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Lecture: The Jewish Deli in America

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150



Katz's Deli, New York City

In American cities, the delicatessen was the lifeblood and the linchpin of the Jewish community. (Photo Edmund V. Gillan)

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 7, 2009) -- Ted Merwin presents an interactive, multimedia lecture on the changing place of the Jewish deli in American life, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009, 7 p.m., in the Standish Room at the Science Library of the University at Albany’s uptown campus.

In New York, Baltimore, and other American cities, the delicatessen was the lifeblood and the linchpin of the Jewish community. The "soul food" and atmosphere it dished up became a quintessential part of American culture for Jews and non-Jews alike.  But as Jews moved into the suburban middle class, the deli lost its bite, giving way to other ethnic restaurants and cuisines. Can the deli be resurrected?

Merwin, an assistant professor of religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College, will show how the deli, which originated in Germany and Eastern Europe, developed in this country into a neighborhood institution on par with the synagogue. He will also discuss how the deli became an icon of both television shows and films about the Jewish experience, ranging from "When Harry Met Sally" to "The Larry David Sandwich" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The lecture, sponsored by the University at Albany Center for Jewish Studies, is free and open to the public.  Kosher refreshments will follow.

About the Center for Jewish Studies:
The Center for Jewish Studies serves as a bridge between the public and the Judaic Studies Department at the University at Albany. The Center seeks to foster greater knowledge of Jewish history, thought, culture, and languages through community outreach. The Center extends the reach of the Judaic Studies Department by supporting scholarly endeavors, teaching, and extracurricular and public programs.

For more information on the program contact Kathaleen Heinzl, University at Albany Center for Jewish Studies, (518) 442-4130,

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