NYSCA Grants in Action: Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival

Walking through the heart of Chinatown you wouldn’t except to hear Klezmer – traditional Jewish music – ringing through the neighborhood, but every June, it’s exactly the kind of cultural combination you’ll find on New York City’s Lower East Side.

For the past 17 years the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival, hosted by the Museum at Eldridge Street has brought together Chinese, Jewish and more recently Puerto Rican cultural arts and traditions.

The Museum at Eldridge Street draws a crowd for the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival

A NYSCA grantee through the Museum and Folk Arts Programs, the Museum at Eldridge Street, lives in the walls of the Eldridge Street Synagogue. They offer K-12 and adult learning programs, historic building tours, concerts, and neighborhood walking tours.

NYSCA’s Folk Arts Program supports the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival. The festival’s coordinator and the Museum’s Director of Programs, Hanna Griff- Sleven, is a trained folklorist.

“Beyond the exchange of culture is a deep feeling of community and joy that emanates from all the participants and festival goers. This is a New York Moment.” Griff- Sleven says.

If you attended this year’s festival, you might have heard Jose Ocasio with Bomba Y Plena Dura performing traditional Puerto Rican music, ending their performance by announcing the beauty of such a “New York Moment.”

Jose Ocasio with Bomba Y Plena Dura performing at the Festival on the corner of Eldridge Street and Division Street

The mission of the Museum at Eldridge Street and the Festival is, “to serve people of all backgrounds with educational and cultural programs inspired by the landmark building and its gateway Lower East Side neighborhood.”

This goal is apparent as you make your way up and down Eldridge Street, where tents have popped up and are filled with craftsman, arts activities, and of course, egg rolls, egg creams, and empanadas!

Parve (Kosher) Egg Rolls and Empanadas being served outside the Museum

When entering into the museum, visitors are immediately greeted by paper arts, one table of Jewish paper cutting and another of Chinese paper folding.

The festival is the celebration of the neighborhood, bringing together the arts of these three cultures to sit with another, to learn about each other, and show visitors, they really aren’t so different from each other, but still have their own…flavor.

This event is a long time in the making, a day which is driven by the communities which have grown up, and are just being born in the blocks surrounding the Museum at Eldridge Street.

To stay updated about the Festival and the Museum at Eldridge Street’s other programs visit  http://www.eldridgestreet.org/.


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