The Lower East Side, America’s most famous immigrant neighborhood, was once home to the largest Jewish population in the world and the central institutions of rabbinic learning among these Eastern European Jews and their descendants was the Yeshiva.
Jonathan Boyarin spent a sabbatical year learning at the Lower East Side’s Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem (MTJ), an Orthodox seminary that is New York’s oldest institution of traditional rabbinic learning. This sabbatical led him to write the book Yeshiva Days in which he shares a side of Jewish life outsiders rarely get to see. “My hope is that, if the yeshiva is an unknown place to you when you begin to read, it seems more familiar by the end,” Boyarin writes, “and if it is already a familiar place, you may be reading it in a new light and with enriched appreciation of its significance today.”
Boyarin is the Diann G. and Thomas A. Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies in the Departments of Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies of Cornell University, and is an anthropologist whose 2011 book Mornings at the Stanton Street Shul is about a “tenement synagogue” also on the Lower East Side.
This is a story that Boyarin wants to share so that we can all appreciate how rare MTJ is, and understand why it should be valued. He will read selected excerpts from his book that bring to life the rituals and rhythm of this remaining bastion of study. Then the author will share anecdotes about his time at MTJ and discuss his process in writing the book in conversation with Dr Sharon Keller, a Professor at Hofstra University and a Conservancy tour guide. We will end with Q & A from the online audience. The entire event will last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.