Apr 26, 2004 — The Lower East Side, one of the most famous neighborhoods of New York City, home to thousands of early immigrants, many of whom were Eastern European Jews who determined the shape of the city during much of the 20th Century.
As part of YU’s ongoing commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America, Jeffrey S. Gurock, PhD, Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History, took his students on a tour of the Lower East Side, where YU began as a small yeshiva in 1886. Prof. Gurock’s walking tour of the old Jewish quarter stepped off from Straus Square on East Broadway.
The students, from Bernard Revel Graduate School, Stern College for Women, and Yeshiva College, walked down what Prof. Gurock calls the “Avenue of Americanization,” otherwise known as East Broadway. He described the adjustment difficulties of immigrants and their children faced in this new world of America.
The tour also visited the Beth ha-Medrash ha-Gadol of Norfolk Street, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, and other major Jewish houses of worship from the immigrant period while hearing Prof. Gurock describe the ways Jews tried to mediate religiously between two conflicting cultures. Prof. Gurock calls his tour a “walking” lecture and just one of the many ways in which he encourages his students to study the history of our people in this country.