Home » Jewish » Heritage Walk in New York – Midtown West

Heritage Walk in New York – Midtown West

My walking trail of Jewish Manhattan

using Oscar Israelowitz’s book, Jewish Heritage Trail of New York as my guide. With Google Maps, I was able to plan and enjoy without wasting time and energy, and so had an amazing experience.

Edited Wikipedia provides further info.

Some American Jewish music. More on bottom of the right hand side panel  # 1 to 11

Midtown Manhattan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The eastern portion of Midtown Manhattan, including northeastward view of the prominentChrysler Building from the Empire State Building.

Midtown Manhattan, or simply Midtown, represents the middle portion of the borough and island of Manhattan in New York City, as noted along the long axis of the island. Midtown is home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the United Nations Headquarters, and it contains world-famous commercial zones such as Rockefeller CenterBroadway, and Times Square. Midtown Manhattan separates Lower Manhattan from Upper Manhattan.


Geographically, Midtown is commonly defined as the area south of 59th Street, east of the Hudson River, west of the East River, and though its southern border is less clear, generally it is taken to be 34th Street, although some would include neighborhoods as far downtown as 23rd Street or even 14th Street.

A panoramic view of Midtown Manhattan as seen from across the Hudson River in Weehawken, New Jersey (2011)

A panoramic view of Midtown Manhattan during midday, taken from the Empire State Building

View of the Midtown Manhattan skyline, looking north from the Empire State Building

Midtown West

Stops 124 & 125: Historic Jewish Cemeteries

Sixth Avenue at 11th Street & at 21st Street

From Jewish Heritage Trail of New York by Oscar Israelowitz:


Beth Haim Cemetery on 11th Street

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 Beth Haim Shlishi on 21st Street

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Stops 126: Macy’s Department Store

Herald Square, 34th Street

 Macy’s was the site of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun’s third location. BJ established in 1825, is the second oldest congregation in NY and the oldest Ashkenazi community.

Macy’s was founded by Isidor Straus. He and his wife, Judith, died in the sinking of the Titanic on 15 April 1912.

Isidor Straus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Isidor Straus
Isidor Straus 1903.jpg
Born February 6, 1845
Otterberg, Germany
Died April 15, 1912 (aged 67)
RMS Titanic (sunk), Atlantic Ocean
Other names Isadore Strauss
Ethnicity Jewish German-American
Occupation Co-owner of Macy’s department store
Spouse(s) Rosalie Ida Blun (m. 1871–1912)
Children Jesse Isidor Straus
Clarence Elias Straus
Percy Seldon Straus
Sara (Straus) Hess
Minnie (Straus) Weil
Hebert Nathan Straus
Vivian (Straus) Dixon

Isidor Straus (February 6, 1845 – April 15, 1912) was a German-born American businessman and co-owner of Macy’s department store with his brother Nathan. He also served briefly as a member of the United States House of Representatives.[1] He died with his wife, Ida, in the sinking of the passenger ship RMS Titanic.

Early life

Isidor Straus was born in Otterberg in Kaiserslautern county in the Pfalz, Germany. He was the first of five children of Lazarus Straus (1809–1898) and his second wife Sara (1823–1876). His siblings were Hermine (1846–1922), Nathan (1848–1931), Jakob Otto (1849–1851) and Oscar Solomon Straus (1850–1926). In 1854 he and his family immigrated to the United States, following his father Lazarus who immigrated two years before. They settled in Talbotton, Georgia, where Lazarus had convinced Rowland Hussey Macy to allow L. Straus & Sons to open a crockery department in the basement of his store.

Later life

In 1871, Isidor Straus married Rosalie Ida Blun (1849–1912). They were parents to seven children (one of whom died in infancy):

  • Jesse Isidor Straus (1872–1936) who married Irma Nathan (1877–1970), and served as U.S. Ambassador to France, 1933–1936
  • Clarence Elias Straus (1874–1876) who died in infancy
  • Percy Selden Straus (1876–1944) who married Edith Abraham (1882–1957)
  • Sara Straus (1878–1960) who married Dr. Alfred Fabian Hess (1875–1933)
  • Minnie Straus (1880–1940) who married Richard Weil (1876–1918)
  • Herbert Nathan Straus (1881–1933) who married Therese Kuhn (1884–1977)
  • Vivian Straus (1886–1974) first married Herbert Adolph Scheftel (1875–1914) and second, in 1917, married George A. Dixon, Jr. (1891–1956)

Isidor and Ida were a devoted couple, writing to each other every day when they were apart.

