The Lower East Side’s Jewish Heritage Today

As the port of arrival for thousands of Jewish immigrants from around the world, New York City is one of the great centers of Jewish culture.  Upon arriving to New York, many Jewish immigrants originally settled in the Lower East Side, where a unique culture developed.  Kosher food shops were on every corner, synagogues filled up every Sabbath and a thriving Yiddish theater district attracted Jew and Gentile alike.  While the Lower East Side’s Jewish culture thrived in the first half of the 20th century, in the aftermath of World War 2 it started to fade rapidly, as Jewish families left the crowded tenements of lower Manhattan to the suburbs.  Many of the old businesses and landmarks of the Lower East Side’s Jewish heritage have since closed their doors, several of them are still around today.  Listed below are some of the more recognizable of these places, that have stood the test of time to become landmarks for New York City as a whole:

Russ and Daughters

Russ and Daughters: Founded by immigrant Joel Russ in 1914, this counter shop has served as a temple for smoked fish.  Their lox has been drawing devotees for generations, and to this day is considered to be one of New York City’s very best.  It earned its current name in 1933, when Joel Russ made his three daughters partners in the store.  The place is still in the Russ family, and as of last year, two of his daughters, 92 and 100 years old, were still alive, although since retired from the fish smoking business.

Sammy's Roumanian Dani Luv

Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse: Located in what seems to be a basement on Christie Street, walking into Sammy’s feels like you’re walking into a time portal, an old-school New York bar mitzvah from the 1940s.  The menus are covered in schmaltz stains, the portions are generous to say the least, the walls are covered with countless photos and entertainer “Dani Luv” spends the night pulling his schtick of live music and borscht-belt humor.  All in all, a dinner at Sammy’s is the start of a wildly fun night.

Katz's Delicatessen

Katz’s Deli: Arguably one of the most instantly-recognizable New York icons, Katz’s has been open since 1888 thanks to their tireless commitment to high-quality kosher-style eats.  While they have no shortage of great things to offer, arguably Katz’s crown jewel is its pastrami, and serves 10,000 pounds of it every week.

Bialystoker Synagogue interior

Bialystoker Synagogue: The Bialystoker Synagogue has its origins in a congregation founded in 1865 by recent immigrants from the city of Bialystok in present-day Poland.  It relocated to its current location in 1905 after the congregation purchased the building from a Methodist church.  Built in 1826, it is the oldest building used as a synagogue in New York City.

Kossar's Bialys

Kossar’s Bialys: While Kossar’s has what is considered one of New York’s best bagels, it’s their bialy, a variant of the bagel, that is their crown jewel.  The bialy is like a bagel, except with a fluffier texture and instead of a hole in the middle, there’s a depression, which is filled with dice onions and other ingredients.  Although Kossar’s has been in operation since 1936, its current owners, Evan Giniger and David Zablocki, are part of a modern movement to revive Jewish cuisine and culture in the Lower East Side.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum: Between 1863 and 1935, this building at 97 Orchard Street housed an estimated 7,000 people from over 20 nations.  Abandoned for over 50 years, when it caught the interest of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in 1988 it had become a time capsule, reflecting 19th and early 20th century living conditions.  You can now take various tours of the museum, which reflect on the lives of the Jewish, Irish and German immigrants who once called the building home.

Yonah Schimmel Alex Wolfman

Yonah Schimmel: While many hot dog stands in New York City sell square fried knishes, Yonah Schimmel’s specializes in the more “traditional” knish, round, baked and doughy and filled with a variety of fillings (potato, sweet potato, kasha, vegetable and broccoli to name a few).  Starting out as a pushcart in the early 1890s, the bakery has been in the same location since 1910, family-owned and stubbornly using the exact same recipes that the bakery’s namesake did.  If you’re not in New York City, you can use their website to order knishes, that will ship overnight to anywhere in the US.

Finding Religion, 10 Commandments of Judaism

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Faith and religion play an extremely important role in the lives of so many people all around the world. During a very critical time in my life, I found Judaism, which helped me gain a greater understanding of the world and get more meaning out of life.

Jewish people believe in the Torah, which is the whole of the laws given to the Israelites at Sinai. They believe they must follow God’s laws which govern daily life. There are a three basic groups of Jewish people who each have a different understanding of the interpretation of the Torah. I have been practicing Orthodox Judaism, which adheres to the interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah. Orthodox Jews believe that both the Torah and Oral Torah are authoritative and fixed regarding Jewish doctrine and observance. Conservative and Reform Jews have differing interpretations of the religion within a modern context.

There are Ten Commandments, written in the Torah, which help provide a look into many of the guiding principles of the religion. The commandments include:

First Commandment (Exodus 20:2): I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Second Commandment (Exodus 20:3-6): You shall have no other gods beside Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them, for I, the Lord Your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Third Commandment (Exodus 20:7): You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11): Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord Your God, in it you shall not do any manner of work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day. Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:12): Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord God gives you.

Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13): You shall not murder.

Seventh Commandment (Exodus 20:13): You shall not commit adultery.

Eighth Commandment (Exodus 20:13): You shall not steal.

Ninth Commandment (Exodus 20:13): You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:14): You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.


Baby Boomers’ “Financial Exceptionalism”

Plenty has been written about the challenges that baby boomers face while heading into baby boomersretirement.  And now, researchers by JP Morgan Asset Management have shown that boomers have quadrupled their aggregate net worth since the late 1980s through an extended period of economic growth and stability during their peak earning years.  According to research released last week, the average boomer household own $253,000 of assets, 75% of them nonfinancial.

The study looks at how baby boomers’ balance sheets got to where they are today, which assets account for the growth in their wealth and what younger generations need to do if they hope to be as wealthy when they retire.  The massive accumulation of assets by baby boomers, and its impact on the lives of younger generations, is referred to as baby boomers’ “financial exceptionalism”.  Boomers are entering retirement much better off than their parents, and most likely the next generation as well.  Consider that the median household net worth for the young-to-middle aged members of Generation X has declined significantly when compared with that of similar households 20 years ago.  According to the paper, those between 35 and 44 years old today have an average net worth of $47,000, compared with $102,000 for those of a similar age 25 years ago.

The paper said that lower current income growth and expected asset returns have implied that the necessary savings rate for younger households to match the breadth of boomer balance sheets was enormous.  This would force younger generations to modify saving and investment behaviors and adjust their wealth expectations.  Nonetheless, baby boomers are still not off the hook.  They can’t rely on just financial assets, which make up just a third of the growth of their total assets, to support their current levels of consumption in retirement.

If you’d like to learn more, click here!

The Best Way to Talk about Life Insurance


Option5Talking about life insurance can often times be a tricky and uncomfortable subject with people. In fact, a majority of the public are uninsured simply because they do not want to have a discussion about the idea of death. But why does this talk have to be so difficult? Shouldn’t everyone want to be advised about how to further better prepare for the future? While this is true, one thing you need to understand is the emotional mindset people associate with life insurance. Once you are able to get into this perspective, then you will be able to provide the most educational information for your clients.

When selling life insurance, you want to enter in the mindset of an educator and teacher. Treat every client as a blank slate. Most case scenarios, clients are either unaware or uninterested in life insurance. Your first job is to grab their attention. Like any sales representative, you need a way to have them listen. Forcing a group of people in a room to listen to you speak for fifteen minutes is not the most effective way to pull clientele. The best was is to hook them with a strong introduction. Start off with a variety of questions or even tell a story. The more relatable the introduction is to the person, the more interested people will get.

Once you have established a strong introduction, it is time for you to talk about life insurance. During this process, it is important that you are both informative and relatable. To be relatable, you want to keep in mind that some of the information may be too complex for people to understand. Simplifying this information in more relatable concepts can really hold the attention of the entire group. Do not mistake this for not providing any information. Life insurance is a very complex topic that needs to be broken down before someone can make a commitment. Providing this information, in the most simplistic understandable way, will keep the attention and interest of your customers.

As you present your information, make sure you are also personable and honest. The topic about death can be a very taboo discussion. Relating your own experiences and the value that life insurance brought to your life can ease people’s tension. Even if you have not had a personal experience with life insurance, talk about the securities it can have for the people you care about. Create hypothetical examples of why life insurance is necessary and why they should get it for themselves.

Last but not least, answer all questions. Many people still have a variety of questions about how the overall process works and what they should do if they want to start, continue, or transfer from one life insurance to the next. To do this, it would be in your best interest to stay an additional ten to twenty minutes just in case there are a few people who want to talk to you. Also, do not be afraid in approach people individually if they have any questions. Sometimes, people will reframe from asking their question because they are timid in speaking in front of a large group of people. This will give you an opportunity to continue educating those who want to learn more and also potentially gain a client.

Why you Need Life Insurance When you are Young

life-insuranceIn today’s modern age, the idea of exploring and traveling has become incredibly prevalent within many young professions in their early twenties to their mid-to-late thirties. As exciting as traveling can be, we must also understand the dangers one could get from those trips. Even if it is a quick weekend trip in the woods, you never know what could happen.

If you are single, it would be to your best interest to start thinking about life insurance. Now I know what many of you are thinking. You don’t have the financial responsibilities of another person or life. You want to use that money for something more gratifying. You do not plan on dying any time soon. While all of these are true, life insurance is used more than just a tool to keep your family financial stable during the loss of a love one; in fact, it provides you with many advantages especially at a young age.

debtjpg-8025cd82f36e31a6Pay off your debts:

As a young professional, many of you are beginning to assimilate into adulthood by purchasing your first car, home, or even credit card. Unless you have been paying in full, many of you have begun accruing debt in the most reasonable way possible. However, if something were to happen to you, your life insurance would be able to financially fund your various debt leaving you’re parents or guardians free from the financial burden.

