From the Trenches: Visitor Stories

Roberta and Nancy, our archivist, enjoying our most recent gala

Master Docent Roberta Berken shares:

In my capacity as a docent I am fortunate to meet people from all over the world and the country. Here are some of their stories.

In East London in the l9th century it was the custom for street peddlers to specialize in a particular item. Often the Jewish peddlers would sell fish and the Irish peddlers would sell potatoes, According to one of our visitors from London the Irish and the Jewish peddlers got together and decided to sell fried fish and potatoes together. Thus the origin of fish and chips. Now is this a fish story?? On the Lower East Side in the 1890’s one of our visitors described her great grandfather as a custom peddler. He would question his neighbors as to what they wanted to purchase for their needs. He would do their shopping for them for a fee. Thus the first personal shopper.

In a town in North Carolina there is a very special Torah. A visitor to our sanctuary while standing near the Ark told how her great grandfather fled his shetl with the Torah from the towns’ synagogue. While running from the shetl the soldiers fired on the band of Jews. One of the bullets hit the Torah which her great grandfather was holding saving her great grandfather but leaving a hole that went through the Torah cover and most of the Torah scroll. The Torah saved his life. She said that the Torah is in their synagogue and is used on special occasions.

Categories: Blog, Lower East Side

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