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Jewish culture

Thu 10 2017 , by

Bygone Buttered Rolls?

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like the common coffee-accompanying buttered roll has become bygone from NYC and the surrounding areas of NJ and Connecticut in any measurable way. However, in many cases they aren’t what they used to be, and finding them made properly (with a fresh, handmade Kaiser roll and real salted butter) is becoming a lot more iffy. While buttered rolls can still be bought as such in many small shops, diners, and sidewalk coffee carts throughout the city, the general consensus is that since bygone days (mid-20th century) in the majority of cases the quality of the rolls has gone down due to modern developments such as the disappearance of smaller, regional/local bakeries, leading to the mass production and the lack of freshness and quality of the hard rolls, and lack of knowledge of how they are “supposed” to be has led to rolls without the requisite crispy crust or poppy seeds on top. Then there is the butter, or lack thereof: the more frequent use of margarine of varying taste and mouthfeel by those who sell them, topped off by vendors wrapping them in plastic wrap in deference to modern sanitary sensibilities but giving the rolls the savor of the plastic. The comments section from this NY Times article about the phenomena of buttered Kaiser rolls or “butter rolls” as they are called in popular parlance is revealing: besides having arrived in NYC via “The Vienna Model Bakery” in 1870, which also brought commercial yeasted bread to the city, they derived from German/Austrian Jewish cuisine: one commentator reveals that her father called them “jew rolls” when at home, but not to appear anti-Semitic, ordered “hard rolls” from the local bakery. (In many cases, a local bakery was involved in the production of good old fashioned rolls with butter as they ought to have been-it is the scarcity of general purpose local bakeries that has been partly responsible for the taste and quality of buttered rolls becoming more frequently bygone.) How are the bastardized versions that have become widely available in our time still selling? For the same reason the original and better-tasting ones did: they might be the only thing some people can afford to eat all day. They are cheap and filling, though of dubious nutritional value. —

Ode to the Buttered Roll, That New York Lifeline

It can be hard to explain the appeal of a buttered roll.

Unlike the breakfast sandwich or the cruller, the humble buttered roll makes no claims to lusciousness. It’s not really greater than the sum of its parts: a round roll, sliced and slathered with butter. There is no alchemy involved.

And yet, like many New Yorkers, I’ve breakfasted all my life on buttered rolls, wrapped in plastic, foil or wax paper and sold for about a dollar at any corner deli, bodega or coffee cart.

Do I love them? No. That is not really the point. I love that they exist, an unsung, charmingly ordinary hero of the city’s mornings.…

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I saw this story posted on facebook, with a number of cynical comments gathering underneath about how it wouldn’t be long before the fire would be used as a rationale to demolish the building, and put an unaffordable condo complex in its place.

Bowery Boogie reports the following concerning the situation:

“The Lower East Side is covered in smoke right now. Several readers are telling us that the historic synagogue on Norfolk Street – Beth Hamedrash Hagadol – is currently up in flames. The FDNY labeled it a 3-alarm fire. One eyewitness riding his bike along Delancey told us that he heard a “big explosion” followed quickly by the plume. We have yet to confirm this detail.

A smaller fire reportedly broke out in the building on May 7, but was extinguished.

UPDATE: the 3-alarm fire is under control as of 7:50pm. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported in the incident.

More as it develops. Drop us a line if you know what’s happening.”

The fears of it being destroyed are not groundless: Bowery Boogie had previously reported:

“Beth Hamedrash Hagadol congregation in 1885 for $45,000 (about $1.2 million today). The New York City Landmarks Commission found that “Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City.”

This historic, religious edifice has been making headlines for some time now, mostly with regard to its preservation. The upkeep became too expensive for congregants. Moreover, even though it’s been protected since 1967, Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum had, at one point, petitioned the LPC to de-landmark the structure so that condominiums could be built instead. As a trade, a small synagogue would be built on the ground floor for the floundering congregation.”

If the worst happens, these photos below might be the only way people have to see this beautiful house of worship.

From Bowery Boogie:

Inside the Decaying Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on Norfolk Street [PHOTOS]

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 at 11:06 am by

Sanctuary of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in ruins, Photo: Landmarks Conservancy

Sanctuary of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in ruins, Photo: Landmarks Conservancy

“SAVE the FIRST Eastern European [Russian] Synagogue in the Americas,” reads the inactive Facebook page dedicated to Beth Hamedrash Hagadol.

