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East Broadway and Canal Street

Rebecca Lepkoff (American, b. 1916)

East Broadway and Canal Street, 1948

  • Gelatin silver print
  • 8 5/8 x 7 3/8 in. (21.9 x 18.7 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund, 1998-11

Not on view



East Broadway and Canal Street


East Broadway and Canal Street

Rebecca Lepkoff was born on the Lower East Side in 1916. Her parents had emigrated from Minsk in 1910, and Lepkoff grew up in a two-bedroom tenement apartment (along with her five brothers and sisters). Despite the cramped conditions, Lepkoff retained many happy memories of her childhood, including Friday night dinners and accompanying her father to synagogue on the Sabbath. She bought her first camera with money earned at the 1939 World’s Fair, and with it, she began to document the vibrant spirit of the neighborhood in which she grew up.

In this photograph, a religious Jew is purchasing a lulav—a bundle of palm, willow, and myrtle branches—for the holiday of Sukkot.


  • Describe what you see in this photograph. Where and when do you think it is? What clues make you think that?

  • What do you think is happening in this scene?

  • Compare this photograph with Ben Shahn’s painting New York. What visual connections do you see between the works? How are the works different in terms of medium, composition, or mood?

  • How does each artist use the medium (photography versus painting) to his or her advantage in depicting the neighborhood?