"Looks like it’s ready,"
Ellen Anistratov is doing something that five generations of her family have done before her, making Knishes, the comfort food brought over to America by European Jews in the late 1800s. One of them was a Romanian immigrant named Yonah Schimmel, a scribe and rabbi.
"His dream was to come to America and teach people spirituality. Torah. But everybody was immigrants here so nobody really had money to support the rabbi to do whatever he wanted to do. So his wife started to make Knishes," said Anistratov, Co-Owner of Yonah Schimmel Knishes.
And around 1890, sold them from a pushcart in Coney Island, then a store on Houston Street, and in 1910, they moved across the street to this shop on Houston where they have been here ever since. Just in case you aren't familiar, what is a Knish? It's basically a form of dumpling.
"Potato, or something mixed with Potato, with onions and spices like salt and pepper, wrapped in a very thin dough,” said Anistratov.
Always round at Yonah Schimmel, even though other Knish bakeries make them square. This visit was a treat for my videographer Nick Wetzel, who got to enjoy his first Knish ever.
"If I wanted to say something to somebody upstairs I let them know, hello!” she said.
Ellen showed me the dumbwaiter used to bring knishes from the basement kitchen to the counter, also here since the beginning; it's an incredible tradition, one of the few businesses left on the ever changing Lower East Side that originally opened to cater to the neighborhood's Jewish immigrants.
"They bring their grandkids and they say, oh you know my Grandfather used to bring me here when I was five and the guy is like 95, that's amazing, yes," said Anistratov.
Ellen Anistratov says Yonah Schimmel has been here for more than a century and they hope to be here for another century at this location but they're also thinking about expanding so you can get Yonah Schimmel knishes in other locations. Find out more at knishery.com.