Sixth Street Community Center

638 East 6th Street
NY
10009,

Sixth Street Community Center

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Sixth Street Community Center -- the former epicenter for EarthCelebrations and now for Community Supported Agriculture -- is housed in one of two former synagogues, Ahawath Yeshurun Shar'a Torah at 638 East 6th Street. If it is open, it is well worth entering but not only because it has an organic café and is the local Community Supported Agriculture site. The original memorial plaques have been lovingly restored and been cojoined with murals commemorating the neighborhood’s labor history and resilient spirit. There is also a mural whose caption reads “this neighborhood ain’t ready to give up the ghost” a reference to the Lower East Side being reclaimed through gardening, homesteading, squatting and other organizing efforts. Next door is a Pentecostal church housed in another former synagogue (originally a twin building with brick gingerbread on top).

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Sixth Street Community Center, formerly AhawathYeshurun Shaare Torah Synagogue

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This building has the best neighborhood memorials to famous labor activists, Emma Goldman (anarchist and social critic) and Clara Lemlich (teen-age leader of the 1909 Strike of 20,000). The recently restored traditional marble memorial plaques have names from 3 languages, Yiddish, Hebrew and English and form the base for murals from which the activists spring to life. Goldman's caption reads: “She spoke wrote and conspired. Opposed the state, religion and capitalism. She fought for ... the 8 hour day. Worked as a seamstress and midwife, loved dancing and theater...”. The muralists’ work seems particularly fitting in a neighborhood where recycled memory and its associations have become a type of currency, a part of its evolution into the New, Old Country (in Yiddish, the Naye Alte Heym). Today the building has an active Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), along with a variety of youth programs. The building housed the EarthCelebrations garden pageant for many years. Photo by Elissa Sampson

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