Locking in a good life insurance rate:

At a young age, you can get an affordable life insurance plan at a very reasonable cost. Locking that rate in a long-term policy can be advantageous especially in the future if you are going to get married or going to have children. Imagine buying a 30-year term life insurance policy. For those thirty years, you will be paying the same amount as the price you purchased it. This will provide you incredible coverage and a financial safety net to alleviate you of any extreme situations.

papercutoutsHelping the family

Life insurance delivers additional features that provide legacy planning for your immediate family members. Imagine how many people can benefit from your policy. It is of course hard to conceptualize, but that is what it is when you are planning for the future. You need to begin thinking about the unknowns and the worst-case scenarios to better protect you and your love ones even if you do not have a family of your own. Your policy could do a variety of things. They can send someone in your family to college, they can pay off your parent’s expenses, or they can even contribute to a cause or charity that you are passionate about. Regardless of how it is used, it will create a lasting legacy for your name.

6 Quick Facts About Life Insurance

family-593188_640Life Insurance can be a tricky topic and often times people are not really sure what they should be buying when it come to a life insurance plan. This misunderstanding has led to a significant portion of the population being left uncovered or inadequately covered by their life insurance plans. I found this great article which outlines some myths of life insurance that I thought would be important to share. Hopefully these facts below will help you understand the true reality of life insurance and how you can best protect you and your family.

1) Group life insurance coverage through work is not always enough. Although rates can be lower through group coverage, people insuraged only through group life insurance have the lowest average amount of coverage and often need supplemental coverage.

2) If you lose your job then you lose the life insurance coverage provided through your employer. While some states require providers to offer the option of rolling over term coverage into an individual policy, not all states do. Make sure that if you lose your job that you ensure you are properly covered going forward.

3) Most people think that when the have their first kid is when they need to purchase life insurance. However, 72% of married workers actually have life insurance and just 75% of married couples with young children have life insurance.

4) Many people think that you have to pay taxes on the death benefit from a life insurance policy, however, in almost all situations, benefits paid upon death are not taxed.

5) A common belief is that if you don’t have children then you don’t need life insurance. Life insurance is important for anyone who provides for others, regardless of if you have children or not. If you have large private student loans, you are supporting your partner or other family members, or you share a mortgage with a partner, then life insurance is a good idea. For those with children, however, a life insurance policy should be a necessity.

6) Most people are offered life insurance plans through their employer. In fact, 56% of all workers had group life insurance coverage through their employers in 2010.

One Combo, Please

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Paying for long-term care always raises the question: “Is it really better to be safe than sorry?” For many people, this kind of insurance would be immensely valuable if they ever found themselves in need of a nursing home, assisted living, or palliative care. Proponents may try to scoop up these policies no matter what, with the familiar kafkaesque chorus of “better have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” However, there’s a mighty cost issue. If you never need this type of attention or treatment, then you have, quite frankly, wasted thousands of dollars. Luckily, Orange County Register’s Barbara Marquand reports on a policy that combines long-term care with life insurance.


Basically, these combination packages allow you to take the safe route, as your money goes towards long-term care not generally offered by Medicare or health insurance. If you don’t actually wind up using these benefits (or if you don’t max them out), the policy will pay out a benefit to your beneficiary. Marquand provides a very understandable breakdown in her article, but as you’re reading this, keep in mind the key takeaways:

  • The average cost of these policies is around $75,000, and the benefits of long term care are several more than your premium payments.
  • The long-term payout and the beneficiary’s payments will be in some sort of equilibrium. The less long-term care you receive, the more money is paid in the death benefit, and vice versa.
  • Your current state of health will play a role in the overall cost for coverage, or whether you can receive it at all. Some issuers require a physical, for example.


Although these combination policies offer a number of benefits– like acting as solid investment and potential money back guarantees– keep in mind that they are expensive. That $75k includes the long-term care, so if you don’t actually think you’ll need it, you’re probably better off passing over the combination for a life insurance-only policy. In that case, it is better to search for a more traditional life insurance policy. It is also ill-advised to opt for a combination plan if you are only in need of temporary life insurance. Lastly, if getting this combination means going broke, stay away. There’s no need to risk everything when you’re not even sure if you’ll need the offerings.


Marquand parts with a few words of advice for those who may decide on the combination. In addition to comparing quotes from various agencies, definitely be sure to look into their financial strength ratings. You don’t want to wind up depending on your policy if they can’t pay out!