Jacob Frommer loves everything herring. But he’s far from your quintessential old man at kiddush. A 26 year old working in education technology, Frommer began trying herring as a way to connect to Eastern European Judaism of yore and quickly fell in love — seeking out the best herring wherever he goes from shul kiddush to famous dairy delis.
The New Jersey native lives in downtown Manhattan, and while he was raised Modern Orthodox he calls The Big Lebowski his “other bible.” He has not taken the subway in six months, and instead walks or bikes everywhere. He spends the money he saved on cabs, beer, and, of course, herring.
Russ & Daughters has been around for so long that it’s hard to say that any one year is the year of Russ & Daughters, but 2014 really is it. The Lower East Side palace of lox is celebrating its 100th birthday by opening its first café this spring. The stories of the original shop (four generations and 1.8 million pounds of herring in the making) will be captured in Julie Cohen’s new documentary “The Sturgeon Queens.”
Catch Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the trailer below — it’s filled with choice lines like “There’s something maybe genetic that makes you feel good when you’re down there,” and “Pop used to throw people out if they said anything he didn’t like. ‘Who asked you to come here, forget the address.’”
If you’re an American Jew, there’s a pretty good chance that somewhere, somehow, someone in your family made dinner on the Lower East Side.
Though the area has been home to a countless nationalities and ethnic groups, it holds a special place in the hearts of American Jews, many of whom can trace their first foothold in the country back to “the old neighborhood.”
On June 5, the Tenement Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the 150th anniversary of the restored building at 97 Orchard Street, which housed over 7,000 people from more than 20 countries from 1863 to 1935.
As a tribute to the many sights and smells imprinted into the tenement’s walls, the gala was set up as an edible timeline, a “taste of the tenements,” catered by current local vendors and restaurants and inspired by the neighborhood’s residents. Here’s a window into what they would have been eating, and where you can find those treats today.