Lillian Wald and the Henry Street Settlement

Lillian Wald co-founded what would become the Henry Street Settlement House (its original name was Nurses’ Settlement) on this date in 1893 — which was also her 26th birthday. Wald, the daughter of immigrants from Germany, enjoyed a relatively affluent upbringing and, after training as a nurse, became the greatest champion of public health services in […]

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Ira Gershwin

Lyricist Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershowitz), a Pulitzer Prize-winner (for Of Thee I Sing, 1932) and prolific songwriting collaborator with his younger brother, George Gershwin, was born on the Lower East Side of New York on this date in 1896. His parents were immigrants from Russia, who had come to the U.S. in 1891. After taking odd jobs […]

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Channel Esther: Bobst XX (The End – For Now)

by Esther Cohen To read previous installments, search “BOBST” in our search box, or click here. Dear Jewish Currents Readers, Last week’s Bobst installment was the story’s secret ending, for now. Here’s another one, a wrap-up. What happens next will be another story. Esther Cohen RIVKA CAME to America. Like many, she found herself in the […]

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Channel Esther: BOBST, a Serial Novel, Part XVIII

by Esther Cohen To read previous installments, search “BOBST” at right.   FIVE WOMEN from the meeting walked home in the same direction. They all lived on the Lower East Side,  near one another, in crowded tenements full of immigrants, young people and old.  Many spoke Yiddish. Bella, the oldest, a married mother, spoke to Rivka gently. “I’m sure […]

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Channel Esther: BOBST, a Serial Novel, Part XVI

by Esther Cohen To read earlier installments, search “Bobst” in search engine at right.   ON A COLD October night, more winter than fall, windy and dark by 6 o’clock, the women met in Clara’s Aunt Thea’s apartment, bigger than some, on the corner of Rivington and Essex. The year was 1909. The boroughs had become one consolidated city only […]

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Channel Esther: BOBST, a Serial Novel, Part XIV

by Esther Cohen To read earlier installments, search “BOBST” at right.   A young Jewish girl named Rivka comes to New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. She meets a woman named Clara at the garment factory where she works. CLARA, eight years older than Rivka, Clara, soon after immigrating to the United […]

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Margaret Sanger’s Jewish Allies

Margaret Sanger (not Jewish), whose activism and sacrifice led to the legalization and normalization of birth control in American life and the establishment of Planned Parenthood, was born in Corning, New York on this date in 1879. Finding her calling while working among working-class women on New York’s Lower East Side, Sanger was active in the […]

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Channel Esther: BOBST, a Serial Novel, Part XIII

by Esther Cohen To read earlier installments, search “BOBST” at right.   Uncle Label takes his young niece Rivka to see people in New York.    “COME,” LABEL SHOUTED. “Come with me.” He grabbed Rivka’s small thin hand, her white hand that was so much a girl’s, a hand that had hardly been touched. Her instinct was to […]

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The “Lottery-Crazed Ghetto”

The New York Times reported on this date in 1896 that the New York “district east of the Bowery, which, from the preponderance of the Hebrew population has come to be known as the Ghetto,” is “lottery-crazed.” Tickets for the Louisiana Lottery and both German and Austrian government lotteries were most popular, said the article, […]

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December 25: The Matse Queen

Regina Margareten, whose family built the Horowitz Brothers & Margareten Company, Orthodox matse-bakers on the Lower East Side, which she ran from her father’s death in 1923 until her own death at 96 in 1959, was born in Hungary on this date in 1863 (some sources say 1862). Margareten came to the U.S. as a […]

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