Each one of us has a family story. Last week I took my children to the Lower East Side of Manhattan to see the Tenement on Rivington Street where my grandfather, Benjamin Schoenfeld, was born after his family arrived from Bucharest, Romania. A hundred years later, the Lower East Side is still an immigrant neighborhood of people looking for a better life than the one they left behind in the old country. My son said, “They were so smart to settle in Chinatown.” I explained many of the Chinese immigrants came later and today this is one of the greatest centers of Chinese culture and cuisine in America. We walked around the old neighborhood on Rivington and Orchard Streets, and then entered the old shul on Eldridge Street, a breathtaking monument to the former glory of this once teeming Jewish community. The pickle guy is still there and we feasted on the half sours. Afterwards, we went to Yonah Schimmel’s bakery hoping to find Challah for Shabbat, but they only had Knishes. So that night, Friday night, we had knishes instead of challah, and they were the most delicious Jewish comfort food. It was emotional for me to show my children, born in London and Jerusalem, where their Ashkenazi great grandfather (my grandpa Ben) was born and lived in New York and to walk around his old neighborhood.
Each one of us has their own story of how they came to America. In two weeks, we will celebrate with our wonderful cantor her coming to America from Argentina, and her installation as the first cantor ever at Shaaray Tefila. This is a big moment in the history of our Temple and as a huge step forward in the life of our congregation. Please come to the Temple on Friday, January 20th to celebrate with Cantor Ines Kapustiansky our hopes and dreams for a vibrant future for our Jewish Community of Northern Westchester.
Rabbi David Wilfond