Historic Synagogue Expands Popular Christmas Programs

By Serena Solomon on December 10, 2013 9:16am 

 Amy Stein-Milford, deputy director of the Museum at Eldridge Street, and Hanna Griff-Sleven, director of cultural programs at the museum.
Amy Stein-Milford, deputy director of the Museum at Eldridge Street, and Hanna Griff-Sleven, director of cultural programs at the museum.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

LOWER EAST SIDE — A historic former Lower East Side synagogue is getting in the Christmas spirit.

For the past 15 years, the Museum at Eldridge Street has hosted a klezmer concert for kids on Dec. 25, throwing a party for those who don't celebrate Christmas. The concert was so popular — drawing more than 500 people last year — that the museum decided to expand the event into a full week of programs this year.

"You want to celebrate it [Christmas] in a way that is true to who you are," said Amy Stein-Milford, deputy director of the museum.

In addition to the Christmas Day concert, the restored 126-year-old synagogue at 112 Eldridge St. will also offer rugelach pastry workshops, hot cider walking tours through the Lower East Side and a family scavenger hunt in the week leading up to Christmas.

"Hanukkah came so early this year," said Hanna Griff-Sleven, the director of cultural programs at the museum, describing the decision to add extra events. "We really have nothing this month."

The programs will culminate in the traditional "Klez for Kids" concert, with children acting out a mock wedding and learning a few Yiddish words as they dance and play. The event also draws many local seniors and adults without children, Stein-Milford said.

"[New Yorkers] want to have a place to go when everything else is closed," Stein-Milford said.

For Cherie Marcus, a Park Slope resident, the klezmer concert was the perfect Christmas tradition as her daughter was growing up.

"It was adorable and wonderful and it reinforced Han's Jewish identity," Marcus said of her daughter, who is now 22.

And since the museum is on the edge of Chinatown, Marcus could keep up that other Jewish ritual for Dec. 25.

"We could still do the traditional eating of the Chinese food straight after," she said.

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