Tenement Museum

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When considering exhibitions of the immigrant experience in the United States, the Eldridge Street Museum and Synagogue, as well as the Tenement Museum, hold a unique and exemplary collection and site concerning the history of Jewish Immigration. Though both are museums within blocks of each other in New York City’s Lower East Side, and serve as a site of preserved cultural heritage, they respectively offer a very unique exposé on early Jewish life and immigration, while synergizing narratives with other ethnic and religious groups. Through dialogues, tours, and cross-cultural events with the surrounding communities, these museums have consolidated their place as a “New York Museum”, as opposed to simply a “Jewish Museum. In addition to …show more content…

When venturing through the tenement museum, the signs of Jewish Immigrant life in Industrial America seem apparent, with objects and decorations clearly denoting the Ashkenazic background. Whether it be the copy of The Forward written in a Yiddish type, a voucher for English courses written in Yiddish, or traditional foods, which the museum displayed as being bagels and challah, the signs of Jewish living are clear. But this is not the only location where we find remnants of Jewish life, as the Eldridge Street Synagogue has several features which personalize the space, and turn it into the intimate space that served this community. Among the clearest of these personal features of the shul would be name plaques denoting reserved benches for certain donor families, or name crotched into the side of a tapestry on a Torah scroll covering. Interestingly though, the most notable yet unseemly sign of once prevalent Jewish life that the visitor can see in both sites, are the creases in the floorboard. This unique feature implies the idea that people had congregated and stood around that specific location, whether the crease was in the kitchen of a tenement, or behind the pews of the synagogue, so frequently, that they had inadvertently “left their …show more content…

One such method in which the museums brings together groups of people, would be their component of the guided tour which begins with a discussion on social issues, with a recent topic being the problems that sweatshops pose to contemporary New York City. In addition to this, the museum offers a series of walking tours, group discussions, food tastings, public talks led by prestiged academics, and re-enactments of the individuals who lived on 97 Orchard Street. On this walking tour, visitors can see items that belonged to former resident immigrants of many different ethnic backgrounds the tenement house such as documents in languages such as Italian, English, German, Chinese, Yiddish, and Hebrew. This inclusion of objects of varied cultural background found within the same location, the 97 Orchard tenement building, and displayed within the same exhibition case, helps to aid the notion of a parallel and synergized immigrant experience of the respective

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