Set to open to the public on September 13, the exhibit will feature historic photos of the store and family, previously unheard audio clips, and an appetizing counter photo opp.

By Bridget Hallinan
September 10, 2019
The Washington Post/Getty Images

As far as New York institutions go, Russ & Daughters is pretty iconic. The legendary Jewish appetizing shop has been in the city for 105 years, passed down through four generations of the Russ family—it has some of the best smoked and cured fish in the city. The legacy all started with one shop in the Lower East Side, before Josh and Niki Russ (founder Joel Russ’ great-grandchildren) opened Russ & Daughters Cafe a few years ago, and Russ & Daughters subsequently expanded with new locations at the the Jewish Museum and Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2016 and 2019, respectively. To celebrate the legacy of the shop and its impact on New York, the American Jewish Historical Society has organized an exhibit showcasing how Russ & Daughters balanced innovation with tradition, establishing Jewish food as a New York City staple—enter “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story,” which will open to the public at the Center for Jewish History on September 13. 

“For generations, my family has worked tirelessly to represent the Jewish immigrant community and add our own traditions to New York’s food culture. This is now iconic New York food, and Russ & Daughters is quintessential New York,” Josh Russ Tupper, fourth generation Co-Owner of Russ & Daughters, said in a statement. “We’re honored to have our family’s history preserved at one of the foremost archives in the country.”

Caviar tins featured in the exhibit.
Courtesy of the Center for Jewish History.

The exhibit, which will be free and open to the public, is organized into five main sections in the Center for Jewish History’s  Great Hall. Four are dedicated to a generation in the Russ & Daughters business, while the fifth and final section is a replica of the famous appetizing counter, with a backdrop depicting the shop to match—guests are encouraged to try on a Russ & Daughters white coat and pose behind it for a photo opp. Throughout the other sections of the exhibit, guests can also expect “previously-unheard audio clips from the second generation Hattie Russ Gold and Anne Russ Federman, known as the “‘Sturgeon Queens,’” historic photographs, and posters featuring Yiddish theater performers Molly Picon and Aaron Lebedoff, who were regulars at the shop. These Russ family archive pieces will be displayed alongside items from the AJHS collection, such as photos from the Lower East Side taken between 1932-1934, and a collection of high holiday tickets from synagogues across the boroughs.

As an added personal touch, there will also be three café tables set up in the exhibit, where visitors can fill out cards sharing their own family food stories—the cards will then be collected and stored in the AJHS archives. If you’re interested in attending, “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story” will run through January 2020. 

“Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story” opens to the public September 13 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011.

Advertisement