How may of us in 2016 are fortunate enough to remember the sights, sounds, aromas and tastes of the noisy streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side; that old world famous for it’s small shops with sidewalk displays and pushcarts laden with everything from socks and shamatteh, pickles and penny candy? As a child it was far from the manicured streets of midtown Manhattan and world away from my native Queens, but always a special treat to accompany my Aunt Sissy on one of her trips to “look around for a few this and thats.” On one of these may trips I had my first taste of a garlicky sour dill pickle hand-picked from a wooden barrel filled with murky brine, cellophane-wrapped halvah from a huge cut from a huge chunk, an egg cream when we needed to rest our feet.
The memories from walking these streets during the 1930s was so vivid for Ruby G. Strauss that she decided to create a series of charming miniature dioramas depicting scenes of everyday life from this quintessential Manhattan neighborhood. Ms. Strauss began her passion for collecting miniatures and dollhouses in 1988 after the birth of her first granddaughter as an attempt to recreate visions from her personal experiences as part of her legacy to her grandchildren and future generations. Many of her dioramas contain the details of traditional Jewish life between the 1930s and 1950s. These include a butcher shop complete with salamis hanging from string proudly displayed in the front window, a neighborhood grocer selling pickles in wooden barrels, a dining room of a typical apartment showing a traditional family Passover Seder and a street scene complete with pushcarts overflowing with fresh vegetables along with many of Ms. Strauss’s treasured family photographs.
Her collection of these Lower East Side visions have been curated into the collection “Pickles and Egg Cream: A Peek Into the Miniature World of Ruby G. Strauss.” This collection is a proud part of the 5,000 square foot Dorfner Judaica Museum on the 19-acre campus of the Hebrew Home for the Aged in the residential Riverdale section of The Bronx, New York.
The Hebrew Home is a state-of-the-art nursing facility, home to nearly 1,000 residents in facilities ranging from nursing care to assisted living and together with the facility’s other short-term, day and respite care programs serves more than 3,000 persons each year. The Dorfner Judaica Museum (a member of the Americana Alliance of Museums) comprises more than 1,400 Jewish ceremonial objects and other works of art from contemporary artists, all highlighting Jewish art and culture.
ABOUT RUBY STRAUSS
Ruby G. Strauss Studied Hebrew literature and edited Hebrew texts. She was an editor and writer for Behrman House, a Hebrew publishing company, in Springfield, N.J. before retiring after 20 years in 1998. She attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., then earned a B.A. in education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., before earning an M.A. from N.Y.U. in Hebrew literature. She was a member of the U.J.A. Ms. Strauss passed away in February 2016 in West Palm Beach FL where she had been living for the past 12 years.
ABOUT D. THOMAS FINE MINIATURES
D. Thomas Fine Miniatures is an online and in-store retail destination featuring artisan dollhouses and top quality collectibles including 1/12th scale furniture and accessories. The shop also offers workshops and classes taught by master artisans.
The concept, designed to appeal to collectors, crafters and enthusiasts at all skill levels and abilities, was created, in part, to raise awareness of miniatures as a decorative art form and to introduce the discipline not only to a new generation but to those who may just be discovering it!
The shop also features a gallery space showcasing works in miniature by well-known artists from all over the world.
D. Thomas Fine Miniatures is located at 579 Warburton Avenue in the village of Hastings-on-Hudson NY. Gallery and shop hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from Noon to 5:00 pm. Evening hours are available by appointment.
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