Exploring L.E.S. Jewish history in all its facets

 The cover of Volume I of “Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side.”

The cover of Volume I of “Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side.”

“Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side” is a three-volume anthology. The first volume was edited by Clayton Patterson and Dr. Mareleyn Schneider. Volumes 2 and 3 were edited by Clayton Patterson.

The first volume addresses the social history of Judaism in the neighborhood. The second and third volumes follow these threads into modern culture, examining contributions to art, business and community in Downtown New York.

Totaling more than 150 chapters these three volumes investigate individuals, movements and institutions that have impacted the city, the country and the entire planet.

With respect to the vast history and cultural diversity that makes up the Jewish experience on the Lower East Side, the editors have engaged an equally vast group of essayists. Contributors include historians, neighborhood preservationists, artists, rock stars, activists, poets, filmmakers and more.

This work’s breadth and scope are best illustrated by a sample of different chapters:

“Allen Ginsberg’s Ideal Society”

“Architecture of the Jewish Ghetto”

“Early Communitarian Experiments on the Lower East Side”

“Social Reform Practices in New York City During the Gilded Age”

“Emma Goldman — First Slum Goddess of the Lower East Side”

“Jewish Boxing in the Lower East Side”

“June Leaf, Hands at War”

“Public Baths on the Lower East Side”

“Reflections (on Philip Glass)”

“Tuli Kupferberg: The Meaning of the Jew in the Dictionary of Anarchism”

Spanning more than 200 years, “Jews: A People’s History Of The Lower East Side,” truly is a people’s history.

Reviews have been enthusiastic.

TV-Vlit“This book represents a Herculean effort on the part of its editors, to tell the story of Jews on the Lower East Side,” said Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center for New York City History, at the CUNY Graduate Center. “It reintroduces readers to familiar and fascinating subjects, such as Emma Goldman and Allen Ginsberg, and places, such as Katz’s Deli, and also includes more obscure yet important Lower East Side figures, such as Daniel Stein and Congressman Leonard Farbstein, and places like the Essex Market and Stanton Street Shul. Three volumes, it covers everything; from religion to food to music, poetry, dance and crime.”

Joyce Mendelsohn, author of “The Lower East Side, Remembered and Revisited,” said of the three-volume work, “This is a valuable book of great importance, especially since historic sites in the neighborhood are disappearing as rampant gentrification continues to erase the visible presence of people and places from the past.”

Said Alan Kaufman, author of the memoirs “Jew Boy” and “Drunken Angel,” “ ‘Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side’ is not simply a monumental contribution to the city of New York, the Jewish people, the field of history, but a singular tribute to the heroic, collective vision of Clayton Patterson who, in everything from art to urban anthropology, has embodied the urgent necessity to document our human experience for the sake of the past as well as the future.”

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