In the heart of the old Jewish Ghetto, a small 22 room hotel is home to the renown Chabad of the Lower East Side, situated amongst tens of thousands of unaffiliated Jews, from affluent families, upwardly mobile yet spiritually directionless. Ironically drawn to the tenement dwellings once home to the majority of immigrant Jews. Sparks of previous generations and of newcomers are positioned to collide into a religious renaissance. A perfectly balanced Jewish and hip venue for NYC’s culturally astute. Yisroel Settenbrino, a Frum artist, built the Blue Moon to preserve and glorify our New York ancestors’ way of life and does so unabashedly with a Zeydie’s accent.
In 2007 Rabbi Stone’s Chabad of the L.E.S. was displaced from the Eldridge Street Synagogue, until he prevailed upon Settenbrino to relocate to the Blue Moon. Although challenged by the difficulties of a singular hotel, Settenbrino accepted the opportunity to dedicate l’shem mitzvah a sanctuary in his museum-like edifice.
People come to daven and reflect upon a time when Jews knew who they were and dominated the Lower East Side. Yiddish culture affected American society, and in turn it was challenged by the host culture. Yiddin clutched tenaciously as their children were drawn into a wave of assimilation.
The history of the Jewish tenants is on display, a set of Bonkers and a group of pressing irons adorn a shelf. Depression-era Green Stamps become backgrounds for themed collages created from occupants’ belongings. A 1936 schoolboy at P.S.42, Morris Adler, provides a day’s homework as he writes about horses and settlers. Periodicals, calendars, receipts and school pictures are methodically laid out.
Morris’s Talmud Torah lesson is the centerpiece of another collage about families. What does become of Morris, who has one foot in each camp?
The Blue Moon Hotel transmits soft but immutable integrations; boutique enough for a celebrity or time-honored enough for the traditional. The hotel accommodates, with Mezuzahs, keyed room entry and a breakfast assembled of kosher delicacies such as Kossar’s Bagels and Gertel’s pastries.
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