Who We Are
The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC), a not–for-profit organization in existence since 1998, is dedicated to preserving, sharing and celebrating the Jewish Heritage of the Lower East Side, the cradle, if you will, of American Jewish civilization.
Over the course of nearly two decades we have raised more than $2,000,000.000 in capital funds toward the restoration of eight sacred sites, from the smallest “tenement” style synagogues, such as Kehila Kedosha Janina or the Stanton Street Shul, to the magnificent Bialystoker Synagogue. Through these initiatives, we preserve the richness of the Lower East Side’s past, and continue to foster a thriving Jewish community in the present and, hopefully, into the future.
Featuring visits to these unique, historic sites, our private, customized ‘Insider’s’ Walking Tours and ongoing annual roster of Public Tours are celebrated by our patrons for the authenticity of the experience, and the skill and devotion of our magnificently trained cadre of tour guides. And, through our innovative touring curriculum A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN IMMIGRANT CHILD, thousands of grade school children have come to understand the unique history of the Lower East Side.
A Taste of The Lower East Side, our first fundraising gala, provides us with the thrilling opportunity to recognize four individuals whom we are very thankful to have as a part of our LESJC family. Our Guest of Honor Justin Ferate, is a tour guide extraordinaire, known throughout NYC for his remarkable knowledge of, well, almost everything associated with New York and its history! Over the years, we have counted on Justin’s wisdom as a Board of Directors member, celebrity tour guide, educator of our cadre of tour leaders, and overall cheer leader for this organization. At the end of this year, Justin will be moving out West to Santa-Fe, and his departure will leave a gaping hole in our hearts and our repertoire. He will be sorely missed!
Our other three honorees - Sarah Gurwitz, Marty Shore, and Paul Weissman, are long-time Conservancy guides whose contributions to our success cannot easily be measured. Sarah has somehow found a niche with b’nei mitzvah and confirmation classes and is in great demand to act as guide for the same groups year after year, so much do they love her tours! Although Marty tours the Lower East Side, he has become our specialist on the Upper West Side as well as Jewish Harlem, and he too has an ardent following. His booming voice and pleasant demeanor make him a joy to tour with. Lastly, Paul, who was born on the Lower East Side, and has spent all but two years of his life there, has been designated a ‘neighborhood treasure’ by our participants. The standard 2 ½ hour tour becomes something a touch rarer when he is sharing stories about his own life!
We sincerely hope that you will join us on December 18th as there is so much to celebrate…our first 18 years; saying goodbye to Justin, and thanking Sarah, Marty, and Paul for helping to make the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy a precious member of the LES Jewish community.