He served as a U.S. Congressman from January 30, 1894, to March 3, 1895, as a Democratic representative to New York’s 15th congressional district. By 1896, Isidor and his brother Nathan had gained full ownership of R. H. Macy & Co.[2] Also, Straus was president of The Educational Alliance and a prominent worker in charitable and educational movements, very much interested in civil service reform and the general extension of education. He declined the office of Postmaster General which was offered him by U.S. President Grover Cleveland.[3]

Death on the Titanic

The gravesite of Isidor Straus inWoodlawn Cemetery

Traveling back from a winter in Europe, mostly spent at Cap Martin in southern France, Isidor and his wife were passengers on the RMSTitanic when, on the night of April 14, 1912, it hit an iceberg. Once it was clear Titanic was sinking, Ida refused to leave Isidor and would not get into a lifeboat without him. Although Isidor was offered a seat in a lifeboat to accompany Ida, he refused seating while there were still women and children aboard and refused to be made an exception. According to friend and Titanic survivor Colonel Archibald Gracie IV, upon seeing that Ida was refusing to leave her husband, he offered to ask a deck officer if Isidor and Ida could both enter a lifeboat together. Isidor was reported to have told Colonel Gracie in a firm tone: “I will not go before the other men”. Ida insisted her newly hired English maid, Ellen Bird, get into lifeboat #8. She gave Ellen her fur coat stating she would not be needing it. Ida is reported to have said, “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” Isidor and Ida were last seen on deck arm in arm. Eyewitnesses described the scene as a “most remarkable exhibition of love and devotion.” Both died on April 15 when the ship sank at 2:20 am. Isidor Straus’ body was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett and brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia where it was identified before being shipped to New York. He was first buried in the Straus-Kohns Mausoleum at Beth-El Cemetery in Brooklyn. His body was moved to the Straus Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx in 1928. Ida’s body was never found. Isidor and Ida are memorialized on a cenotaph outside the mausoleum with a quote from the Song of Solomon (8:7): “Many waters cannot quench love – neither can the floods drown it.”[4]


Isidor and Ida Straus, sacrifices of the ship Titanic – Yiddish Penny Song

 My images

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B&H Photo Video

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates40°45′11″N 73°59′47″W

B&H Photo & Electronics Corp.
Type Retail
Industry Retail
Founded 1973 New York, New York
Headquarters New York City (Manhattan)
Number of locations 1
Products Cameras, video, film, audio, computers, electronics
Website bhphotovideo.com

B&H Photo Video, founded in 1973 and located at 420 Ninth Avenue on the corner of West 34th Street in ManhattanNew York City, is the largest non-chain photo and video equipment store in the United States.[1]


B&H Photo Video on 34th Street

The business is owned by Herman Schreiber. Schreiber and many of the store’s employees are observant SatmarHasidic Jews who close the store on Shabbat and Jewish holidays except for Hanukkah (Jewish law does not prohibit work during that holiday, except during Shabbat itself). The Web site remains open, but orders are not taken or shipped between Friday evening and Saturday evening and on Jewish holidays.[2][3] Surpassed only by the Diamond District in terms of Orthodox employment, the company is a vital part of the community’s financial health, with hundreds of Orthodox Jews on staff. An Orthodox Jewish bus company provides daily service to and from Kiryas Joel, a Satmar village in Orange County, New York.[4][5]The store is patronized by professional photographers and videographers, serving over 5,000 customers per day, while a greater amount of the company’s business comes from its internet operation and corporate sales. It also runs a warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.[1] On its website, B&H claims to be the “world’s leading retailer of imaging products.” The store carries a wide range of products across the electronics spectrum, with emphasis on professional and specialty photographic equipment.

In 2007, Google announced that they added B&H as a merchant accepting Google Checkout. When discussing their third-quarter financial results on an October 18, 2007 conference call, Sergey Brin, president and co-founder of Google, said that B&H is his favorite camera store.[6]

The store is also somewhat known for its extensive conveyor belt system that runs along the ceiling [7]


B&H opened as a storefront film shop on Warren street, in the area known as Tribeca, run by Herman Schreiber and his wife, Blimie (the store’s name comes from their initials). The store quickly outgrew its space. B&H moved to a large loft on West 17th Street in the Photo District in the 1970s. Catering to the needs of neighborhood artists, B&H expanded to selling film equipment as well as photo products. In 1997, the store moved to its present location. It now has a staff of over 1,500 employees.[8] B&H’s flagship store is located in West Midtown Manhattan (also known as “Hell’s Kitchen”) at 420 Ninth Avenue (at the intersection with 34th Street). On Tuesday October 30, 2007, B&H opened a second floor above its original sales floor making a total of 70,000 sq ft (6,500 m2) of sales space. The first floor encompasses professional lighting, binoculars and scopes, video, audio, darkroom, film and both home and portable entertainment; the second floor focuses on both conventional as well as digital photography, computers, printers, scanners and related accessories.[1][not in citation given]

