The Jews of New York -- A WLIW production premiering  January 23rd  on New York Public Television
Three Generations of the Russ Family

Around 1905, Joel Russ emigrated from Poland to New York’s Lower East Side and began selling herring from a pushcart, one of some 25,000 pushcart peddlers working the crowded Jewish ghetto. Joel was successful enough to open his own modest storefront in 1914. He married and had three daughters who started working in the store as children. As the girls grew into beautiful teenagers, they proved a big asset to his “appetizers” store; customers chose Russ’s shop over dozens of competitors because they enjoyed flirting with the lovely girls who pulled herring from the barrels.

In a remarkably forward thinking move for his day, Joel Russ named the girls partners, and passed the business on to them when he died. One of the daughters in turn passed Russ & Daughters Appetizers to her son, who is now in the process of passing it to his daughter and his nephew. The store is still located on the Lower East Side, and still very successful (they’ve branched out to sell lox and cream cheese, caviar and other delicacies). We interviewed three generations of the family who told us the story of their family and their store in sparkling detail.

28 Responses to “Three Generations of the Russ Family”

  1. Karen Miriam Chambliss-Abraham says:

    The Russ Family are still contributing to Jewish American History. Mazel Tov!

    Karen M.C.A. of Petaluma, California

    “Comrades and Chicken Ranchers” is the story of our small and proud Jewish Community.

  2. Barbara Herbst Bohmart says:

    you both look fantastic!!!….Russ & Daughters is a New York gem….I am a cousin of Hattie Russ Gold and the late Murray Gold

  3. Abby Earl says:

    Even though I have lived in Florida my whole life, I have grown up on Russ and Daugthers lox and love it!!!! My mother would always order lots of smoked fish around the winter holidays and it was truly one of the best gifts I got! We always visit the store whenever we’re in town and I’m just so glad to see that the business stays in the family so I know we’ll always be able to look forward to a good quality treat!

  4. SIDNEY MAIDEN says:

    RUSS & DAUGHTERS WHAT A PLACE, ITS LIKE A “BLAST FROM THE PAST” WITH AN APPETIZING STORE ON EVERY CORNER IN BROOKLYN, THE BRONX, THE LOWER EAST SIDE DOWN TO ALMOST NONE…WELL THAT HAVE GOOD QUALITY!!!! MAZEL TOV AND MANY MORE YEARS OF SUCCESS!!!!!

    I WAS IN THE KOSHER DELI/APPETIZING BUSINESS FOR OVER 37 YEARS, IN HOWARD BEACH N.Y. IT WAS MY LIFE, I LIVED, THOUGHT, WORKED, (12 HR. DAYS WERE SHORT)SLEPT, & SAW LITTLE OF MY FAMILY. I EXPANDED NEXT DOOR TO A JEWISH BAKERY THAT WENT UP FOR SALE!! IT BECAME A BAKERY/DELI CAFE WITH 40 SEATS AND 5 TRUCKS SERVING THE AREA (JFK, LGA, NEWARK, AIRPORTS AND SURROUNDING HOTELS & RESTURANTS) AFTER 37 YEARS I HAD AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT THAT CAUSED MUCH PAIN AND HAD TO SCALE BACK ON MY PHYSICAL WORK..BEFORE GRADUATION I BEGGED MY SON TO STAY WITH ME TO RUN THE BUSINESS. SEEING HOW HARD I WORKED, AND THE CHANGE OF ALL THE JEWS MOVING ON TO SOUTH FLORIDA HIS ANSWER TO ME WAS “DAD NO WAY” I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE MY MONEY GOING TO WORK IN THE MORNING, AND NOT COMMING HOME SMEELING LIKE: A FISH, ONIONS, HERRING, CORNED BEEF, PASTRAMI, KISHKA, AND WHATEVER WAS MADE (AND ALL WAS MADE UNDER MY WATCHFULL EYE) THAT DAY!!

