The Shmooze

NYC's Jewish 'Street Fair King' Upset Over Cuts

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share

To organizers, they’re colorful, family-oriented neighborhood celebrations. To detractors, they’re traffic-snarling commercial ventures that hijack streets and punish locals.

Now, after a long-simmering dispute over street fairs, New York City has decided to cut the size and hours of the outdoor bazaars, the Daily News reported this week.

Street fairs, “which often generate complaints from locals about their crowds, noise and generic offerings, will be cut by about 25%,” officials told the News.

The cuts “were greeted with applause by critics of street fairs, who often slam the events’ cookie-cutter rows of T-shirts, socks and Italian sausages,” the News said. “These are generic, soulless, corporate productions and they should be trimmed,” said New York City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents Manhattan’s East Side. “They cause considerable disruption for many months of the year, for little benefit to the neighborhoods they’re in.”

But Mort Berkowitz — dubbed by the News as one of “the kings of New York City street fairs”, and the organizer of Little Italy’s massive annual San Gennaro festival — disagreed.

“Street festivals give local non-profits an opportunity to reach out to the public and promote themselves,” Berkowitz, founder of Mort & Ray Productions, told the Forward in an e-mail. Street fairs, he added, “give people an opportunity to have a family day — to walk in the streets with their children without having to worry about cars and bicycles, where they can be entertained by performing artist and be able to chat with their neighbors without spending any money.”

Jewish organizations benefit from street fairs too, Berkowitz contends. “Several local synagogues and Jewish organizations such as Project Open at Lincoln Center, Congregation Rodeph Sholom and Stephen Wise Free Synagogue have participated in our festivals,” he said.

In 2010, the News reported that Berkowitz’s company had taken in $1.2 million from vendors at 22 street fairs the previous year.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: New York City, Mort Berkowitz, Daniel Garodnick, Street Fair

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.