Only In America

The Streets Were Paved With Gold & Becoming Americans
Parts 1 and 2 of: A Journey Through the Jewish Lower East Side of New York
With Host Larry Josephson

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THE STREETS WERE PAVED WITH GOLD: A Journey Through The Jewish Lower East Side of New York, PART 1

Part I begins with the pogroms and poor economic conditions in Europe, driving over two million Jews to America from 1880 - 1921. This hour tells the story of the East European immigrant Jews who found harsh living in the crowded tenements of the Lower East Side. No gold. Jerry Stiller and Zero Mostel read from the "bintel briefs," letters to the editor of the Jewish Daily Forward seeking advice on how to adapt to strange American customs. Stories are told using a montage of oral histories, enriched with music from the period.

BECOMING AMERICANS: A Journey Through The Jewish Lower East Side of New York

Part II looks at how life on the Lower East Side transformed the new immigrants. "Greenhorn" Jews adopted the language and culture of their new country as fast as they could. They formed labor unions to improve working conditions and pay in the sweatshops of the "needle trade." Many young Jewish women were in the forefront of change. The Yiddish theater provided an escape from the daily grind; Isaiah Sheffer recalls his time as a child actor. Eventually, the children and grandchildren of the immigrants moved out of the Lower East Side to better neighborhoods and higher status, leaving behind the customs, religion and language of the old country. Part II is also filled with oral histories and music.

Read by Isaiah Sheffer, Jerry Stiller, Barbara Rosenblat, Jasmine Petraru, Stacey Brass, Fritz Weaver and Ollie Wyman.
Host and Series Producer: Larry Josephson for the Radio Foundation.
This program was produced by Sarah Elzas, Sara Porath and Larry Josephson.
The interviews were recorded by Bill Siegmund and Robert Auld.
Post production by Robert Auld and David Rapkin.

Funding from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The National Endowment for the Arts, Saul and Stanley Zabar, Edwin A. Goodman, Harvey and Thelma Reisman, The John L. Loeb, Jr. Foundation, and one anonymous donor.

Archival material supplied by The Ellis Island Oral History Collection, The Tamiment Library at NYU, The Pittsburgh Jewish Oral History Project, The Dorot Jewish Division and the Performing Arts Division of the New York Public Library, The Judaica Collection at Florida Atlantic University, The Unite Here Archives at Cornell University, Yivo, The Eldridge Street Synagogue Project and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Special Thanks to Nicki Newman Tanner.

Logo design by Bob Gill.

©(P) 2006 Radio Foundation, Inc.


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The National Endowment
for the Arts

Saul and Stanley Zabar & Zabars
Charleton and Susan Buckley
Edwin A. Goodman
Harvey & Thelma Reisman
The John L. Loeb, Jr. Foundation
The Law Firm of Fross, Zelnick, Lehrman & Zissu

Copyright (C)(P) 2004-2007 The Radio Foundation, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Logo design: Bob Gill; Web Design: Andrew Forsyth, Seth Lind and Jonathan Gulsby