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Manhattan Tours

Jewish Heritage of the Lower East Side : Immigrants & Noshes

The first Jewish settlers to America came to New Amsterdam from Recife Brazil  in 1654. They were  Sephardic (“Spanish”) Jews who  established America’s first congregation, Shearith Israel.  It is still known as the Spanish and Portugese Synagogue. The next wave were German and Central European Jews who arrived in the mid 19th century. This community was mostly urban, educated Reform Jews and assimilated easily into the elite of NY society and become known as “Our Crowd”. They were followed, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s  by millions of Eastern European Ashkenazi  Jews from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Rumania who flooded the Lower East Side to make it the largest Jewish community in America.

NYC Highlights Lower East Side


LUNY! guides Marcus and Gideon
about to chow down on some pastrami!


Jews rose to prominence in varied ways. Some, like the anarchist Emma Goldman and the socialist Abraham Cahan were political radicals, and some, like the Strauss and Guggenheim families, were reformers and philanthropists eager to assimilate their fellow Eastern European Jews into American society.  Others, like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lanksy, were gangsters. Siegel and Lansky first met over a hot dice game on Rivington Street. Years later, they established the crime syndicate that turned bootleg liquor into a multi-million dollar enterprise and made later Las Vegas the gambling empire of America.

So nu? What Jewish tour would be complete without a nosh? From bagels and bialys to pastrami and pickles, keeping kosher in this strange new land wasn’t always easy, but these Jewish immigrants worked hard to pass their culinary culture onto future generations.

Sites include: Eldridge Street Synagogue/Museum (additional fees for entry, otherwise, we can discuss its history from the exterior,) First Shearith Israel Cemetery (oldest existing jewish cemetery in NYC,) Jewish Daily Forward Building, Jarmolowsky’s Bank, Loews Canal Street Theater, Beth Medrash Hagadol, East Broadway (Mikvahs and other Jewish-service buildings), Stanton Street Shul/First Warsaw Synagogue, Last NYC Public Baths, Orchard Street/Tenement Buildings/Retail shops, Former Streits Matzoh Factory, Kehilah Kedoshah Synagogue, Site of the First Romanian Synagogue (Cantor’s Carnegie Hall), Economy Candy, Landmark Sunshine Movie theater (formerly Yiddish theater,) Tenement Museum, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Strauss Square, Essex Street Market. Educational AllianceThe Pickle Guys, Katz’ Deli, Russ & Daughters Appetizing and more.

Noshing is $35 per person and depends on the day’s menu. Call Mark to order your noshes!

Some shops may be closed Friday to Saturday for Shabbat.

We can  include a tour of the adjacent neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little Italy to create a panopy of ethnic and immigrant experiences, culture and foods.