(New York Jewish Week) — Before we turn the page on 2022, the New York Jewish Week is looking back at the calendar year that was.
Throughout the year, Jewish New Yorkers displayed a relentless creativity, continually redefining what being Jewish can look like in this diverse city. From a for-hire “hot rabbi” to a brand new synagogue founded after a painful ouster, from a pop-up Hanukkah cocktail bar to new appreciations of the Jewish deli, there was something for everyone.
And 2022 was a crucial year for us, too: After joining the 70 Faces Media family in 2021, the New York Jewish Week took a huge step forward this year — most notably with the exciting new look we launched in February. We unveiled a new logo, fresh branding and a completely redesigned website to make our storytelling shine.
Thanks for coming along for the ride with us in 2022. Here are the stories you read the most this year.
10. A new exhibit on Jewish delis explores the roots and rise of a uniquely American phenomenon by Lisa Keys (Nov. 10)
Nothing says New York quite like an authentic Jewish deli. This November, the New-York Historical Society presented its new exhibit, “‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’: The Jewish Deli,” which traces the mouthwatering history of the Jewish deli, beginning with the first waves of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
9. Why this Holocaust survivor wears the same hand-knit sweater every Passover by Tanya Singer (March 29)
Helena Weinstock Weinrauch, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, has worn the same hand-knit sweater every Passover for the past 75 years. It was made by her friend Anne Rothman, who stayed alive during the Holocaust by knitting for Nazis while a prisoner in the Lodz Ghetto.
8. Junior’s, NYC’s iconic Jewish cheesecake emporium, buys back guns to protect the city it loves by Julia Gergely (May 27)
When Junior’s Restaurant owner Alan Rosen saw the headlines about gun violence in New York City, he “took it upon myself to do something.” Rosen worked with the New York City Police Foundation to run a gun buyback program at a local church. Rosen donated $20,000 toward the effort.
7. Rabbi ousted from Park East Synagogue announces new congregation on the Upper East Side by Julia Gergely (Feb. 16)
Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt announced his new congregation “Altneu” in February. Goldschmidt made headlines when he was abruptly fired from Park East Synagogue last year. “I feel like it is a tremendous opportunity to start a new synagogue in Manhattan; it’s not something that happens too often,” Goldschmidt told the New York Jewish Week.
6. This private, on-demand ‘hot rabbi’ may soon be the star of her own reality TV show by Julia Gergely (May 25)
Rabbi Rebecca Keren Eisenstadt — or “Rabbi Becky” as she’s known to most — is a private rabbi-for-hire for dozens of New York City families, mostly on the affluent Upper East Side. She goes by @myhotrabbi on social media, and Reese Witherspoon’s media company is making a documentary series about her life as a single rabbi looking for love.
5. Meet the bartender behind New York’s new Hanukkah-themed cocktail bar by Julia Gergely (Nov. 29)
Bartender Naomi Levy was sick of feeling like a tourist during the holiday season, so in 2018, she launched the Maccabee Bar, a Hanukkah-themed pop-up in Boston. This year, Levy brought her cocktail bar to New York City, featuring drinks like the Latke Sour (apple brandy, potato, lemon, egg white, bitters) and an Everything Bagel Martini (“everything” spiced gin, tomato water, dill, vermouth), as well Jewish- and Hanukkah-adjacent small bites, such as latkes, sufganiyot and Bamba.
4. The New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch 2022 by NY Jewish Week staff (June 28)
Our signature annual project, 36 to Watch honors remarkable Jewish New Yorkers for their contributions in the arts, religion, culture, business, politics and philanthropy. Our list of changemakers returned in 2022 — but without the age restrictions of years past. This year’s group includes athletes, storytellers, politicians, comedians and more.
3. Passengers say Lufthansa threw all visible Jews off NYC-Budapest flight because some weren’t wearing masks by Jacob Henry (May 9)
A group of Orthodox Jews was kicked off a Budapest-bound Lufthansa flight at JFK airport in May after allegedly refusing to comply with the airline’s mask mandate. A Lufthansa supervisor was seen on video saying “It’s Jews coming from JFK. Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.”
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2. New York Yankees get Jewish pitcher at MLB trade deadline by Jacob Gurvis (Aug. 1)
The New York Yankees acquired Jewish relief pitcher Scott Effross at Major League Baseball’s trade deadline this past summer. Effross, a self-described “Seinfeld enthusiast,” wears a Star of David necklace when he pitches.
1. A Holocaust survivor spends her 110th birthday knitting — the craft that was key to her survival by Tanya Singer (Jan. 26)
Rose Girone celebrated her 110th birthday in January in the most fitting way possible: by knitting. Girone’s passion for knitting has made her well known in the New York-area knitting community in recent decades, but it also played a critical role in her family’s survival earlier in her life. “Rose cannot imagine her life without knitting,” Girone’s daughter, Reha Bennicasa, 83, told the New York Jewish Week.
And here are five more stories that made an impact this year:
- An afternoon with Shayna Maydele, possibly the most Jewish dog in New York by Lisa Keys
- A Jewish group’s tip led to arrest of suspects who wanted to ‘shoot up a synagogue’ by Jacob Henry
- A moving memoir of Jewish Brooklyn, told tchotchke by tchotchke by Andrew Silow-Carroll
- Some Jews ‘do not comply’ with New York gun laws to protect their synagogues by Jacob Henry
- Marc Chagall’s Catskills house is for sale — for $240,000 by Andrew Silow-Carroll
From all of us at the New York Jewish Week, thank you for reading, and we wish you a Happy New Year! We look forward to covering the next chapter of the unfolding New York Jewish story in 2022. As always, feel free to reach out with tips, questions, or feedback, and if you’re so inclined, support our journalism.