My images

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Congregation Beth Israel West Side Jewish Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
West Side Jewish Center
West Side Jewish Center jeh.JPG
Basic information
Location 347 West 34th Street,
ManhattanNew York,
 United States[1]
Geographic coordinates 40.75302°N 73.995388°WCoordinates40.75302°N 73.995388°W
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Status Active
Leadership Rabbi: Jason Herman[2]
Website westsidejewishcenter.org
Architectural description
Architect(s) Gronenberg & Leuchtag[3]
Groundbreaking 1924[3]
Completed 1925[3]

Congregation Beth Israel West Side Jewish Center is an Orthodox congregation located at 347 West 34th Street,ManhattanNew York, in the Garment District,[1] near Penn Station.[3] Established in 1890, it constructed its current building in 1924–1925.[3] Rabbis have included Joseph Schick,[4] Norman Lamm,[5] and Solomon Kahane.[6] As of 2010, the rabbi was Jason Herman.[2]

Early history

Congregation Beth Israel West Side Jewish Center was established in 1890[7] by Orthodox German Jews and Jews fromAustria-Hungary.[8] In its early years the congregation worshiped at 252 West 35th Street,[8][9] a building later purchased by St. Paul Baptist Church.[3]

In 1905, the congregation constructed a new synagogue building at 252 West 35th Street, designed by architect John H. Knubel.[3] Its sanctuary sat 600.[8] In 1924, it broke ground for its current three-story building at 347 West 34th Street. Designed by Gronenberg & Leuchtag, it was completed in 1925.[3]

Dr. Joseph Schick became rabbi in 1926.[4] Born in Ónod in Austria-Hungary in 1892, he served as a chaplain in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, and was the rabbi of Budapest’s Beth Israel synagogue of 1918 to 1922, then emigrated to the United States. His books The Kaddish: Its Power for Good and Joseph’s Harvest were published in 1928 and 1932 respectively.[10] He served until his death in 1938, at age 49.[4]

Schick was succeeded in 1939 by Harry M. Katzen[11] and then William Novack,[12] and then in 1940 by Leo Ginsburg.[13]

1950s to 2000

In 1952, Norman Lamm, later president of Yeshiva University for over 25 years, was appointed to the role.[5] He would serve until 1958, before moving to the (unrelated) Upper West Side Jewish Center.[14]

Billboard for the film Angels & Demons on the side of the synagogue building

Solomon (Shlomo) Kahane, ordained in 1954 at Yeshiva University, was subsequently rabbi of the congregation for 38 years; he died in April, 2004.[6][15] He was a first cousin of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense Leagueand the Israeli political party Kach. The Jewish Defense League’s first meeting was held at the West Side Jewish Center on June 18, 1968.[16][17]

Events since 2000

Kahane was succeeded by Dr. Richard Weiss.[18] A licensed physician, Weiss subsequently became rabbi of Young Israel of Hillcrest inQueens.[19]

The synagogue was in the news in 2007. The congregation rents the entire side of its building for advertisements, and that year it was covered with a huge billboard for the film Resident Evil: Extinction. The image did not offend any members, according to then-rabbi Jason Herman, and the congregation found the additional income generated by the billboard helpful for maintaining the building.[20]

As of 2010, the rabbi was Jason Herman. A former investment banker, Herman received his rabbinic ordination at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He was also Executive Director of the International Rabbinic Fellowship and a fellow at Rabbis Without Borders.[2] Known for his activism, he was one of 22 Jewish leaders arrested at the United Nations in 2007 after a protest demanding the removal of Iran from the body.[21] In 2008, he was one of a group of liberal Orthodox rabbis who boycotted kosher meat from Agriprocessors over concerns that the company’s practices were unethical.[22]

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Shop 127: The Garment Center Monument

Garment District, Manhattan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates40.7535°N 73.9888°W

Men pulling racks of clothing on busy sidewalk in Garment District (1955)

The Garment District, also known as the Garment Center, the Fashion District, or the Fashion Center, is aneighborhood located in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The dense concentration of fashion-related uses give the neighborhood—which is generally considered to lie between Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue, from 34th to 42nd Street—its name. The Garment District has been known since the early 20th century as the center for fashion manufacturing and fashion design in the United States, and even the world.

