Lower East Side History

Tenement Concert: Songs of Yiddish New York


We partnered with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for a night exploring Jewish immigrant New York City of yesteryear through musical performances live inside the recreated 1890s parlor of the Levine family, immigrants from Eastern Europe!

At once a “golden land” of opportunity and joy and a place full of the challenges of immigrant life, New York held a myriad of experiences for new Americans. From songs about leaving one’s homeland and arriving in Ellis Island, to anthems of the everyday difficulties of sweatshop labor, to hit songs of the Yiddish theater that exemplify leisure time activities, this concert uses music to bring the bustling world of the Jewish Lower East Side to life. A performance of Pulitzer prize-finalist Alex Weiser’s song cycle, Coney Island Days, will round out the program.

Based on an oral history interview with the Weiser’s late grandmother, these songs explore childhood activities in Coney Island, working in the family’s knish store, visiting the Russian bath, and more. The concert features an introduction and historical commentary by Weiser in conversation with Tenement Museum President Annie Polland, and musical performances by singer Eliza Bagg and pianist Paul Kerekes.

View our exclusive digital songbook featuring English translations of the program!