I frequently point out to the need to integrate Jewish heritage sites into broader heritage contexts, as there are relatively few places where Jewish sites can be sustained through Jewish visitorship and use alone. One growing movement is to provide walking tours based on themes in which Jewish sites are included because of history, art, music, location, etc.
These can be one-time events to better promote a building, or to strengthen ties with neighboring institutions and community organizations. They can be aimed to expose a non-Jewish audience to an interesting and important Jewish site, or they can be aimed to broaden the horizons, and offer greater programming options, to an already "captured" Jewish audience. This types of integrated programming also works in the development of permanent hertiage routes for hertiage tourism. Synagogues played many roles in Jewish communities and at communities at large. Thus, they can often take their place in tours devoted to historical themes other than strictly Jewish history - ethnic and immigration history, women's movement, labor history, etc. as well as tours devoted to art and architecture.
This Sunday the Museum at Eldridge Street on New York's Lower East Side offers an example of a varied tour of local sacred sites, putting Eldridge in a broader religious context, and focusing on the changing demographics of the Lower East Side as witnessed through synagogues, churches and (Buddhist) temples.
Sacred Sites Walking Tour
Sunday, July 26 at 11amFind sanctuary in the city on the Sacred Sites Walking Tour. On this tour—which begins at the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue—participants will stroll the streets of the Lower East Side visiting synagogues, churches and temples spanning 200 years of religious life in America. Discover many types of houses of worship, from early structures built by wealthy English landowners to historic houses of worship central to the Jewish, African American, Italian, Chinese and Hispanic immigrant experience.
The Museum at Eldridge Street presents the culture, history and traditions of the great wave of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side drawing parallels with the diverse cultural communities that have settled in America. The Museum at Eldridge Street is located within the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which opened its doors in 1887.