Friday, October 19, 2007

A Jewish New York

So last week I ventured to the Big Apple, home to scores of bagels, pizza and wedding dresses. My heaven, really.

But as any good Jew-in-training would do, I made sure to take in some of the more Jewish-centered sights as well. Because, frankly, the one shelf at the one store 30 minutes from me is all I've got.

A short recap:

DAY ONE

On Saturday, after a tiring and somewhat disappointing day looking for "the dress," Marissa and I dragged our tired feet over to the Jewish Museum. It was free day, so I wasn't going to miss it, because I'm a budget traveler (one who was looking to spend her money on a dress I'm only going to wear and the 100s of times before the big day just to make sure it still fits).

Highlights of this stop:


• Getting scolded for trying to take a picture. Oops.
• The menorah with the red-white-and-blue Statute of Liberty.
• My first celebrity sighting: Michael Imperioli of the Sopranos. I didn't know who he was because I only watched one of the shows, and he happened to have been killed off by that point. But Marissa nonchalantly pointed at him. I thought she was saying he had a hook. Long story.
• The best part of the museum was a video that showed the sounding of an air horn for two minutes throughout Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was an amazing video of a busy intersection in Jeruselum coming to a complete stop while the air horn sounded. To see an elderly woman start to cry was enough to stir my emotions. It was an excellent video.

Overall this was probably my least favorite of our stops. It was still interesting, but mostly dealt with artwork and artifacts throughout Jewish history. I get the feeling I would have enjoyed it more had I picked up the children's guide.

DAY TWO

On Sunday, our Jewish stop for the day was the tenement building at 97 Orchard St. in the Lower East Side, the original garmet district. This was recommended to me by many people, including Jody's friend Patty.

Highlights:


• Authenticity of our tour guide: She was definitely Eastern European and really knew her stuff.
• This was probably the most educational of our stops, because I really didn't know much about Jewish immigration into New York. We took the "Piecing it Together" tour, which took us into two apartments: one of a wealthy sweatshop owner, the other of a poor family.
• It had a super-cute gift shop, in which I bought these cards:


DAY THREE

On Monday, Marissa and I hoofed it to our last stop of the Jewish tour: The Museum Of Jewish Heritage.

Highlights:

• Marissa studied Germany, so she was able to read a lot of the propaganda posters.
• This museum probably was the best we visited. They had gallery after gallergy of interesting facts and moving images. It had been a while since I truly studied the Holocaust, and it was all very overwhelming. My favorite installation showcased the faces of the dead. You walked into this area where you were surrounded on all sides by huge, billboard-sized panels containing 5x7 pictures of victims. They were all around you. As you walked from panel to panel, it felt like you were in a crazy house with all the mirrors. It was utterly overwhelming.
• This museum was in Battery Park, and the architecture really took advantage of the views of water and park. If I was a New Yorker, I'd definitely get married here. (Photo courtesy of the museum's Web site.)

Phew. That's my trip. Oh, and I bought a dress. More on that in about a year. :)

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