Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NYC and back again...

Newlyweds - Raluca and Derek - She's a nurse and he's a new ER doctor - they are moving from Philadelphia to Connecticut - they met at the hospital!

Came back from NYC and hit the ground running so haven't posted for a while - NY was fabulous as always - my cousin Derek married a wonderful Romanian gal named Raluca and our two families had a great party in my cousin Gene's backyard - my Dad was the baby of eight kids so I have lots of cousins and we got to spend time together catching up -

The Solomon Cousins - with a few missing

Raluca's Mom, Cousin Jed,Cousin Gene (Derek's Mom), Newlyweds Raluca and Derek, Raluca's Dad (Mitch) is hiding behind the couple

While I was in NY I took a class at a wonderful stamp store in the West Village called The Ink Pad - our very generous teacher was Estrella - we made "inchies" - enjoyed meeting everyone from around the world in our class but realized that inchies are not my forte - live and learn - the store was filled floor to ceiling with amazing stamps - bought way too many - but real estate is at a premium in the city and the store was so small that it was crowded when two people stood side by side! They closed the store at 7 pm and then let all ten of us students in, set up tables and somehow we all fit!

Earlier that day I met my cousin Rhoda down on the Lower East Side to tour the oldest synagogue there - The Eldridge Street Synagogue- it was built in the 1800's when that neighborhood was filled with Jewish immigrants - now it's an Asian neighborhood - the synagogue was just restored and still houses a small Orthodox congregation of 40 people - the rest of the time the synagogue is a museum and they give tours which we took - you can take a tour on their website - it's also used as a gathering place for music events and lectures for the whole community - The building began to decay in the 1950's and the upstairs where the sanctuary is was locked until the 1980's and they only used the downstairs for services - The synagogue restoration was taken on as a project to restore it in the 1980's and finally just finished - these pictures don't do it justice - it's beautifully restored and you can feel the history when you stand in the sanctuary -

The Rabbi's would deliver their sermons from this lectern on the Bimah (pulpit) at the front of the synagogue

View of the restored sanctuary from the Bimah

Close-up of the restored lighting - these were originally gas lights but have been restored as electric but used the original glass and brass

View of two stories of windows on the side of the sanctuary

view of the steps up to the Bimah from sanctuary view

view from the center doors looking to the front of the synagogue

View from the women's section upstairs looking down onto the main floor of the sanctuary (Men and women sit separately in Orthodox synagogues even today)

Restored stained glass window upstairs faces Eldridge Street

Velvet covered wooden table in the center of the sanctuary - used to hold Torah for readings during services - The Torah (The five books of the bible hand written with special quill in Hebrew on goat skin scroll) are housed in a special ark at the front of the synagogue and taken out and unrolled to that week's Torah portion and read during a special part of the service

View of one section of the women's section upstairs - note the marble poles (they are actually faux painted in the restoration because actual marble reminiscent of that era is too costly - but even up close you can not tell they are painted!) also note center on the back wall - a section of the wall is unfinished to show what it was like before restoration began -

The museum relies completely on donations so if you feel inclined check out how you can donate on their website -

Another great place to visit while down on the Lower East Side is The Tenement Museum on Orchard Street - it is an old boarding house from the 1800's that has several apartments restored - while I was there last year I visited the Jewish apartment and the Italian apartment - they have just completed an Irish apartment and they have a fabulous gift shop -

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