"Please let me thank you for your thoughtful and inspired arrangements to have Elissa Sampson provide a tour of the Bialystoker Synagogue for me on 18 September 2013. As you are aware, Elissa is remarkably and singularly knowledgeable about the rather specialized and celestial elements of the murals, as well as about the rest of synagogue. Her perspective is the product of her own research and her disciplined judgment about the cultural landscape in which the synagogue developed. It was a delight to meet her and have the benefit of her knowledge and analysis. She was very generous with her time and her considerable knowledge. I shall be preparing for publication the "Stars on the Ceiling" paper I presented at the American Museum of Natural History in July, and I now plan to include a short paragraph that documents the presence of zodiac and sky imagery at Bialystoker Synagogue. I shall reference Elissa as the source of the information. I would not have had this remarkable opportunity to see the synagogue and learn a great deal more about its history and use had you not worked so quickly and effectively on my behalf. I am in your debt. Astronomically enriched, "
- Ed Krupp Dr. E.C. Krupp, Director, Griffith Observatory
"The Ivriyon is a 4-week long, intensive Hebrew immersion program for teachers in Jewish Day Schools who wish to improve their Hebrew skills in order to be able to teach their Judaics classes in Hebrew. Pessie's tour fit perfectly into our program. It was a wonderful opportunity for our participants to learn about Jewish history in New York City, enjoy a walk, see beautiful places and practice their Hebrew all at the same time. Pessie was warm, knowledgeable, and engaging. She has the Hebrew of someone who has heard and spoken Hebrew her entire life, and it was a good experience for many of our participants to see that Pessie - an American like them - can give such a fascinating tour while speaking only Hebrew. Kol hakavod! Everyone enjoyed the tour and we learned a lot. Please thank Pessie again on my behalf; she did a fabulous job."
- Miriam Meir, Ivriyon Program director, The Jewish Theological Seminary
"AJC NY was pleased to partner with The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy for our 21st Diplomatic Tour of Jewish New York. The tour provided over 100 lay leaders and diplomats—from over 30 countries—an illuminating and enjoyable peek into the history, culture and modern day vibrancy of one corner of the LES. The Conservancy was a pleasure to work with whose guides where knowledgeable of the area and provided fascinating glimpse of Jewish New York's history and contemporary life."
- Michael Schmidt, Director AJC NY
On Sunday I took the tour of the Bialystoker Synogogue and surroundings with Paul Weissman. It was far more than I expected. Not only was it informative, but Mr. Weissman seemed to really care about what he was imparting and he did so with humor and enthusiasm. It was a pleasure and a terrific way to learn. Thank you for the excellent tour and thank Mr. Weissman for doing such a good job.
- Carole Teller
We had a wonderful time yesterday - the whole tour was totally on target. It really helped connect the work we do everyday without collective history. We really enjoyed it!! You are such a wealth of knowledge and insight.
- Shana Shoshannah D. Frydman, Director, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
Thanks you again form making my class's visit to the Lower East Side so memorable. It was an eye-opening and throughly enjoyable trip for all of my studetns - both undergraduates and adult learners. Many of the undergrads described it as "a life time opportunity." You did a fantastic job. I can't tell you how appreciative I amo f all that you did to make the day so special. Enclosed please find a personal contribution to the LESJC in recognition of all that you do to help bring the Jewish Lower East Side alive!
- Dr. Ellen Umansky, prof. of history at Fairfield College, Connecticut
The tour was a huge success. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the informative and extremely well planned tour. The Kehila Kedoshah Janina was perhaps the highlight. Jai did a great job and pointed out many spots that I never knew about even though I have lived in NYC for more than 50 years. Thanks so very much for everything.
Despite the weather we had a great time. Jai was engaging and informative. I think the highlight for most was Kehila Kedosha Janina. What a wonderful space. The entire reunion was very successful and for sure, The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy's tour on Thursday was a big contribution to the success. We thank you for your efforts and wish you continued success in your efforts in the Lower East Side.
Thank you for arranging a great tour for us today. We all enjoyed the tour. Tour guide Jerry Reich was terrific, very informative and well versed about his neighborhood. Each part of the journey through the Lower East Side revealed so much about our Jewish heritage in the beginning years as well as thrughout the years.
