The Festival of Lights is as good a time as any to get in touch with your Jewish heritage — or at the very least your city’s Jewish heritage. Take advantage of these two fine opportunities.
After Hours at the Museum at Eldridge Street
Dec. 9 at 6:30 at Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., Lower East Side; $30.
Tucked away in the bowels of Chinatown, the Museum of Eldridge Street doesn’t get quite as much attention as its neighbor the Tenement Museum. But the museum’s home, the former Eldridge Street Synagogue, is a Moorish-style masterpiece, complete with 50-foot ceiling and (a more recent addition) a striking stained-glass window by artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans. If you haven’t had the pleasure of touring the meticulously restored and landmarked 128-year-old building where countless Eastern European immigrants escaped the drudgery of tenement life, this is the perfect excuse, as the Museum will be serving up wine and latkes during this nighttime reception. The tour will focus on architectural elements like numerological symbols, faux-painted designs, a nine-stemmed candelabra, and a mystery compartment on the reader’s platform.
The Golden Bride
Through Jan. 3 at Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl., Financial District; $40.
Among East Village history buffs, it’s no secret that Second Avenue used to be an epicenter of Yiddish theater known as the Jewish Rialto. But while you may have noticed the Yiddish Walk of Fame near the corner of Second Avenue and East 10th Street, you’ve likely never seen any of the Yiddish plays that were put on in the neighborhood during the vaudeville era. Now, however, the 100-year-old National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is taking up residency in the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s 375-seat performance hall and reviving Joseph Rumshinsky’s The Golden Bride (Di Goldene Kale), a romantic comedy that opened in 1923 to a packed house at Kessler’s Second Avenue Theater and continued to be put on internationally through the 1940s until it was nearly forgotten. Here, the story of a woman who sets off from Russia to America to find her mother is presented in Yiddish with English and Russian subtitles, with the help of a 14-piece orchestra.