At 5pm on a cold Friday evening, a couple dozen men, most wearing black suits, walk towards a red brick, four-story building near Clinton Street on East Broadway. On the facade next to the entrance, large, dark-red and white marks suggest painted-over graffiti. The men do not seem to notice. Above them is a painted sign in Yiddish. Some briefly kiss the fingers of their right hand after touching the mezuzah affixed to the doorpost. As they pass through the narrow entrance, they also enter the Shabbat, the holiest day of the week for observant Jews.
The building at 233 East Broadway now houses a couple of small shtiebels, Jewish prayer rooms, much like others in a row of several, tiny Orthodox synagogues along the same block, a remnant of what was once the largest concentration of Jews in the United States.