With Our Thanks:

-Former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz
-Former NY City Councilman Michael C. Nelson

Councilmembers: -Darlene Mealy, Stephen Levin, Chaim Deutsch, David Greenfield

-Jim Goldman, Charles Diker, Lloyd Handwerker, Hon Alice Fisher Rubin, Lowell Rubin, Raoul Felder bhs-logo2

Culture and Tradition

By Sarina Roffe
Jewish culture in all its variety thrives in Brooklyn, binding individuals and families together as a people. Central to Jewish culture are traditions which are handed down from one generation to another and which adapt to local conditions. Jewish cultural diversity in Brooklyn derives from the countries of origin of its populations, their languages, and ancestral customs. Cultural traditions powerfully influence the lives of Jews in Brooklyn who hail from all around the globe.

Brooklyn Jews have traditions and cultural practices that are as varied as the countries and regions from which they come, whether it is Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, or the Middle East. Each has adopted, adapted, and continued customs learned generations ago from their ancestors.

Nowhere are the culture and traditions more obvious than in our foods. From Brooklyn’s famous bagels and bialys to the cholesterol-building delicatessen, you can find tremendous variety in Jewish foods brought together in Brooklyn.

The borough is filled with both homey and exotic kosher restaurants, from family style pizzerias to white glove service restaurants that tempt the palate. In Brooklyn, you will find kosher Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Mexican food, just to name a few cuisines. In the past decade, many Israeli restaurants have opened, specializing in refreshing Israeli salads, falafel, shish kabob and mouthwatering shwarma.

Kosher supermarkets and butchers are in abundance in Brooklyn, from the smallest neighborhood stores to top of the line supermarkets which carry gourmet products. Full service kosher supermarkets, such as Pomegranate on Coney Island Avenue, appeal to the health conscious shopper seeking organic and locally grown foods. The borough is also dotted with kosher wine shops, which sell fine kosher wines. Many grocery stores, such as Shop Rite, Waldbaum’s and Stop & Shop, cater to the Jewish food shopper, as do wholesale warehouses.

Shoppers along Brighton Beach Avenue in Brighton Beach will find Russian signs lining the avenues, the stores filled with Russian speakers, Russian food items and their senses tempted by aroma of Russian cuisine. Similarly, on a walk down Kings Highway from McDonald Avenue to Ocean Parkway, shoppers will hear Arabic and Israeli-speaking Jews in stores filled with shelves lined with pita bread and freezers stuffed with Middle Eastern delicacies. Yiddish is the language of choice along 13th Avenue in Borough Park, Crowne Heights and Williamsburg, where appetizing foods like kugels and stuffed cabbage are comforting food for families.

Brooklyn Jews shop in some of the best bakeries in the world, with fresh challah sold in abundance on Fridays for use on the Sabbath. Familiar eastern European breads include pumpernickel, rye bread studded with caraway seeds, and zesty onion rolls. The bakeries feature specialty items for Jewish holidays, like sufganiyot (doughnuts)-- a Sephardic treat for Hanukah, hamentashen (triangle-shaped filled pastry) for Purim, or round sweet raisin challah for Rosh Hashanah. Mansour’s on Kings Highway specializes in decadent but delicious Middle East pastries. Smaller communities, like the Jews of the Caucasus or Central Asian origin continue to nurture their culinary traditions, selling specialty breads like tandoori- baked round lepeshka and pomegranate-molasses condiments.

In observance of the Sabbath and holidays, observant Jewish-owned businesses will close 2 hours before the Sabbath on Fridays and holidays and remain closed until the end of the Saturday or holiday. Some will reopen Saturday night two hours after the Sabbath ends.

Cultural traditions permeate every part of Jewish life in Brooklyn, whether in the Hassidic, orthodox, Conservative, Reform or secular Jewish worlds. In addition to the comfort of traditional foods, traditions guide how we celebrate holidays, what music and art we appreciate, how we dress, and how we name our children.

My Friend Louie

Submitted by Bill Morgenstern

It was 1933 in the middle of the depression. Sam, my father had found out in October, 1929 that his entire fortune was wiped out. He would need to liquidate his successful curtain rod factory with 600 employees to pay for the margin call.

Although Sam was a moderately religious [more …]My Friend Louie


NOVEMBER 10, 2015 – Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to announce the unveiling of Deborah Kass’ first large-scale public sculpture OY/YO, now on view in Brooklyn Bridge Park through August 16, 2016. Commissioned by Two Trees Management Company and presented in partnership with Brooklyn Bridge Park, the sculptural installation will coincide with No Kidding, [more …]DEBORAH KASS UNVEILS OY/YO SCULPTURE IN BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK

Avi Hoffman and Suzanne Toren on ‘Death of a Salesman’ and Yiddish

Avi Hoffman and Suzanne Toren, who star in the New Yiddish Rep’s production of “Death of a Salesman.” Credit- Ian Douglas for The New York Times


Before he was a salesman, Willy Loman was a peddler on the Lower East Side.

You won’t find any [more …]Avi Hoffman and Suzanne Toren on ‘Death of a Salesman’ and Yiddish

BJHI Bike Tours

Author, tour guide and veteran teacher Ellen Levitt has created and conducted two bicycle tours for the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative. A lifelong resident of Brooklyn, and the author of the trilogy The Lost Synagogues of New York City (Avotaynu), Levitt conducted her tour “Lost Synagogues of Greater Brownsville”, on Sunday, June 14; and her [more …]BJHI Bike Tours

Schmatehs and Cinemas in Brownsville

by Bernard Braginsky, 80

I lived in Brownsville from my birth in 1934 to age 18 in 1953, when my family moved to the tree shaded streets of East Flatbush. Now, at age 80, I think of Brownsville and the people I loved there. My family lived in a railroad apartment in a four story [more …]Schmatehs and Cinemas in Brownsville

Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskill Resort

by Joe Dorinson

As I write, an excellent film, Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskill Resort is playing in the background. It is the third time today that I have watched this wonderful if ultimately sad saga. In 1963, during Passover week, I ended my career there as a waiter. The $270 that I earned [more …]Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskill Resort

Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads

New York Times published Sarina Roffé, whose recipes have also been featured in NY Times Jewish Cookbook, Image Magazine and Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America, has released Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads. The book is available on Amazon. Sarina is the author of “Food and Drink, Modern Period: Syria.” Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic [more …]Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads





When thinking about writing this article, the biblical verse that came to my mind was from the Book of [more …]JUDGE JUDY – A 550 YEAR SAGA

East Midwood Jewish Center – 90 Years


90 years ago, a group of committed Brooklyn Jews came together to articulate a vision. They wanted to build a Jewish Center – a collective home to live their Jewish lives. It would be a uniquely American edifice; a place not only to pray, celebrate holidays, raise Jewish families, and explore the endless [more …]East Midwood Jewish Center – 90 Years

Adam Sandler, a Brooklyn Boy and Chanuka

Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1966,[2] the son of Judy, a nursery school teacher, and Stanley Sandler, an electrical engineer.[3] His family is Jewish, descending from immigrants from Russia on both sides.[4][5] When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended Manchester Central High School. [more …]Adam Sandler, a Brooklyn Boy and Chanuka