1. The first Jews to set foot in North America arrived in New York as a group of 23 in 1654.
2. Congregation Shearith Israel, founded in New York in 1654, was the first synagogue in the colonies. It was the sole purveyor of kosher meat until 1813.
3. By the late 19th century, there were over 5,000 kosher butchers and 1,000 slaughterers in New York.
4. In 1902, the Beef Trust raised the price of kosher meat on the Lower East Side from 12 to 18 cents per pound. After butchers’ boycotts proved ineffectual, 20,000 Lower East Side women stole meat from kosher butcher shops and set it on fire on the streets in protest. The Forward supported their efforts, running the headline “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo, Jewish women!”
5. On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire claimed the lives of 146 garment workers, the majority of whom were Jewish immigrants. Reporting on the tragedy, the "Forvitz" wrote that ‘the disaster is too great, to dreadful, to be able to express one’s feelings.”
6. When entertainer Al Jolson came to New York City at age 14, he held jobs in the circus and as a singing waiter. Born to a cantor, Jolson's career took off when he began performing in black face.
7. In 1903, the Lower East Side Chinese and Jewish communities formed an unlikely partnership when Chinese organizers put on a benefit for Jewish victims of the Kishinev pogrom, raising $280. (KISHINEV IS IN RUSSIA)
8. In 1930, there were over 80 pickle vendors in the Lower East Side’s thriving Jewish pickle scene. The briny delights were brought to America in the mid-19th century by German Jewish immigrants.
9. The egg cream is thought to have been invented by the Jewish owner of a Brooklyn candy shop. Musician Lou Reed was a famous admirer of the frothy drink.
10. From the beginning of the 20th century till the close of World War II, the Lower East Side’s 2nd Avenue was known as the Yiddish Theater District, or the Jewish Rialto. It extended from 2nd Avenue to Avenue B, and from 14th Street to Houston. Considered Broadway’s competitor, the Jewish Rialto was home to a variety of productions including burlesque and vaudeville shows, as well as Shakespearean, Jewish and classic plays, and were all in Yiddish.
11. The Jewish Rialto’s most popular haunt was the Cafe Royal on Second Avenue and 12th Street, where one could find performers such as Molly Picon and Charlie Chaplin sharing blintzes.
12. Pushcarts were all the rage among Jewish vendors on the Lower East Side from the turn of the century until 1940, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia banned their use. Jewish pushcart operators sold everything from vegetables to cigars to stockings.
13. At Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House on Chrystie and Delancey, every table is provided with a bottle of chicken fat as a condiment; resident emcee Dani Luv entertained diners with renditions of Jewish standards and punchy Borsht Belt humor. (It's still there!)
14 One of the first kosher Chinese restaurants in New York was Moshe Peking, whose all-Chinese wait staff wore yarmulkes.
15. The Second Avenue Deli opened in 1954 in the then-fading Yiddish Theater District. It featured a Yiddish Walk of Fame on the sidewalk outside its original location on Second Avenue and Tenth Street, and served up such Jewish specialties as matzo ball soup and corned beef. In 2007, it closed and reopened in Murray Hill.
16. Famed music club CBGB was opened in 1973 by Jewish founder Hilly Kristal.
17 Mayor La Guardia (who spoke fluent Yiddish), who served for three terms from 1934 to 1945, was born to a Jewish mother and descended from Rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto, but practiced as an Episcopalian.
18 The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was named in honor of the Jewish U.S. senator, who served from 1957 to 1981.
19 Sig Klein’s Fat Men’s Shop opened in the late 1800s at 52 Third Ave., and carried plus-sized clothes for men. Its sign featured the slogan: “If everyone was fat there would be no war.”
20. Abraham Beame was the first practicing Jew to become mayor of New York. He held office from 1974 to 1977.
21 The popular and proudly Jewish mayor Ed Koch, who served from 1978 to 1989, was known for the phrase “How’m I doing?” which he would ask passersby while standing on street corners or riding the subway. Newsday called him the “ultimate New Yorker.”
22. The erection of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903 catalyzed a Jewish exodus from the Lower East Side to Southside Williamsburg. Crossing the bridge on foot, the LES’s Jews left in search of better living conditions.
