The Jews of New York -- A WLIW production premiering  January 23rd  on New York Public Television
Hasidic Rabbi Haskel Besser

Rabbi Haskel Besser represents a slice of New York history little understood by most Jews, let alone most New Yorkers. In the 1940s and early `50s more than 50,000 Hasidim immigrated to New York from Poland and Hungary, where their once vibrant communities had been wiped out by the Holocaust. Rabbi Besser escaped from Poland in 1939, after a harrowing encounter where a group of soldiers threatened to throw him from a moving train. His aunts, uncles, cousins and grandfather were killed in concentration camps. In his adopted city, Rabbi Besser has amassed an impressive array of achievements: not only has he succeeded in the commercial real estate world and the diamond district, but he has presided for 40 years over a small synagogue on the Upper West Side and he invented the miniature talmuds often read by devout Jews on New York subways. This extremely engaging character, who has met with world leaders and addressed crowds of thousands at Madison Square Garden, tells his life story with wisdom and wit.

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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