Since I'm new to New York and fascinated by its history, I immediately signed up for several tours with the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy. I wanted to go beyond the experiences provided by the other organizations to learn more about our Jewish heritage in New York. I had no idea that Jewish history here went back to the Dutch era and have been fascinated to see the sites connected to that period.
Similarly, walking the streets of "Jewish Harlem" with the immensely knowledgeable guide opened my mind to so many different ways of being Jewish, and it great fun to see homes of famous cultural icons from the early 20th century. These tours have been literally grounding for this newcomer, and I look forward to attending more. Thank you.
- Rena Tobey
Just a thank you for a wonderful and informative [walking tour of Second Avenue]. Elissa was unbelievably knowledge and her enthusiasm was contagious.
- Mona Schwartz
"The [Bialystoker Synagogue] tour was great, and tour guide Jai was wonderful. My people really enjoyed it."
- Reverend David Gaeth
"I and a group of four friends had the Bialystoker the Beautiful walking tour with Jay Zion on Sunday and I wanted to give him a big thank you. We had a really wonderful experience. Jay was perfect for our insterests and answering all of our questions. He was so knowledgable about the area's complete history as well as the Jewish history. We saw places that we never would have noticed or been allowed in to on our own. And we really appreciated him coming out on such a cold day to do this with us. He dropped us off at the Noah's Ark Deli and it was exactly what we were craving. Again, many thanks to the Conservancy and Jay and we'll probably be taking another tour in the future."
- Mary Pound, Alexandria, VA
"We were 5 New York ladies that learned so much of our heritage, We visited lower east side landmarks and heard the stories of our ancestors from Lori and Paul Weissman. Our guides were passionate, knowledgeable, informative, and entertaining... in short we had such a memorable day! We expect to come back for more!!!!! Your work is very important, highlighting our beginnings in the U.S. and some of the many trials and tribulations faced by our people. We must learn, remember and tell the stories for those generations after us. Your organization keeps those stories alive. We all thank you for our wonderful experience, for Lori and Paul, and for such a well run organization."
- Linda Ludwig
"The only Lower East Side tour that gets you past the front door! The LESJC showcases the vibrancy of the Lower East Side."
- Steven Klein, Director of Domestic Missions, NYC-UJA-Federation
"I felt like I was with a big, warm, Jewish family."
-Testimonial from Annual Noshing Tour
"I cannot recommend the LESJC tours too highly! My groups still talk of their great guides, the fantastic synagogue interiors, and the rich cultural and religious history they experienced on the Lower East Side."
-Urban Historian Justin Ferate, Founder of Tours of the City
"People pulled me aside to tell me what a great experience it was, how much they learned, how meaningful it was, etc. And…they got a piece of ruggalah and some say the best pickle they have ever had. That's saying something - these people know their pickles."
-Nancy Clayman, Director, Fundraising & Associates Membership/Hadassah Fundraising Division
"Conservancy tours will enrich your life by connecting you to the Jewish heritage of the Lower East Side."
- Historian Joyce Mendelsohn, author, The Lower East Side, Remembered & Revisited—History and Guide to a Legendary New York Neighborhood, Lower East Side Press, 2001.
"My husband and I had the opportunity to take a comprehensive tour of the Lower East Side booked through the Conservancy. Lori Weissman was our guide for most of the tour and she was extraordinary. Neither of us had family background relationships with the Lower East Side of New York but we felt such emotion and connection to the area and its history because of Laurie."
"In spite of the 'rain on our parade,' we thoroughly enjoyed our Lower East Side tour. It was an opportunity to connect with our relatives and get a sense of their lives and experiences. Kudos to the staff of the Conservancy for the caring attention and guidance that contributed so much to the success of our day. The wealth of knowledge and information provided by our tour guides was truly awesome and yes, we must mention their warm, friendly personalities. We arrived home slightly wet, very happy with bags of bialys. It was a great day."
"I found this to be a fascinating experience. We loved hearing about the history of the synagogues and of the neighborhood. Thank you!"