    WE HAD A STAFF OF UPWARD OF 30 EMPLOYEES….WELL I CAN GO ON FOR MANY, MANY PAGES WOULD LOVE TO DO AN INTERVIEW ONE DAY SOON….. I HAVE A HOME IN NEW YORK (LONG ISLAND) AND SOUTH FLORIDA (WEST PALM BEACH)..IF YOU NEED A STORY OF A GUY THAT HAS THIS IN HIS BLOOD, SWEAT & JUST PLAIN LOVE OF THE BUSINESS, JUST GET IN TOUCH WITH ME. ALL THE YEARS WENT BY SO QUICK, SOMETIMES I WISH I COULD BRING IT ALL BACK!!…..SIDMAIDEN@AOL.COM >> MR. SIDNEY MAIDEN 2600 SO. SEAMANS NECK ROAD SEAFORD, NEW YORK 11783

  5. Peter Paull says:

    I remember sometime back in the 1970s a friend and I were downtown in my car and we suddenly
    had a desire for bagels and nova scotia. My friend went in to Russ and came out with 2 bagels and
    a 1/4 pound of lox. We cut open the bagel wit a pen knife put on the lox,but there was no butter.
    I ran into the store and told them my friend had burned his hand, and they gave me a big wad
    of butter. It made for a delicious bagel and lox in the car.

  6. Rene'e says:

    I remember my Zaida and Bubba living near the store. Coming in to purchase bagels, lox, etc. was such a great memory for me and my family.
    This was a wonderful video to see and bring back such great memories…..

  7. Sandy says:

    Looking forward to my first visit to Russ and Daughters. Became acquainted with the Russ family watching Jews of New York and got a warm wonderful feeling both from the show and their superbly done website. It would be an honor to meet one of the family in person. The food sounds mouth watering; can’t wait!!

  8. David says:

    I am dropping you this note to comment on the beautiful story on PBS about your company that I watched several times over the past few days. As a 52 year Jew form Brooklyn, whose grandparents and mother were from the Lower Eastside it was incredibly heart warming. My parents got married and moved to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn in 1950 into a co-op apartment building where I was born and raised with my younger brother. Some of my fondest memories as a child was going with my father, who passed away in 2003, to the local appetizing store for our weekly sable, belly lox, tub butter and other assorted Jewish delicacies. The name Russ and Daughters came up so many times when both my parents and grandparents would reminisce about the Lower Eastside. I even went to a sleepaway camp called Camp Edalia sponsored by the Educational Alliance not far from your location. As a teenager I even worked in a local supermarket behind the appetizing counter where I cut lox, sable and whitefish by hand. Through all the years and all the speaking about Russ, I have never once walked into your store, which is something that I regret especially after seeing the PBS special. My mother, who is in Florida right now (where else), will be returning back to Brooklyn at the end of March, at which time I plan on getting together with my brother and coming to the store to visit and enjoy a bagel with a schmear piled high with belly lox.

    G-d bless both of you for maintaining a tradition that certainly is destined to slowly fade as my children and other in their generation will never really appreciate the beauty and richness of growing up Jewish in New York.

  9. Dan Cole says:

    I am a non-jewish Floridian, and am not old enough to recall the “store”, however, I knew Hattie Gold in the early 1990′s (I was her accountant). I recognized her in the TV show. Her face brought back memories of one of my favorite clients from that time frame. I just want to say high to Hattie Gold if she happens to read this. Daniel Cole – Coral Springs, Fl.

  10. Martin Russ Pulvers says:

    A little footnote to the history of the Russ family. The middle daughter, Ida (also middle in the photo above)split from the family business and opened her own appetizer/deli in Massapequa on Long Island. The store was titled “South Shore Appetizers” but was never known as anything but “Ida’s.” Besides the highest quality of meats and smoked fish (with her background, she simply couldn’t abide anything but the best…and she knew how to get it; she was as tough as her old man)all of the salads were made in-house, with the finest ingredients. After exposure to Ida’s, the food served to the multitudes as such famous delis as Katz’s, Carnegie, Stage-Door and 2nd Ave. Deli all seemed so sad and second rate. For that short period of time, when Ida’s on Merrick Rd. in Massapequa was under her apron, the clientele had access to the best Kosher style deli in the world. That’s the emmes.

  11. Corinne Robbins says:

    My father, Dr. Michael C.C. Lilienfeld always told me that he had delivered the children of the Russ & daughters family. I know when I accompanied my mother there, we were treated royally, even packing the smoked goods for my mother to take to California by plane when visiting my brothers there.

