I just got back from a week in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico where my Annual folklore Society meeting took place. I participated in a forum on Museums and Community Outreach. I presented my work with the Chinese Community and the Museum’s annual Eggroll and Egg cream festival. Most of our programs deal with the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe at the turn of last century but we do work with the Chinese community (the Museum is in the middle of deep Chinatown) in our school programs as well as some of our adult programs.
Getting back to the office work after being with my “folks” was inspiring and after meeting with my director and deputy director about the conference, I started to plow through my emails. Although the fall season (which starts in September and ends in December) was all in place, we had a few late season additions: I got forwarded an email from my director about a book being published on Jewish antiques and the author proposed doing a Jewish road show of sorts at the Museum. The book is about to be published and he wanted to set up shop, sell books and for anyone who purchases a book, he would evaluate an item. I had wanted to do a program like this for a while so I contacted the author, spoke with him and found a date for him to appear at the Museum. Happily, Chanukah this year falls during one of our busiest weeks. The weeks of Christmas and New Year’s are crazy busy at Eldridge Street in a good way (we tend to have about 300 people a day during this time). The author is hoping to sell many books for Chanukah gift giving and we are hopeful that in addition to tourists, local people would make their way to the Museum with their totchkas to be evaluated. In addition, the author wanted to bring some of his Judaica to have on display before and during the event. I met with our archivist and talked about how we might accommodate him. After a flurry of emails with photos and dimensions, it turns out his items could fit in our display cases and we set a date for delivery of the items and preparation for their installation.
My deputy director (Amy) and I also wanted to plan some special programs for those busy weeks in December. In addition to our regular tour of the space, we will be offering walking tours of the Jewish Lower East Side, hot cider all week and a few rugelach- making workshops led by the both of us. We offered the rugelach workshops last year and they were very successful. We both love to bake but neither of us is a professional baker and we stress that the workshops are heimish (Yiddish for down-home). Also, although we have an oven in the Museum, it is slow so once the rugelach is made, the visitors have to wait a bit for them to bake. We give them a tour of the space and then bag the rugelach for them.
The kitchen is tiny at Eldridge Street and we don’t have any equipment, so the rugelach are all hand-made which makes the dough a little harder to work. Amy and I plotted out times for practice dough making and presentation time as neither one of has made them since last year.
Our administrative offices are in Soho (courtesy of a generous board member) so after working all these logistics out, Amy and I walked the 20 minutes to the Museum to check in with the staff located there, (education and visitors service) and to talk with them about the updated December programs and organize everyone’s schedules.
As well, Amy and I had to attend a reception after work for Kosher Fest at the nearby Streit’s Matzoh Factory and needed promotional items that are stored at the Museum (brochures and pamphlets). We had to make more signs and get email lists together, for an informational table at the reception. We got our bags of Eldridge Street information together and walked to Streits (located on Rivington Street, about 10 minutes away) and set up shop. We met local kosher food purveyors and talked with various owners about potential setting up food demonstrations or having booths either at Eggrolls and Egg creams or at our winter festival in early February. People were very warm and receptive and very generous with the nosh. Although it was a late day and I was still tired from my trip to New Mexico, I was very happy we attended.