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Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli

Ted Merwin

Author Dr. Ted Merwin will present a lively and entertaining talk on the rise, fall, and rise again of the Jewish deli and its role in American Jewish life, “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli.”  For much of the twentieth century, the New York Jewish deli was an iconic institution in both Jewish and American life. As a social space it rivaled—and in some ways surpassed—the synagogue as the primary gathering place for the Jewish community. Ultimately, upwardly mobile American Jews discarded the deli as they transitioned from outsider to insider status in the middle of the century. Now contemporary Jews are returning the deli to cult status as they seek to reclaim their cultural identities.

Ted Merwin, Ph.D. is a well-known professor, blogger, journalist, humorist, collector and public intellectual. Ted is one of the foremost authorities on Judaism in America. He is the author of two acclaimed books: In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture and Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, winner of the 2015 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Education and Jewish Identity.  Pastrami on Rye has been featured in USA Today, New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, New York Observer, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, The Economist, Times Literary Supplement, London Jewish Chronicle, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Time Out Tel Aviv, The Daily Beast, Tablet, Forward, New York Jewish Week, and on radio and TV nationwide, including The John Batchelor Show, PRI’s “The World” with Marco Werman and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”  Ted has given more than 100 entertaining, multimedia lectures over the last several years, including at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in L.A., the Spertus Institute in Chicago, the Department of Homeland Security at JFK, the FDIC in Washington, D.C., and at universities, synagogues, JCCs, libraries, book festivals, and museums from coast to coast.  For more information visit


The lecture is sponsored by Ithaca College’s Jewish Studies Program and is free and open to the public.  For more information, please contact Rebecca Lesses, Coordinator of Jewish Studies, at or (607) 274-3556. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact her by email or phone. We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible

Time and Place
March 21, 2018, 7:30 pm
Textor 102 on the Ithaca College campus