The historic Gothic Revival synagogue was built in 1850 as a Baptist church and purchased by the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol congregation in 1885 for $45,000 (about $1.2 million today). The New York City Landmarks Commission found that “Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City.”

This historic, religious edifice has been making headlines for some time now, mostly with regard to its preservation. The upkeep became too expensive for congregants. Moreover, even though it’s been protected since 1967, Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum had, at one point, petitioned the LPC to de-landmark the structure so that condominiums could be built instead. As a trade, a small synagogue would be built on the ground floor for the floundering congregation.

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from Bowery Boogie:
After 90 Years on the Block, the Streit’s Matzo Factory Buildings Getting Demolished

Posted on: July 12th, 2016 at 5:12 am by

Demolition of Streit's begins

Unleavened past, unaffordable future. That should be the tagline at 150 Rivington Street.

After months of speculation and released renderings, the Streit’s Matzo Factory, on the block for decades, is now officially coming down. Sidewalk bridge, rat-baiting stations, and other pre-demolition appendages have been threatening as much since Passover.

The above image was submitted by a neighbor across the street, in which workers are seen sawing through the century-old fire escapes for removal. Now just scraps in a dustbin.

streits-demolition-2

It’s only a matter of time before this glass monstrosity invades the block. As previously reported, there will be 45 one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos for sale, including four duplexes penthouses on the seventh/eighth floor. Prices are listed at $995,000, $1.7 million, $2.75 million, and $3.8 million respectively. Building amenities include bike room, gym, laundry, storage, and rooftop terrace.

streit-condo-4

The family-owned Streit’s Matzo Factory finally surrendered to real estate pressures in January 2015, and sold the Rivington Street buildings to Cogswell Realty for $30.5 million. (A prior deal to sell the properties for $25 million fell through in 2008.) They’ve since purchased a new facility in Rockland County, which is the new headquarters for matzo production. And remember, not even the mayor really cared that this institution was departing the city after more than ninety years.

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From God of Vengeance to Indecent
Tuesday, Apr. 19 at 7:00 pm

On February 19, 1923, theatergoers witnessed Broadway’s first lesbian kiss at the English-language premiere of God of Vengeance, a play by Yiddish writer Sholem Asch. Days later, the NYPD arrested the entire cast on obscenity charges. Asch’s provocative drama and the legal controversy surrounding it has inspired theater artists ever since – including author Paula Vogel, whose new play, Indecent, captures the drama surrounding the 1923 production. We’ll discuss the radical possibilities of Yiddish theater during this panel.  #YiddishTheater

Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Indecent
Rebecca Taichman, Director, Indecent
Marvin Carlson, Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies, CUNY Graduate Center
Joel Berkowitz (moderator), Professor of Foreign Languages & Literature, University of Wisconsin

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$20 & up for non-members
$15 for City Museum Members…

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Picturing Prestige Gallery Tour: The Levys
Thursday, Apr. 14 at 1:00 pm

During our new series of gallery tours led by Curator of Paintings and Sculpture Bruce Weber, discover some of New York City’s early elite featured in Picturing Prestige: New York Portraits, 1700–1860. The first tour will focus on two of the exhibition’s most prized portraits, featuring Moses and Grace Levy, leading members of New York City’s small, but influential 18th-century Jewish community.  #Unselfie

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$10 for City Museum Members; $15 & up for non-members (includes admission)

Other Lunchtime Gallery Tours in this Series

Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton: Thurs., May 12
The Brooks Brothers: Thursday, June 16

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Voices from the Yiddish Stage
Thursday, Apr. 7 at 6:30 pm

Join us for a talk with Christa Whitney, director of the Wexler Oral History Project, as she shares video highlights from the Yiddish Book Center’s project featuring actors, musicians, and fans of Yiddish theater reflecting on its traditions and discussing its future. Enjoy cameos by Leonard Nimoy and Fyvush Finkl, as well as interviews with “bubbes” and “zaydes” (Jewish grandmas and grandpas). This program delves into the themes of New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway.  #YiddishTheater

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$12 & up for non-members
FREE for City Museum Members…

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