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Jewish deli

Author @ the Library: Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli with Ted Merwin
Book talk
Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

Program Locations:
Mid-Manhattan Library
Fully accessible to wheelchairs

This illustrated lecture focuses on the history of the deli as an essential ethnic gathering place for post-immigrant generations of Jews who were shifting away from scrupulous religious observance and looking for more secular ways of building community.

Ted Merwin is an associate professor of Religion and Judaic Studies at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he is founding director of the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life.…

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The Deli Man documentary is a look at the phenomenon of the Jewish-run delicatessen restaurant, from its first known origins in the USA among New York Jews of German origins in the 1840s, to its present-day situation: less numerically prolific, but ambassadors of Jewish cuisine throughout the nation and the world. A large Jewish Deli restaurant operating in, of all places, Texas, claims the blessing of NYC, citing the authenticity of its cuisine by claiming to be a New York establishment on its sign. Though the Jewish population is not declining and surprising numbers can be found in such seemingly surprising places as Texas, Jews have become more “Americanized” and assimilated. Jewish deli owner Ziggy, whose grandparents were Yiddish speakers, observed that American Jews had “turned their backs on Yiddish culture”. Deli owners and Jewish actors who were regular patrons of certain prominent Jewish Delis blame the numerical decline of Jewish Delis on the hard work and long days required of the owner/operators who take a more personal role with their restaurants than perhaps those dealing with other types of cuisine in the restaurant industry. Many examples of food items which are hand-made on a day-to-day basis are cited. Certain foods which are staples of these establishments such as meat sandwiches and potato salad are not very forgiving of advance preparation and pre-packaging. Another phenomenon is the assimilation of Jewish delicatessen restaurants into the world of non-Jews, which has rendered many of these establishments non-Kosher because have started serving certain non-kosher dishes, such as meat sandwiches with cheese on them, to attract and keep non-Jewish customers. …

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“44 Amazing NYC Places That Actually Still Exist” (Buzzfeed).

Most are bars and restaurants.

A lot of classic New York City spots might be disappearing, but you can still go to these distinctive shops, bars, and restaurants. For now, anyway.

1. Russ & Daughters, 179 East Houston St. (East Village)

Russ & Daughters, 179 East Houston St. (East Village)

Jeffrey Bary / Via Flickr: 70118259@N00

Russ & Daughters, a family-operated “appetizing store” focused on selling traditional Jewish fish and dairy products, has been a fixture of the Lower East Side since 1914. It’s one of the only existing stores in the entire country dedicated to appetizing.

2. Eddie’s Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave. #1 (Forest Hills)

Eddie's Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave. #1 (Forest Hills)

Joe Shlabotnik / Via Flickr: joeshlabotnik

Eddie’s Sweet Shop is an old school ice cream parlor and soda fountain that has served the neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, for over a century. It’s not too hard to find ice cream shops that aspire to capturing the vibe of an old-timey soda fountain, but this is the real deal.

3. Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway (East Village)

Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway (East Village)

Postdlf / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Strand may be the single most beloved and iconic used book store in the entire city, and has been a destination for bibliophiles around the world for nearly a century. The store contains a staggering amount of books and truly lives up to its hype.

4. Di Fara Pizza, 1424 Avenue J (Midwood)

Di Fara Pizza, 1424 Avenue J (Midwood)

apasciuto / Via Flickr: apasciuto

Di Fara has been around since the mid-’60s but made the shift from local treasure to a destination spot for world class pizza sometime in the past decade or so. The pizza is so good that people are willing to travel from all over the city and wait for up to three hours to get a pie handcrafted by restaurant founder and pizza auteur Dom DeMarco.

5. Generation Records, 210 Thompson St. (Greenwich Village)

Generation Records, 210 Thompson St. (Greenwich Village)

Daniel Lobo / Via Flickr: daquellamanera

Greenwich Village was once a major destination for record collectors, but this large punk and metal-centric shop is one of the few stores that’s managed to stay open over the years.

6. St. Mark’s Comics, 11 St. Mark’s Place (East Village)

St. Mark's Comics, 11 St. Mark's Place (East Village)

St. Mark’s Place has been heavily gentrified over the past 20 years, but this stalwart comics shop has stuck around despite so many seedy punk and counterculture shops getting replaced with chains like Chipotle and Supercuts. (And yes, this is the comic book store from that one episode of Sex and the City.)

7. Caffe Reggio, 119 Macdougal St. (Greenwich Village)

Caffe Reggio, 119 Macdougal St. (Greenwich Village)

Scott Beale / Via Flickr: laughingsquid

Caffe Reggio has a crucial role in the development of coffee culture in the United States — it was the first establishment to sell cappuccino in America back in the 1920s. The cafe still has its original espresso machine, which dates back to 1902, and was purchased by founder Domenico Parisi when he opened the place in 1927.

8. Old Town Bar on 45 East 18th St.

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from New York magazine: http://nymag.com/guides/everything/last-chance-new-york/index1.html

 How Much Time Left?

Hit these bookshops and shoe shiners before they meet their expiration dates (or relocate).

Jim’s Shoe Repair (50 E. 59th St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-355-8259)
Go: ASAP—it’s currently in a month-to-month lease while contesting eviction.
Get: A traditional shoe shine; all the booths are the originals from 1932, when co-owner Joe Rocco Jr.’s grandfather founded the place.

Subway Inn (143 E. 60th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-752-6500)
Go: Before November 30, when the 77-year-old watering hole, frequented by Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio, will move two avenues east.
Get: A $10 beer-and-shot combo.

Posman Books (9 Grand Central Terminal, nr. 42nd St.; 212-983-1111)
Go: Before December 31.
Get: A hard-to-find 2015 wall calendar from publishers like Cavallini and teNeues.

Cafe Edison (228 W. 47th St., nr. Broadway; 212-354-0368)
Go: Before mid-December.
Get: The matzo-ball soup, served at down-to-earth Jewish-deli prices (and in the blissful absence of tourists) despite the Times Square location.

Glasslands (289 Kent Ave., nr. S. 1st St., Williamsburg; no phone)
Go: Before December 31.
Catch: A tribute night dedicated to Swedish star Robyn (November 28) or punk group Peelander-Z (December 6), whose Japanese members perform in primary-color wigs.

La Lunchonette (130 Tenth Ave., at 18th St.; 212-675-0342)
Go: Before June 2015.
Get: The very reasonably priced grilled lamb sausage, preferably on Sunday night, when there’s live accordion.

Union Square Cafe (21 E. 16th St., nr. Union Sq. W.; 212-243-4020)
Go: Before December 2015 (relocation plans are TBD).
Get: The tuna burger, unchanged since Danny Meyer opened here in 1987.
—Hana R. Alberts

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