Less than one square mile in area, the neighborhood is home to the majority of New York’s showrooms and to numerous major fashion labels, and caters to all aspects of the fashion process–from design and production to wholesale selling. No other city has a comparable concentration of fashion businesses and talent in a single district.[1]

Role in fashion

New York City is arguably the fashion capital of the United States. The industry based there generates over $14 billion in annual sales, and sets design trends which are mirrored worldwide.[citation needed] The core of the industry is Manhattan’s Garment District, where the majority of the city’s major fashion labels operate showrooms and execute the fashion process from design and production to wholesaling. No other city has a comparable concentration of fashion businesses and talent in a single district.[1]

Information booth in Garment District withNeedle threading a button sculpture in the background


The Garment Worker, bronze byIsraeli sculptor Judith Weller

New York first assumed its role as the center of the nation’s garment industry by producing clothes for slaves working on Southernplantations. It was more efficient for their masters to buy clothes from producers in New York than to have the slaves spend time and labor making the clothing themselves. In addition to supplying clothing for slaves, tailors produced other ready-made garments for sailors and western prospectors during slack periods in their regular business.

Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, the majority of Americans either made their own clothing, or if they were wealthy, purchased “tailor-made” customized clothing. By the 1820s, however, an increasing number of ready-made garments of a higher quality were being produced for a broader market.

The production of ready-made clothing, which continued to grow, completed its transformation to an “industrialized” profession with the invention of the sewing machine in the 1850s.

The need for thousands of ready-made soldiers’ uniforms during the American Civil War helped the garment industry to expand further. By the end of the 1860s, Americans bought most of their clothing rather than making it themselves.

German and Central European immigrants to America around the mid-19th century arrived on the scene with relevant business experience and skills just as garment production was passing from a proto-industrial phase to a more advanced stage of manufacture. In the early twentieth-century a largely Eastern European immigrant workforce powered the garment trades. Writing in 1917, Abraham Cahan credited these immigrants with the creation of American style:

Foreigners ourselves, and mostly unable to speak English, we had Americanized the system of providing clothes for the American woman of moderate or humble means. The average American woman is the best-dressed woman in the world, and the Russian Jew has had a good deal to do with making her one.

With an ample supply of cheap labor and a well-established distribution network, New York was prepared to meet the demand. During the 1870s the value of garments produced in New York increased sixfold. By 1880 New York produced more garments than its four closest urban competitors combined, and in 1900 the value and output of the clothing trade was three times that of the city’s second largest industry, sugar refining. New York’s function as America’s culture and fashion center also helped the garment industry by providing constantly changing styles and new demand; in 1910, 70% of the nation’s women’s clothing and 40% of the men’s was produced in the City.


Stop 128: The Actors’ Temple

The Actors’ Temple

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Actors’ Temple
May 2007
Location 339 W. 47th St., Hell’s KitchenNew York, New York
Coordinates 40.761167°N 73.989139°WCoordinates40.761167°N 73.989139°W
Built 1925
Architect Sydney F. Oppenheimer
Architectural style Classical Revival
Governing body Congregation Ezrath Israel
NRHP Reference # 05000445

[1]Added to NRHPMay 19, 2005

The Actors’ Temple, officially named Congregation Ezrath Israel, is a synagogue founded in 1917 in the Hell’s Kitchenneighborhood of ManhattanNew York City. Located at 339 West 47th Street since 1923, the temple was originally dubbed “The West Side Hebrew Relief Association,”[2] and it was the synagogue of choice for the entertainment industry. Many vaudeville, musical theater, television, and nightclub performers attended services there, including Sophie TuckerShelley WintersMilton BerleAl JolsonJack BennyJoe E. LewisEdward G. Robinson, as well as several of the Three Stooges.[3]

The temple declined after World War II as actors moved to California and the neighborhood changed, going from 300 members to approximately 30 in 2009.[3] In 2005, in order to bring in additional income, the temple started renting out dance rehearsal space toNew Dance Group as well as temporarily transforming into a theatre for plays.[4] However, even with this additional income, the $120,000 annual operating costs used up the $2 million endowment by 2009.[3] Despite these challenges, the temple continues to operate. In fact, the temple had a large fund raising program in 2011. In addition the congregation has grown to 120 dues paying members.[5]

2 thoughts on “Heritage Walk in New York – Midtown West

  1. I lived in NY for 53 years and did not know much of this information. Thanks for the chance to share these photos with you.

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