New York City’s multiple Jewish museums are open and all have special family programs, concerts and must-see exhibits. The Big Apple Circus has two performances, there are some great vintage films to see, and NYC zoos and the aquarium are open, too.
This historic Lower East Side synagogue offers a toe-tapping Klezmerfest‘s Klez For Kidz program. It’s a high-energy romp through klezmer, Yiddish, and Jewish culture that will have everybody dancing in the aisles of the historic and beautifully restored sanctuary. Clarinetist Greg Wall’s band Klezmerfest! will have the whole family singing, dancing and dabbling in Yiddish at this annual favorite.
Concerts are at 12pm and 2pm. After the concerts, visitors are welcome to stay and enjoy the Museum’s two exhibitions, on paper cut art and menorahs from around the globe.
NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter visited for the opening night of the memorah display earlier in December, and was impressed by a collection that includes a Statue of Liberty styled menorah that was lit at the White House, plus antique silver and ceramic menorahs from Syria, Italy and Germany, a modern painted tin menorah from Mexico, and many more.
- Tickets are $14 for adults, $8 for seniors and students. Children 5 and under are free.
We all love the work of painter and stained glass artist Marc Chagall. Through January 6, see Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian avant-Garde in Vitebsk, which focuses on the People’s Art School (1918-22) founded by Chagall in his native city of Vitebsk.
It explores the extraordinary politically-charged years following the Russian Revolution of 1917, during which Vitebsk became an incubator of avant-garde art. On display are nearly 160 works and documents on loan from museums in Vitebsk and Minsk and from major American and European Collections, presenting the artistic output of three iconic figures—Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich – as well as works by students and teachers of the school.
On Christmas Day, hear the vibrant blend of bluegrass, Celtic, and Appalachian tunes with a Jewish soul, as Nefesh Mountain performs original melodies from their heralded album Beneath the Open Sky. Nefesh Mountain performs two concerts, at 11:30am and at 2pm.
- Concert tickets are $18 and include museum admission
- Museum admission is $18 adult, $12 senior and $8 student
About Nefesh Mountain
The multi award winning singer, songwriter and author Doni Zasloff has a unique background in singing, musical theatre and Judaism. Also known as Mama Doni, she produced 8 children’s albums relating to Jewish themes and holidays with a playful funky twist. Multi-instrumentalist Eric Lindberg brings his Jazz and Classical background to the acoustic forms of Bluegrass and Old-Time music. After graduating with honors from Mason Gross School Of The Arts with a degree in Jazz performance he has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.
See the Core Exhibition of hundreds of photos and other artifacts of the Jewish experience, and special exhibitions, including special FREE docent tours. There is a special tour at 3pm on 12/25, as there is every Tuesday at 3pm. All three floors of the Core Exhibition are covered: Jewish Life a Century Ago; The War Against the Jews; and Jewish Renewal.
Be sure to visit the Zen-like Garden of Stones, overlooking the Hudson River. It’s a quiet, contemplative spot, ideal any time of year, including on Christmas Day.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage is near Battery Park, at 36 Battery Place.
- Admission is $12 adult, $10 senior, $7 student and FREE to NYC public school students and educators, and to active duty military personnel.
The only museum in North America dedicated to math, and far from boring. Explore the connection between math and music, discover how a bicycle with square wheels rides smoothly over a rough surface, ponder why a pentagon-shaped bathroom sink is more efficient than a square one; play with algorithms that make lights change color when you move your body, and more.
- $15 adults, $9 children, students and seniors, at 11 East 26th St.
Go to the circus
Like seeing real-life superheroes in action, enjoy some of the world’s top circus acts and sets them lose in an intimate one-ring setting. What in the world could the impossible-sounding horizontal juggling be? Find out when Victor Moiseev debuts the dazzling feat for American audiences at NYC’s Lincoln Center.
What would it look like if Superman and Wonder Woman danced? Is it possible for a person to pull off four somersaults midair and time it so perfectly that another guy dangling upside down on a swing can catch him?
Just watch the Flying Tunizianis. Throw in beautiful horses, trick-performing dogs and hilarious clowns, and you’ve got one jaw-dropping, fun-filled show for the whole family, at Lincoln Center.
Visit the Animals
Go to the Movies
Spend Christmas with Nat King Cole at Film Forum. Long before he crooned his way into the hearts of the world, Nat King Cole (1919-1965) was already recognized as one of the greatest pianists in the history of jazz. Commemorating Nat’s upcoming centennial year, this unique compilation looks at both sides of this unforgettable musician and entertainer through the lens of jazz, blues and popular music – using rare film and television footage not available anywhere.
Presented by Wall Street Journal feature writer and jazz critic Will Friedwald, author of the forthcoming book Nat King Cole: Straighten Up and Fly Right.
- Tickets are $15, $9 for seniors, students and people with disabilities. Film Forum is at 209 West Houston St.
Spend the day with Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan and other Hollywood stars in classics including Berlin Express and Cold War.
Spend the day with the iconic Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life, The Hudsucker Proxy and other films.
What are your plans for Christmas Day?
Posted originally in 2015 and updated annually