But recently, they changed their tune! Now the plan is to rebuild the historic spire exactly as it looked before.

Is that a preservation no-no? What does history have to say about rebuilding historic elements in that way? We're dishing about it today on the blog.

This post was written by Nancy Johnson, Curator and Archivist and Chelsea Dowell, Director of Public Engagement. Decisions, decisions…. Recent news reports have revealed the next chapter in the ongoing story of Notre Dame de Paris, the massive 12th-century cathedral at the very heart of the French...

Welcome to Tour Tuesdays, where we share a little tidbit of history you'd normal enjoy on a guided Eldridge Street tour!...
07/28/2020

Welcome to Tour Tuesdays, where we share a little tidbit of history you'd normal enjoy on a guided Eldridge Street tour!

Today we're stopping by this curious little wooden pot. It's built right into the bimah (the platform where the Torah is read during services), so it's clear that it was an important feature for our historic congregation. If we were at the Museum right now, crowded around the bimah, I'd ask you to lift the bowl's wooden lid and sniff. Go ahead! What would you smell? Tobacco. Because this little pot held snuff or chewing tobacco way back in the 19th century.

Why were our religious congregants worried about tobacco on the Sabbath? Most of them would have smoked cigarettes every day - but on the Sabbath it wasn't permitted to start a fire. No lighters! So the nicotine-hungry had to get creative, and get their fix in other ways. Apparently some of our congregants were devoted enough that they needed their tobacco available even in the midst of a Torah reading.

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Sad news to share...
Concert was inspiring and uplifting, perfect entertainment for a Covid 19 afternoon. I will watch for further events, as this was the first I’ve viewed. The announcer was delightful!
The concert was inspiring and uplifting! Perfect entertainment for a Covid 19 stay in afternoon! I will follow your page for more, and the announcer was delightful!
Had a wonderful time at your Mother's Day Show & Tell💜 I hosted one at Old Stone House of Brooklyn several years ago! I love hearing all the stories of stuff 😊
Had a marvelous visit to the Museum today. I had brought students from my university in Georgia to visit in 2018, and I came back with my wife Martha today. We had a wonderfully informative tour guide named Barbara, and we got to spend a lot of time after the tour soaking up the atmosphere from the women's gallery and then looking at all the displays on the first floor. We purchased a couple of books upon leaving, and the person behind the desk very kindly ran all the way to the end of the block to return the debit card I'd forgotten! I love this beautiful historic site and recommend it to everyone!
This challah cover, designed to be embroidered, says it was donated by "Isser Reznik's Sons, 77 1/2 Eldridge St. Distributers of Royal Muslin." Looking for info about it, especially when it was created.
Probably one of the most beautiful and most interesting buildings in NYC. In the Lower East Side and worth seeing... whether or not you are Jewish.
Hello. Join me, fellow Jews and allies. I will be attending today's 2pm Youth-led Vigil outside at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn. Their Congregation Beit Elohim FB page says it will include Kaddish. OCT 28 Youth Vigil for Pittsburgh Public · Hosted by Rachel Landis and Sonia Chajet Wides Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 2 PM EDT Grand Army Plaza 1 Grand Army Plz, Brooklyn, New York 11238
Stunning experience visiting today.
this reminds me of the synagogue
We visited recently your fantastic museum, we liked the way you are telling stories, starting with the people that had the vision to build a synagogue. We found many interesting stories for us. https://www.facebook.com/pg/Jewsineastprussia/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1870983542925603
I grew up on Eldridge Street and my mom cleaned this and other sanctuary's back in the 60's and early 70's.