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A young Jewish boy in New York City’s Lower East Side, 1911 (Library of Congress)
Spend a fascinating day in New York City as you immerse yourself in the lives of immigrant families at the Tenement Museum and get an insightful overview of heritage, culture, and art at the Center for Jewish History, a Smithsonian affiliate organization. Museum education consultant Sheila Pinsker serves as the study tour leader.
The Lower East Side was one of the city’s magnets for immigrants of many ethnicities, particularly Jewish newcomers. Orchard Street was one of its most important thoroughfares, filled with small businesses, bustling street markets, and tenement houses. The five-story brick building at 97 Orchard Street was home to an estimated 7,000 people from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 1935. It is now the Tenement Museum, where restored apartments reflect the daily lives of immigrants who once lived there, including Irish, Italian Catholic, and Jewish families. The museum’s guided tours place their experiences in the broader content of American history, and participants (divided into two groups) follow the stories covered in the “Sweatshop Workers” or “Hard Times” themed tour.
The Center for Jewish History encompasses five educational, cultural, and historical institutions that share a common vision to preserve and present the richness of Jewish heritage: the American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Their collections range from the early modern era in Europe and pre-colonial America to present-day materials from around the globe. Tour participants view an orientation film about the center and visit the collection management and conservation wing, the reading room, and the genealogy institute.
Participants also see several exhibitions, including Five Hundred Years of Treasures from Oxford at the Yeshiva University Museum; Zionismus: The German Roots of Zionism at the Leo Baeck Institute: an exhibit on Jewish children in America and Eastern Europe from the early 1900s through WWII at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research; and Our History Is Your History: Treasures from the American Jewish Historical Society, spotlighting a diverse cross-section of archival materials.
A box lunch is served en route; enjoy an early dinner at Katz’s Deli before the return trip.
Fringe stop at about 7:25 a.m.
The tour includes steep stairs.
Departs Mayflower Hotel, DeSales St side
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Fringe: I-495, Exit 27 Carpool lot