23 By 1930, more than 40% of New York City’s Jews lived in Brooklyn.
24 Jewish-fronted band, The Ramones, formed in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens in 1974.
25 Allen Ginsberg moved to New York to attend Columbia in 1943. He was purportedly related to seminal Zionist thinker Ahad Ha’am.
26. Poet and kabbalist Lionel Ziprin entertained visitors including Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, and Bob Dylan in his Lower East Side living room, expounding for hours on Jewish esoterica and history.
27. The bagel originated in Poland, and arrived in New York City in the 1880s in the hands of Eastern European Jewish immigrants.
28. Three hundred all-Jewish New York bagel craftsmen formed a trade union in the early 1900s, the Bagel Bakers Local 338, which established standards for bagel production and conducted meetings in Yiddish.
29 In December 1951, New York City was hit with what The New York Times termed the “bagel famine,” when a dispute between the members of the Bagel trade union and the Bagel Bakers association led to the closing of 32 out of 34 of the city’s bagel bakeries.
30 As a result of the bagel outage, the sale of lox dropped nearly 50%. Murray Nathan, who helped resolve an earlier lox strike in 1948, was brought in to mediate the situation. The outage lasted until February.
31 Coney Island Bagels and Bialys, the oldest kosher bagel shop in New York, was set to close in 2011 until two Muslim businessmen, Peerzada Shah and Zafaryab Ali, bought the store and promised to keep it kosher. Ali had previously worked at the shop for 10 years.
32. Lou Reed was born in Brooklyn, and in 1989 released an album whose title, “New York,” paid tribute to the city.
33 In a reinterpretation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” Lou Reed asked the four questions at the Downtown Seder at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in 2004.
34 Musician Lenny Kaye was born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in 1946. He met Patti Smith while working at Village Oldies on Bleecker Street and went on to become a member of the Patti Smith Group.
35 Starting in the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of Jews left the Soviet Union for New York, many settling in Brighton Beach, which came to be known as “Little Odessa.”
36 Established in 1927, Kehila Kedosha Janina at 280 Broome St. is the last remaining Greek Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.
37. Streit’s Matzo Company, the last remaining neighborhood matzo factory, stands at 148-150 Rivington St. (Moved to 20 Knickerbocker Road, Moonachie, New Jersey 07074 in 2016.)
38. The oldest Orthodox Jewish Russian congregation in the United States, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, is still active at 60 Norfolk St.
39. On the corner of Essex and Rutgers, down the street from the original Forvitz building on Seward Park, the Garden Cafeteria served as a gathering place for Jewish actors, artists and playwrights such as Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer from 1941 to 1983. It became Wing Shing, a Chinese restaurant, in 1985, and now houses Reena Spaulings Fine Art.
40 Seward Park on the Lower East Side was created in 1900. New immigrants worked in the park’s artisan market, and on special occasions such as elections, thousands gathered in the park to watch the Forvitz’s flashing news sign in Yiddish.
41 Jewish gangs rose to prominence during the Prohibition; at a conference in New York in 1931, Jewish gangsters agreed to partner with Italian Americans, and together remained the most dominant groups in organized crime until several decades after WWII.
42. After an appeal from a New York judge, Nathan Perlman, Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky and members of Murder Inc. broke up Nazi rallies around the city for over a year, with the one stipulation that there be no killing.
43 Lines of a sonnet by Sephardic poet Emma Lazarus, who was born in New York City in 1847, are inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
44. The house that stands at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn is the center and spiritual home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Formerly inhabited by Chabad’s late leader Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitchers have built replicas of the building all over the world to serve as movement outposts.
45 The first Reform congregation in New York City, Temple Emanu-El, was founded in 1845 by 33 mostly German Jews, and moved to its present location in 1929. Members have included Joan Rivers and Michael Bloomberg.
46. As large numbers of German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution made their homes in Washington Heights in the mid-1930s, the area was dubbed “Frankfurt on the Hudson.”
47. Sweet ‘n’ Low was invented in 1957 in Brooklyn by Benjamin Eisenstaedt.
48. Bronx-born Steve Karmen wrote the jingle "I Love NY”
Bronx-born Milton Glaser designed the “I LOVE NY” logo in 1977.
