Lower East Side Community Hero
Nominated by Lori Weissman / Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy
A true Urban Historian, with a voluminous knowledge of the area, Elissa earned her doctorate, writing a dissertation on the history of the Tenement Museum. She is a big supporter and member of the Siempre Verde Community Garden on Stanton Street. In addition, she has been very active with the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, and has helped initiate a public honoring of those who died in the fire with a Yahrtzeit Kiddush (remembrance prayer) at the Stanton Street Shul.
Elissa continues to be deeply concerned with preserving tangible evidence of the Jewish heritage of the Lower East Side through landmark designation. Her scholarly, impassioned and persuasive testimony at public hearings at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, in support of landmark designation for the Bialystoker Home and Center and the Seward Park branch of the NYC Public Library, led to unanimous votes for landmarking to preserve and protect those historic buildings. In addition, she is a strong supporter of landmark designation for a Lower East Side Historic District. She was also very active in the campaign to save the Mezericher Shul on 6th Street.
As a LES Jewish Conservancy guide, she imparts her wealth of knowledge to hundreds of people who have had the opportunity to take one of her tours, that truly take people off the ‘beaten path’ in their search for the authentic LES. People leave her tours feeling like they now have a personal stake in the future of our iconic, historic neighborhood.