When visiting other cities or countries, Mr. Hermit Crab and I are always interested in the Jewish culture and history in that place. We have visited synagogues and historic landmarks all over the world, and we are always learning new things. New York City has amazing Jewish resources and culture to explore, and I have put together a short list of the many opportunities there are here.
Just a disclaimer: I don’t work for any of these organizations/restaurants/etc. I just like them! Also, this is definitely not an exhaustive list—just some of my local faves! All of these places are in Manhattan unless otherwise noted.
Short of visiting Israel itself, New York City has some of the best kosher restaurants in the world. They range in price, cuisine and location, but there tons of options!
*Just a side note, for anyone traveling to NYC: A great resource for eating out in New York City is Menu Page. You can search for any restaurant by neighborhood, cuisine or other category.*
Anyway, here are some of our tried and true favorite kosher restaurants (you can get supervision information on most of their websites, if you are interested, as well as hours, menus and prices):
Murray’s Falafel (meat) 261 First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets
In my opinion, some of the best falafel in the city, by far. Their shwarma and sides are also delicious (I have been told, since I am a vegetarian)
Their sister dairy restaurant, Bagel Boss, is right next door if you change your mind!
Pastrami Queen (meat) 1125 Lexington Avenue at 78th Street
I can’t speak from experience on this one, but it was voted “best pastrami in NYC” so there’s that (and Mr. Hermit Crab would definitely agree!).
2nd Avenue Deli (meat) 162 East 33rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenue
New York City’s quintessential kosher deli—no longer on 2nd Ave, but same character, and you will pay for the experience! Although it is quite expensive, it is a local favorite.
Rectangles (meat) 1431 1st Avenue, between 74th and 75th Streets
Very delicious upscale Mediterranean food, with plenty of veg options too!
Va Bene (dairy) 1589 2nd Avenue between 82nd & 83rd Streets
For a delicious and fancy dairy night out on the town, this restaurant can’t be beat, owned by a family from Rome, so you know it has to be great!
Eden Wok (meat) 43 East 34th St, between Park and Madison Avenues
Delicious kosher Chinese food – enough said!
Ess-A-Bagel (dairy) 359 1st Avenue, at 21st Street (original location)
THE place for a New York City bagel. Must hit – several location throughout the city
The Pickle Guys 49 Essex Street (Lower East Side)
OK, so this is technically not a restaurant. But if you’re exploring Jewish New York City, you need to have a real pickle, picked from a barrel, with so many option that you don’t know how to choose. For real, check this place out! There are more than just traditional pickles. Basically, if you can pickle it, they’ve got it!
Oh, you’re full? And you potentially want to visit places other than restaurants?
(There are tons more kosher restaurants of every cuisine—meat, dairy, brunch, Indian, Italian, you name it—you can find it!)
There are a plethora of exciting Jewish sites that you can visit in New York, I have chosen a few to highlight that I really think are worth checking out.
Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum 12 Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Streets (Lower East Side)
Originally built in 1887, and restored in the last few years, the Eldridge Street Synagogue is a stunning example of a New York synagogue. Aside from its own rich history, they often have different exhibits and performances. It is a gorgeous building and definitely worth the visit.
Tenement Museum 97 Orchard Street (Lower East Side)
The Tenement Museum is on the Lower East Side, and is a preserved tenement house, highlighting the Jewish culture that used to pervade the Lower East Side. It’s a fun museum to walk through and take a trip back through history. There are a number of different tours and exhibits that you can see here.
Jewish Museum 1109 5th Avenue at 92nd Street
Housed in a gorgeous historic mansion on the Upper East Side, the Jewish museum has a number of circulating collections, covering a range of topics. The website has information on current exhibitions and events.
Museum of Jewish Heritage 36 Battery Place (downtown, Battery Park)
The Museum of Jewish Heritage is NYC’s Holocaust memorial museum, and has a riveting and interactive permanent collection, as well as periodic circulating exhibits. It is close to the water, and has great views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Central Syngogue 652 Lexington Avenue at 55th Street
So, there is nothing particularly historical about this building but it is an absolutely gorgeous (Reform) congregation, and was the location of Ben Stiller’s congregation in the movie “Keeping the Faith”—fun fact, really (but of course, also a gorgeous and historic synagogue)!
B’nai Jeshurun is a community that does not have one permanent location. It is a community that is quickly becoming known worldwide for it’s interactive and spirit-filled Shabbat (Friday night and Saturday morning, the Jewish Sabbath) services. Through the use of musical instruments, active members, storytelling and dynamic leadership, B’nai Jeshurun is definitely a unique experience and may be worth the visit!
If you have a group, hate planning your own tours, want to get an inside perspective, or just want to take a walking tour, JWalks offers a variety of tours that can be tailored for many sized groups, neighborhoods, interests and more. These can be a little bit pricey, but are definitely a unique experience!
And there you have it, ‘Hive! I hope you have enjoyed my brief look at a Jewish visit to NYC!
As I mentioned earlier, this is absolutely in no way an exhaustive list of the Jewish landmarks and points of interest in New York City – this is just a taste to get you started, or give you a quick peek into the opportunities for Jewish resources in Manhattan. If you are traveling to NYC and have questions about other Jewish resources (or really any questions at all) please feel free to PM me and I would be happy to help in any way I can.
Did I miss something? What are your favorite “Jewish New York” spots? Or what I really want to know, what is your favorite kind of pickle? (I’m a full sour, or garlic dill).
See all the posts in the Honeymoon in my Hometown Series here!