By The Museum at Eldridge Street
In 1906, New York City Police Commissioner Theodore Bingham asserted that half the city’s criminals were Jews. Although a widespread backlash forced Bingham to issue a retraction, Bingham’s message was loud and clear. New York’s Jewish population was considered a menace to more “polite” (aka “native”) society. In response, city residents formed the New York Kehilla, or “Community.” It was an attempt to organize communal activities under a single umbrella and present a united, productive group of Jewish New Yorkers and Americans. How was this unified front perceived? Were they successful? Using primary documents to spark discussion, this class will examine the successes and challenges of the Kehilla.
Barry Feldman is an educator, urban historian, and licensed New York City tour guide. He leads tours for the Museum at Eldridge Street and the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy.