On a Tuesday morning in early November, 16 adults and a baby in a stroller huddled in a group near the statue of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in Harlem. Despite the chill in the air, all eyes were intent on Barry Judelman as he delivered a brief history of the neighborhood’s Jewish community.
The group, gathered that day for the Jewish Harlem Walking Tour, was mostly older and Jewish. This is generally true of the participants in the various Jewish history tours he leads around New York City, Judelman said. “That’s one of the sad things about it.”
According to Judelman, more often than not, people interested in such tours have a family connection to the Lower East Side or parts of Brooklyn, where there is still a large Orthodox Jewish population. Younger Jews, he said, often don’t have “the background interest and more importantly, knowledge of the fact that they live in what was this massive Jewish community. Indeed, the beginnings of the American Jews.”