  12. mort kramer m.d. says:

    I was lucky enuf to see The Jews of New York onBaltimore TV
    It was GREAT can’t wait to visit you in NY

  13. Michael Shor says:

    this seemed to be a free commercial for Russ and Daughters.

    What about the other great Jewish food stores in NYC

    This smells of corruption.

  14. Aimee says:

    Such a beautiful store and selections. The moment you enter the door, and step upon the floor of white and black tiles, one sees so many delights, and can feel the love, devotion and committment made to this establishment by generations of this family and their extended members. There is of course an added excitement to the whole experience- the joy of tasting a sample from the varieties of excellent smoked salmons offered. I myself am so glad that Russ and Daughters Appetizers is right here in New York’s Lower East Side. Aimee- New York City

  15. Sonja Boatman says:

    New York born & raised, I moved away after 38 years. Living in south central Pennsylvania is wonderful EXCEPT for the food. When I discovered Russ & Daughters in April, 2006 I knew I would have to return to the store every trip I made back home. In fact, I was just there last week & stocked up on the WONDERFUL Nova & Sable I miss so much! Now I can order online & have it shipped!

  16. Peter Knobler says:

    My father took me to Russ & Daughters when I was a little boy in the 1940s. I’ve been going ever since. One of the great days in my life was the first time I took my son there. Another was this year when he told me he took a bunch of his out-of-town NYU roommates to the store as a guide to what’s really good in New York. Some good things! I went last week. The neighborhood is nothing like it was but Russ & Daughters seems pretty much unchanged, and it still has the best whitefish in the city, maybe the world.

  17. MK says:

    WOW this is wild. They must of known my grandfather who owned Ratners on Delancey Street. This really makes me miss my grandpa.

  18. newyorker123 says:

    they have good food, but from the workers to the owners, they’re very rude and unpleasant to do business with. even if you’re a good customer, they treat you like you’re their worst enemy. instead of concentrating on the quality of food so much, they should concentrate on being nice to customers.

  19. Nat says:

    Wow, I disagree with the previous post 100%. I’ve never encountered anything but kind, friendly, knowledgable workers and owners there. Everyone takes pride in the business and takes so much time to talk and get to know customers new and old. I’ve shopped there on and off for many years as I moved in and out of New York. I love it and the people there too. They’re part of why I always go back.

  20. newyorker123 says:

    Well, I disagree 200% with the previous post. Just because you didn’t experience that, doesn’t mean others didn’t including myself.

  21. Steve Sandrowitz says:

    It’s great getting older (I’m 68), BUT, it’s terrible when you can’t find things that you loved, in your younger years.

    My Mother used to make a dish of Cooked Herring and Potatoes. She would send me to the store to pick up a HARD HERRING, for cooking.

    I can’t find anyone that even knows what that might have been, so I switched to SCHMALTZ Herring (WHOLE).

    I live in SOUTH Florida (Broward County). Does anyone know what I am taling about and/or where I can purchase some of these herrings?

    Thank You,

  22. brook says:

    I think it was incredibly interesting!! I loved it.I love history

  23. [...] York, including a business that truly represents the quintessential “flavor” of New York – Russ & Daughters Appetizers on the Lower East Side. Bagel and lox, [...]

  24. [...] appetite for some noshing in support of GVSHP’s work, you might enjoy this video of “Three Generations of the the Russ Family,” recently aired as part of the PBS special, The Jews of New [...]

  25. Erica Miner says:

    My Russian emigré mother’s family name was Russ, changed from Radzinsky. What was this Russ family’s original name?

  26. Aidyn Donner says:

    Enjoyed every bit of your article.Really thank you! Great.

  27. [...] had work the storefront because their beauty welcomed customers and because they knew English. This video is an interview with Hattie and Anne. The store is known for selling [...]


Fiddler on the Roof
Hasidic Rabbi Haskel Besser
Mayor Ed Koch
The Descendants of Jacob Schiff
Mount Sinai Hospital
Three Generations of the Russ Family

The Russ Family on Slicing Lox
Rabbi Haskel Besser and Pre-War Germany
Sheldon Harnick, lyricist for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

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