49. Eight Hasidic dynasties are headquartered in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.
50 Outside of Israel, New York City is home to the largest population of Jews in the world.
51. As of 2011, 1 in 6 households in New York were Jewish.
Today on the Jewish Jokes page, something that is not a joke-ANTISEMITISM. In light of the white supremacist shootings of late, we look at someone in the world of entertainment who has used his position to spout hatred of Jews...Mel Gibson.
Few things in life are certain, but among the constants are death, taxes and revelations about Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism.
The latest news on this front is actually quite old, stemming from a Hollywood party in or around 1996. On June 21, 2020, Winona Ryder repeated an anecdote she first made public in 2010, telling the Sunday Times that Gibson asked if she was an “oven dodger.”
“She lied about it over a decade ago, when she talked to the press, and she’s lying about it now,” Gibson’s representative told The Hollywood Reporter. “Also, she lied about him trying to apologize to her back then. He did reach out to her, many years ago, to confront her about her lies and she refused to address it with him.”
On June 23, 2020, Ryder maintained that she remembered the interaction clearly. “I believe in redemption and forgiveness and hope that Mr. Gibson has found a healthy way to deal with his demons, but I am not one of them,” Ryder said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Only by accepting responsibility for our behavior in this life, can we make amends and truly respect each other.”
But will Gibson make amends? Has he tried in the past? Why do we keep talking about this and what, if any, efforts has he made to improve?
Because we seem to return to this topic like clockwork, we’ve compiled a handy guide to Gibson’s long and sordid history of anti-Semitic remarks — including other alleged instances of that loathsome “oven dodger” slur — along with his many fumbled efforts at a mea culpa.
January 3, 1956: Mel Colmcille Gerard Gibson is born in Peekskill, N.Y. to Anne Reilly and Hutton Gibson. His father, a World War II veteran, was a Catholic fundamentalist who believed the Second Vatican Council — which modernized the church — was a “Masonic plot backed by the Jews.” Decades later, in the lead up to the release of “The Passion of the Christ,” Hutton Gibson is interviewed by radio host Steve Feuerstein and claims that “most of” the Holocaust was “fiction;” that Holocaust museums are a “gimmick to collect money;” and that there were more Jews in Europe after World War II than before.
In or around 1996: Ryder and her friend, the make-up artist Kevin Aucoin, who is gay, are at a crowded party with Gibson, who is smoking a cigar. Ryder claims that Gibson asks Aucoin “Oh wait, am I gonna get AIDS?” At some point, Jews come up in conversation and Gibson allegedly asks Ryder “You’re not an oven dodger, are you?”
August 2003: Before the release of “The Passion of the Christ,” former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind leads around 50 Jews to the Fox News offices in Manhattan to dissuade 20th Century Fox from distributing the film, claiming its content suggests that Jews as a people bear collective guilt for the death of Christ.
“It will result in anti-Semitism and bigotry. It really takes us back to the Dark Ages,” Hikind says. Fox passes on distributing the film.
February 2004: After reviewing an advanced script for “The Passion of the Christ,” the ADL and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issue a statement calling the screenplay “one of the most troublesome texts, relative to anti-Semitic potential, that any of us had seen in 25 years.” The plot, they write, depicts Jesus as being “relentlessly pursued by an evil cabal of Jews” who pressure Pontius Pilate to sentence him to death. The readers also note that the idea that a Jewish campaign was responsible for Christ’s crucifixion was rejected by the Catholic Church through Vatican II. (Well, we know what Gibson’s father thought of Vatican II.)
February 25, 2004: “The Passion of the Christ” is released in theaters. Many critics note that the portrayal of Jews as grotesque, hook-nosed pharisees is deeply rooted in anti-Semitic stereotypes. Caiaphas, the Jewish priest shown leading the charge against Jesus, remorsefully utters the controversial line “His blood [is] on us and on our children!” Due to lobbying by Jewish groups, the subtitle for the line is removed but the audio for the line — delivered in Hebrew — remains in the film.
