I first visited the The Museum at Eldridge Street Synagogue some years ago when I attended a reading produced by Origin Theatre. The building fascinated me, and finally this week I took one of the guided tours to find out more. I learned not only about the building, but also quite a bit about Jewish life on the Lower East Side.
When this National Historic Landmark opened its doors in 1887, it was the home of a vibrant Orthodox Jewish congregation for many years. As the community dispersed, the main sanctuary was closed, and fell into disrepair. Starting in the mid 1980’s, over a 20-year period, the synagogue was restored to it’s former splendor, and now has a stunning new stained-glass window by the artist Kiki Smith and the architect Deborah Gans. The Museum is closed on Saturdays and major Jewish holidays, when it is used as a synagogue.
The Museum has ongoing cultural and educational events. Check out the “Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas” street festival Sunday, June 7th, from noon to 4:00, celebrating Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican cultures and cuisines.