Charles Fogelman’s parents came to New York City as children in the beginning of the 20th century. They were married in 1932, and his father became a doctor, fighting antisemitic quotas to go to medical school, and completing his residency at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. His father had a practice in the East Bronx, on Elder Avenue, when Fogelman was born in 1946 and he grew up in a semi-detached house nearby on Ward Avenue. He describes it as a lower-middle class, predominantly Jewish neighborhood, with Irish and Italian neighbors, and with many synagogues, so it felt very Jewish although it wasn’t completely. Bruckner Boulevard had to be crossed to walk from his side of the neighborhood to PS 93, around which there were Quonset Huts following WWII.
Fogelman describes in detail the shops and games in his neighborhood, including the significance of the Spaldeen. Most of the families in the neighborhood were immigrants, and he remembers very little tensions between the groups, although some Jews around him would speak disparagingly about non-Jewish groups. He was an SP student, and attended Bronx High School of Science. Fogelman speaks about how the teachers he had were so amazing, many with PhD’s, because during the Depression many accomplished intellectuals found jobs in the New York City public school system. This system, he explains, was essential for his success and the success of many others at Science. This was coupled with the free opportunities of the New York Public Library, museums, and other cultural centers of New York.
Fogelman attended NYU and became a doctor, but still remembers the high level of intellect at Bronx Science. Being Jewish “was in the air that you breathed” in the neighborhood, and the culture and religious ideas like keeping kosher continue to impact who he is. He has returned to the Bronx, to the Riverdale neighborhood, diagonally across the borough from his origins after many decades and feels like he never belonged anywhere else except the Bronx.
Bronx High School of Science, doctor, medical school, Italian, Irish, SP program, education, East Bronx, NYU, the Great Depression, Bruckner Expressway, Williamsburg
Maier Garcia, Sophia, "Fogelman, Charles" (2022). Bronx Jewish History Project. 25.