Thanks to the general awareness of my Jewish heritage that blogging here has brought me — along with specific research for Freud’s Butcher the book — a good part of my visit to New York City this past week has been spent getting in touch with my roots: Seeing old friends, eating at old favorite restaurants, and…
Doing Jewish Stuff
- I went to the Roman Vishniac Rediscovered exhibit at the International Center of Photography. As the website puts it, “Vishniac (1897–1990) created the most widely recognized and reproduced photographic record of Jewish life in Eastern Europe between the two World Wars.” It was excellent.
- I went to the Leo Baeck Institute, a “research library devoted to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry.” There’ll be a lot more on this.
- I saw the play Old Jews Telling Jokes, the title of which is self explanatory (except that there are also two young Jews telling jokes on stage). And that I can report first-hand that it’s very funny.
- I ate at the 2nd Avenue Deli, which is no longer on 2nd Avenue but has branches on 1st Avenue — the one I went to — and 3rd Avenue. (Maybe they’re averaging out their location, until they can find another place on 2nd Avenue?) I’m happy to tell you that the geographical anomaly is not reflected in the food, which is as Platonic Ideal of Deli as ever.
- This afternoon I am going to the Tenement Museum to experience the new Shop Life tour, which includes the story of turn-of-the-century kosher butchers Israel and Goldie Lustgarten. A visit to Jonah Schimmel Knish Bakery will be involved.
That’s not to say I have found religion or have been completely insular in my activities.
The Non-Jewish Portion of My Visit
Several of my old friends are not Jewish or only half Jewish, and I also met with non-Jewish new friends and ate Thai food and Chinese food (okay, that’s kind of Jewish). Having drinks at the Carlyle Hotel strikes me as decidedly — and gloriously– goyish. The close encounter I had with the sidewalk that forced me to cancel dinner plans with one of my newfound cousins as well as a visit to the Zagat offices to meet the nice people I’ve worked with long distance for years was nondenominational, unless you consider a lack of the innate athleticism that allows one to avoid bicycles that are in places where they shouldn’t be Jewish, which I don’t.
Some of my clutziest friends are not Jewish.