Here are some facts about the Jewish community in the state of New York: 1.7 million Jews live in New York, most of them in major cities and provinces of the state; there are 10 Jewish Federations, with the New York City branch being the largest one in the United States.
The state has 12 community centers (seven throughout New York City, and the rest in the cities of Schenectady, Buffalo, Tarrytown, Rockland and Rochester).
There are more than 600 synagogues of all various Jewish streams: 314 Orthodox, 116 Conservative, 102 Reform, and 9 Reconstructionist. Also, there are dozens of independent communities and numerous Chabad centers scattered throughout the state.
In a special video series hosted by actor Ori Laizerouvich, which tries to answer the question: What do Jews eat in the U.S.?, the host travels to New York to take a bite of the Jewish community in Brooklyn during the Purim holiday.
His journey began by reading a scroll at a synagogue in Crown Heights, then by making culinary and spiritual preparations for the holiday at the home of the Friedman family of the Chabad stream. "We may look hungry, but it's not just that," said Shlomo Friedman. "We eat because it's a mitzvah."
The traditional Jewish cuisine was served at the holiday table, "the ones my grandmother used to cook," said Bracha Friedman. The traditional food king, at least in the Friedman household is the kugel, however, hamantash also has a special place in their Purim celebration.
Whenever Bracha tastes the traditional food, she says she thinks of her grandmother, "who made the most delicious hamantash. When I got married and left home, she would send me, every year in the mail, a box of her special hamantash."
The Jewish population in New York City alone makes up 15% of the entire Jewish community in the U.S. In fact, one in nine New York residents is a Jew, while in Brooklyn every fifth person is Jewish.
The borough of Brooklyn is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, and about half of the Jews living there are ultra-Orthodox. The World Chabad Center is located in the Crown Heights neighborhood, where many Chabad followers live. The rest of the Haredi community lives in the neighborhoods of Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Flatbush. Brooklyn also boasts numerous synagogues, Jewish educational institutions for all ages, yeshivas, kosher restaurants and shops, and medical centers.
Large Haredi and Hasidic communities also live in other suburbs of New York City, including New Square in Rockland County. The Kiryas Joel became the first Orthodox city in the U.S. in 2019, and 90% of its population speaks Yiddish.
Many Israelis also found a home for themselves in the city. For instance, Laizerouvich met chef Tomer Bachmann, owner of Miss Ada, which became very popular in Brooklyn. For 15 years now, Bachmann has been living in Brooklyn, and he says that the Israeli cuisine suits well New Yorkers' healthy food habits.
"Israeli food is the healthiest you can eat right now, and Americans - especially in Brooklyn - want to eat healthy," he said. "Israeli food is Middle Eastern food with a lot of vegetables, a lot of colors and flavors," Bachmann said.
"Miss Ada is a result of 15 years of hard work," Bachmann said. Before establishing his own restaurant, he worked for nine years in various Italian eateries. "My style is Italian cooking, which I combine with the memories of what I ate as a child in Israel."
“Food is one of the most powerful connectors between people and therefore, it is an ideal vehicle for an initiative that forges warmer ties between Israelis and American Jews,” says Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Whether it be through history, culture, diversity, and the revelation of the unique nature of each community, our new video series promises to take viewers on an unforgettable journey that simultaneously brings the world’s two largest Jewish population centers closer together.”
Created and Produced by the Ruderman Family Foundation
Nawipro – Production Company
Or Sitt – Director