Welcome to New York, a city known for its vibrant multiculturalism and rich history! If you’re a tourist interested in immersing yourself in diverse cultures, including the Jewish culture, you’re in for an incredible experience. New York boasts a thriving Jewish community and offers numerous opportunities to explore this fascinating civilization.
With its extensive history and diverse traditions, the Jewish culture in New York provides a captivating lens into the global Jewish experience. As the city with the largest Jewish population worldwide, even surpassing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv combined, New York offers an unparalleled chance to engage with Jewish heritage and traditions.
So, let us guide you through what New York offers to explore the Jewish culture.
Visit places important for the Jewish culture
New York is a city famous for its diversity, having millions of people of other ethnicities and gathering hundreds of cultures and widely spoken languages. Many immigrants have arrived in New York to discover the American dream and fell in love with the city, thus making it their home.
This is also the case for Jews, as they represent approximately 9% of the city’s population, making New York the largest community for Jewish people other than Israel.
Watch this video to get a glimpse of the Jewish life in NYC:
Because most of them live in Brooklyn, the area was nicknamed “the most Jewish spot on Earth”, and there are several places where you can immerse yourself in the Jewish culture, like:
The Jewish Museum
Founded in 1904, the Jewish Museum in New York is one of the oldest organizations of this kind in the world and the first one created in the United States. It is an important art museum and a cultural hub for art and history lovers, with more than 30 000 art pieces.
It offers exhibitions on Judaica objects, media that presents the experience of Jews from all around the globe and from the ancient period until the present, gallery tours, art craft workshops, and even live music and performances. The Jewish Museum shouldn’t be missed as it contains some of the most impressive and unique objects, like ancient artifacts and contemporary artwork created by Jewish artists.
Watch this video by the NYC Traveler to get a glimpse of the Jewish Museum:
The Lower East Side
The Lower East Side has become the home of several immigrants that have arrived in New York, including Jews, who tried to create a community and live as best as they could. They intended to personalize the environment and replicate their original places, so they constructed synagogues, bakeries and other buildings to make New York more like their home. When visiting this part, you will see that several houses still bear the footprints of the Jewish influences, as they once represented important institutions for Jews.
Watch this video to get a glimpse of Jewish food in the Lower East Side:
Consider a tour to Israel
Another good way to get familiar with the Jewish culture is to join a group tour with Israel Connection, which will permit you to visit the Holy Land and visit cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Nazareth. Jerusalem is a must-see location for anyone who wants to go back in time and discover the heritage culture of Israel, as the visitors can walk on the stunning streets, admire gorgeous buildings, taste authentic food, and visit the Wailing Wall.
The Wailing Wall, or the Western Wall, is famous for its religious importance, where millions of tourists come from far away for the prayers dedicated to loved ones, which can be either spoken or written on paper and placed between the wall cracks. The good news is that this important site can be visited anytime as it is open 24/7 and free of charge.
Nazareth is also a place famous for the ancient landmarks that have essential historical importance, as it represents the childhood home of Jesus Christ. Thus, the city became a popular pilgrimage possibility, and other attractions in this town include the Synagogue Church, the Church of the Annunciation, the Mensa Christi Church and the Church of St. Gabriel.
Practicing educational tourism to Israel will surely offer plenty of information about Jewish culture and traditions, and you will better understand the needs of the people and discover what Jews were looking for when searching for new homes abroad. We also created a short guide with tips for a journey to Israel.
Eat Jewish delicacies
As it is said that love goes through the stomach, what other way can get you closer to the Jewish culture, other than trying several authentic, delicious specialties? Jewish food is now more alive than ever in New York as several restaurants have been opened all over Brooklyn, especially in the Lower East Side.
But be careful because once you taste the Jewish food, there is no coming back, and it can become a serious yummy addiction (don’t say we didn’t warn you). You have several staples you need to try, like matzah brei, a classic Passover dish with matzah and scrambled eggs, potato latkes, egg cream, matzah ball soup, pastrami sandwiches, bagels and knishes.
Watch Jewish Movies
For movie aficionados, watching films is the best way to gain insights into Jewish culture. Because Jews are known for not having the easiest life throughout history, plenty of movies staged the hard living conditions that they went through. Films documenting essential historic facts include Fiddler on the Roof, Schindler’s List, A Stranger Among Us, Waltz with Bashir, and the list can continue.
The good news is that New York is also the place of the annual New York Jewish Film Festival, where you can witness movies that explore Jewish life from all around the globe, so don’t miss this year’s edition, which will take place between 12-23 January.
Which alternative will you choose to become more familiar with the Jewish culture?