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.

Nets to Host Chanukah Jewish Heritage Night at Barclays Center

Originally published on The Jewish Voice by JV Staff

The Barclays Center is the home arena of the Nets in Brooklyn, New York.

As the Nets gear up for the third season in their new home in Brooklyn, CTeen, Chabad’s global teen network, is planning its 2nd Annual Jewish Heritage Night [more …]Nets to Host Chanukah Jewish Heritage Night at Barclays Center

Faith In Brooklyn for Nov. 26

Originally published on Brooklyn Daily Eagle by Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor

Judith Clurman. Photo credit: Frank Wang

Prominent Conductor from Brooklyn Releases New Album on Jewish Song Acclaimed choral conductor Judith Clurman has released a new compact disc, “Cherished Moments: Songs of the Jewish Spirit,” on Sono Luminus (DSL-92182). Clurman, [more …]Faith In Brooklyn for Nov. 26

Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider

Originally published on New York Times by Sara Trappler Spielman

One day during Hanukkah 26 years ago, the grand rabbi of the Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim briefly turned away from the hundreds of men gathered before him in synagogue to cast his eye toward the women’s balcony. Then he extended an arm, offering someone [more …]Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider


originally published in Community Magazine

New Brooklyn Museum committed to revealing the unknown stories of heroism and faith that withstood the horrors of the Holocaust.

The joy of Adar abruptly turned to terror on Shabbat morning, 8 Adar, 5703 (February 13, 1943), when German officers stormed the synagogue and threatened [more …]THE KLEINMAN FAMILY HOLOCAUST EDUCATION CENTER

VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Daily Eagle – Oct. 17, 2014 Remsen St. became a block party on Thursday night as members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Congregation B’nai Avraham spilled out onto the street to dance with Torah scrolls. They were celebrating Simchat Torah (or Joy of Torah). Simchat Torah marks the cyclical tradition of reciting the [more …]VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights

Pedi-Sukkah Parade Peddles Through NY

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 7 2014 NEW YORK — In this photo provided by Chabad.org, 10 Chabad-Lubavitch teens on “pedi-sukkahs” ride down Fifth Avenue in New York on Monday. The pedi-sukkahs, are modified pedi-cabs with a Sukkah — a hut-like structure covered with bamboo — attached in the back. The goal of the [more …]Pedi-Sukkah Parade Peddles Through NY

Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle

By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor – Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10/7

This group of children enjoyed last year’s Sukkot at Luna Park. Photo courtesy of Luna Park

Jews around Brooklyn find innovative, fun ways of celebrating the joyful festivals. This year, Brooklyn’s famous amusement park at Coney Island will be transformed into a Sukkot Spectacle. [more …]Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle

Kosher Meets Hipster

American Millennials follow Jewish dietary laws at nearly twice the rate of Baby Boomers, perhaps finding the ancient laws fit well with contemporary concerns about sustainability. ANNA GOREN – The Atlantic – SEP 24 2014

On July 11, 1883, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise held a historic gathering in Cincinnati: the ordination of [more …]Kosher Meets Hipster

Obsessions, From Street Food to Rooftops

exerted from NYTimes, Oct 3, 2014

Mano Hirsch at his shop in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, is featured in Laura Silver’s book, “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food.” Credit Courtesy of Pamela Hirsch

In “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food”(Brandeis University Press), Ms. [more …]Obsessions, From Street Food to Rooftops

Artist’s Brooklyn show describes ultra-orthodox Jewish childhood 

Sara Erenthal grew up in a Neturei Karta community in Borough Park but split with her family after her parents returned to Israel. Her latest works draw on the life she left behind.

SHE HAS moved on, but she has not forgotten.

Sara Erenthal, who split from her ultra-Orthodox Jewish [more …]Artist’s Brooklyn show describes ultra-orthodox Jewish childhood