Mar 04 2013
How did you first hear about Eldridge Street?
My husband and I moved from Chicago to New York in 2007, after he received a job transfer. One day, my girlfriends and I were visiting the Tenement Museum, and our tour guide told us about a beautiful synagogue in the neighborhood that was currently undergoing restoration. We were very interested, so we walked over and were amazed to discover the building in its fragile state.
What inspired your connection to Eldridge Street?
When you go into the main sanctuary, and you feel the ridges in the floor, you know the building has a living history unlike any other. Also, when you stand in front of the ark, on the right-hand side, you’ll notice an indentation on the railing. According to congregants, the first rabbi was such an exuberant speaker he would dig his nails into the railing. The building itself tells a story.
My father’s parents were from Eastern Europe, and at some point they came to Manhattan. I know they lived on Hester Street. I would like to imagine they attended services at Eldridge.
You now volunteer at the Museum. How did that happen?
I have a background in accounting, so when we originally moved here, I was thinking of pursuing a part-time position. As soon as I was introduced to Eldridge Street, I knew I wanted to volunteer there. In 2007 I started training to be a docent and remember anxiously preparing to give my first tour. Well, I didn’t get to at the time. Shortly after I arrived, the Museum closed to visitors in order to complete the restoration for the grand re-opening that winter. I put myself to use helping in the office with the design of the original gift ship and the selection and organization of the inventory. When the Museum re-opened that winter, I finally got the opportunity to give my first tour. From there, I got into a rhythm and began sharing with visitors my rendition of the inspired history of Eldridge Street.
If you were to bring a friend to Eldridge Street, what would you make sure to point out?
I love the vestibule, the space between the building entrance and main sanctuary because it represents the transition from the chaotic life outside and beautiful sanctuary inside. The neighborhood was completely different at the turn of the century, so the synagogue now creates a startling yet vivid contrast with the outside world.
I have a love for the building, and I want to continue sharing that love with other people.