at Rifke's in E.N.Y.
at Pennsylvania Ave. Synagogue
& Kessler Club
Papa's trips to East New York always included stops at the Kessler Zion Club and his friend Rifke's (when last seen at her place, he was pitching a group of women on the gowns he'd just started selling on the side), though this is the first time he's mentioned the Pennsylvania Avenue Synagogue.
My uncanny powers of deductive reasoning tell me this synagogue was located on Pennsylvania Avenue, a north-south artery on the western side of East New York, not far from the "new law" tenements that had cropped up in the neighborhood since the passing of the Tenement House Act of 1901. These tenements boasted at least one bathroom for every two families and relatively plentiful windows, so Jewish immigrants, drawn by these amenities and encouraged by new subway construction, had been flocking to the area from Manhattan's Lower East Side for most of the early 1900's.
Like his bretheren, Papa must have seen East New York as a sort of promised land. Perhaps, whenever he emerged from the Pennsylvania Avenue BMT stop and beheld the surrounding wide streets and airy skies, he grew starry-eyed and dreamy and thought to himself: One day, I too will live in Brooklyn.
References for this post:
- How East New York Became a Ghetto, by Walter Thabit. Fortuitously sampled on Google Books.
- For more on "new law" tenements, check out the "Housing" chapter of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum's Encyclopedia.
BMT subway map sample from nycsubway.org.
Pennsylvania Ave. looking south, 1923. Courtesy of Brooklynpix.com. Just for laughs, here's another shot of Pennsylvania Ave. from the same source: