This section of the Lower East Side, Eldridge Street between Canal and Division, was once the home of a thriving community of Eastern European Jews. In 1887, they constructed the jewel of their block – the Eldridge Street Synagogue, an imposing Moorish-style building with a vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, ornate brass fixtures, hand-painted murals and a velvet-lined ark.
Over time, the center of New York Jewish life moved elsewhere and the area began to fill with immigrants from other areas, primarily China. The Synagogue’s congregation dwindled, the operating budget became smaller and the building fell into disrepair. As a tiny group of worshippers hung on, the roof caved in, the walls crumbled and the entire structure neared collapse. Then, in the late 1980s, historians and community activitists “discovered” the building and formed the Eldridge Street Project, Inc., determined to restore and preserve this landmark.
Today, with the restoration project well underway, the Eldridge Street Project is sponsoring the 4th Annual Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Block Party. This unique event celebrates the evolving culture and traditions of this densely-packed community with nods to both its Jewish heritage and its Chinese present.
The block party features the language, arts, music, dance and foods of both cultures, including mah jong lessons, a Chinese calligrapher and a Jewish scribe, arts and crafts, performances in Yiddish and Chinese, and, of course, delicious home made kosher egg rolls (a fried variation of the classic Chinese spring roll which contains no egg) and egg creams (a traditional New York soda fountain drink which contains no egg).
How to Make an Egg Cream according to Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup
1. Take a tall, chilled, straight-sided, 8 oz. glass.
2. Spoon 1 inch of U-Bet Chocolate Syrup into glass.
3. Add 1 inch whole milk.
4. Tilt the glass and spray seltzer (from a pressurized cylinder only) off a spoon to make a big chocolate head.
5. Stir, drink, enjoy.