Gibson tells The New Yorker he included the line, which intimates that the Jewish people share collective guilt for Jesus’ death, because “I wanted it in. My brother said I was wimping out if I didn’t include it. But, man, if I included that in there, they’d be coming after me at my house. They’d come to kill me.”
When challenged about how the film would be received by Jews, Gibson says in multiple interviews that his film is simply telling “the truth.”
December 2005: It’s announced that Gibson, seeking to repair his reputation with the Jewish community, is developing a Holocaust miniseries for ABC. The series is never made.
July 2006: L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee pulls Gibson over on the Pacific Coast Highway. After informing Gibson, who is drunk, that he will be detained, the actor says, apropos of nothing, “F—-ing Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” before asking Mee, “Are you a Jew?” (Mee is.)
Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, issues a statement from Gibson to The New York Times. “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable,” Gibson said. “I am deeply ashamed of everything I said, and I apologize to anyone I may have offended.”
Mee claims that following his encounter with Gibson, his supervisors pressured him to remove the anti-Semitic remarks from Gibson’s incident report. After complaining about those request, he says, he was subject to religious discrimination and passed up for promotions. He sues his department, finally settling a religious discrimination suit with his employer in 2012.
September 2011: It’s reported that Gibson is developing a historical epic about the life of Judah Maccabee, whose story he claims to have loved since discovering the first and second Books of the Maccabees. “I just read it when I was teenager, and it’s amazing,” Gibson tells The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Gibson claims to take a special delight in the cinematic potential of Macabee’s defiance of impossible odds — “The armies they faced had elephants!” — after Seleucid persecution pushed him to a point where he “just snapped.”
The ADL’s Abraham Foxman issues a statement in response to Gibson’s plans: “Judah Maccabee deserves better. He is a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty. It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views.”
At the same time, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance tells The Hollywood Reporter that Gibson has “had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr. It’s simply an insult to Jews.”
April 11, 2012: Warner Bros. decides to pull the plug on “The Maccabees,” citing problems with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas’ script, TheWrap reports. Hours later, TheWrap runs a copy of a nine-page letter from Eszterhas to Gibson, dated April 9.
In the lengthy missive, Eszterhas accuses his collaborator of announcing “The Maccabees” film “in an attempt to deflect continuing charges of anti-Semitism which have dogged you, charges which have crippled your career,” and states that Gibson had no intention of actually making the movie. When Gibson did express a desire to make it, Eszterhas writes, Gibson said his main goal was “to convert the Jews to Christianity.”
Eszterhas accuses Gibson of having “continually called Jews ‘Hebes’ and ‘oven-dodgers’” during their work together. He claims that Gibson also called the Holocaust “mostly a lot of horseshit.” At one point, Eszterhas remembers Gibson claiming that the Torah mentioned the sacrifice of Christian babies. When Eszterhas insisted that Gibson was thinking of the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Gibson insisted “It’s in the Torah — it’s in there.”
Gibson responds to Esterhasz with a brief letter of his own, calling the majority “of the facts as well as the statements and actions” attributed to him “utter fabrications” and accuses him of only voicing his issues with his conduct after Warner Bros. rejected his script.
“Contrary to your assertion that I was only developing Maccabees to burnish my tarnished reputation, I have been working on this project for over 10 years and it was publicly announced 8 years ago,” Gibson wrote (the earliest reports of the project appear to date back to 2011). “I absolutely want to make this movie; it’s just that neither Warner Brothers nor I want to make this movie based on your script.”
October 27, 2016: While doing press for his film “Hacksaw Ridge,” Gibson says he feels “annoyed” when people mention his 2006 anti-Semitic tirade and said that it was “unfair” that he had a reputation as being prejudiced.
“I don’t understand why after 10 years it’s any kind of issue,” Gibson says on Variety’s Playback podcast “Surely if I was really what they say I was, some kind of hater, there’d be evidence of actions somewhere.”
May 2019: Deadline reports that Mel Gibson will star in a film called “Rothchild” as a character named “Whitelaw Rothchild,” the patriarch of a super wealthy New York family whose name is a play on that of the Rothschild dynasty, a favorite target of anti-Semites. Per IMDB, the film is still in development.
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