Jewish Studies


Bruce Jakubovitz, born 1956, was the son of Bronx born parents and grandson of immigrants from Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland. He lived in a three bedroom apartment with his three siblings and parents across from St. James Park. The area was predominantly Jewish, Italian, and Irish, and the kids would play in the street and hang out along the stoops on 191st Street. Growing up in a kosher, Orthodox home, Jakubovitz would go to synagogue every Saturday morning and he could not go out to play with his friends on Shabbat. Yet, all the different ethnic and religious groups got along in the neighborhood.

Both of his parents were college educated, with his dad working as a landlord and his mother staying home but active in volunteer work. Teaching was considered an acceptable occupation for his sisters, who were expected by their father to get married and start families. Jakubovitz credits this traditional viewpoint of women with the Jewish prioritization of women as preservers of the Jewish religion through upbringing of children.

Jakubovitz attended a Jewish day school in Manhattan until high school, when he attended Bronx Science. He did poorly at the yeshiva, but excelled in what he called the elite public school setting, joining clubs and sports teams. Attending New York University in 1974, he enjoyed the no restrictions and no worries feelings of the 1970’s. Then he dropped out and traveled for a year to places like California and Israel before finishing his education at Syracuse. By the late 1970’s, his parents had moved out of the Bronx because they felt the neighborhood was unsafe and there was an increase in crime. He remembers hearing about and seeing the fires in the Bronx, and felt defensive about how wonderful it was in his youth. He believes Co-op City contributed to the white flight and neighborhood turnover, but it was part of a natural evolution. Yet today, Jakubovitz believes the borough is back on the mend.

Key Words:

191st Street, Orthodox, Bronx Science, New York University, education, yeshiva, American Dream, 1970s, Co-op City, racism, white flight, pride