2008-01-18 / Community

Former Locals Featured In PBS Documentary

By Howard Schwach

Actor Zero Mostel orders some appetizing at the lower east side landmark started by the Russ Family, which once lived in Far Rockaway. Actor Zero Mostel orders some appetizing at the lower east side landmark started by the Russ Family, which once lived in Far Rockaway. When the story of the Jews of New York premiers on WLIW, Channel 21 this Sunday, some of the more prominent voices heard will be those of a family of former Rockaway residents who founded and operated a famous appetizer store on the lower east side.

"The Jews of New York" focuses on three generations of the Russ family, formerly of Rockaway, who founded the famous "Russ & Daughters Appetizers."

That focus is on Anne and Hattie, two of the namesake daughters who, with their late sister, Ida, made their father Joel's store a local attraction; Anne's son, Mark; and Mark's daughter and nephew, Nikki and Josh, who run the store today.

Their story takes the family business from a Polish immigrant selling herring out of a pushcart in 1905, to a progressive business left to three women by their father at a time when only sons would be considered for such a role, to a still-thriving local icon that has expanded to online sales, but has never moved too far from its pushcart roots.

Second-generation owner Anne Russ Federman and her husband Herb, behind the counter at Russ & Daughers Appetizer. Second-generation owner Anne Russ Federman and her husband Herb, behind the counter at Russ & Daughers Appetizer. Featured on Sunday's telecast are Anne Russ Federman, who currently lives in Pembroke Pines, Florida, but has her roots in Far Rockaway; Hattie Russ Gold, another Florida resident who comes from Far Rockaway; and Mark Russ Federman, who currently lives in Brooklyn but has his roots in Rockaway as well.

Also participating in the show, which will be aired on January 20 at 8 p.m., are former mayor Ed Koch and the writers of "Fiddler on the Roof," Joseph Stein and Sheldon Harnick.

According to Natasha Padilla, a spokesperson for the Public Broadcasting System's Channel 12, the locally focused "The Jews of New York," will supplement the network's premier showing of "The Jewish Americans," which is aired on Sundays at 9 p.m.

"The Jews of New York" profiles Jewish individuals and institutions that changed the face of New York," Padilla says. "Woven together with expert commentary, the testimony of those who lived the experience presents a broad spectrum of the ways in which the Jewish community has impacted secular New York life from the earliest immigrants to today."

Joel Russ (second from left), a Polish émigré, started the Russ & Daughters Appetizer on the lower east side, selling herring from a pushcart in 1905. He is pictured with the namesake daughters, Hattie, Ida and Anne in the 1950's. Joel Russ (second from left), a Polish émigré, started the Russ & Daughters Appetizer on the lower east side, selling herring from a pushcart in 1905. He is pictured with the namesake daughters, Hattie, Ida and Anne in the 1950's.

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