The 2023 Intersisterhood event will be held at Temple Concord on Wednesday, May 3, at 7 pm. The topic will be “Jewish Merchants in Binghamton’s Heyday.” The admission price of $5 will give attendees an occasion to socialize, to partake in refreshments and to participate in a raffle for door prizes, as well as to have a chance to hear four local Binghamtonians – Marti Klionsky, Francine Stein, Howard Zendle and Ron Sall – recall what Binghamton was like in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Because of the subject matter, the event will also be open to men. Those planning to attend are asked to make their reservations by Wednesday, April 26, by contacting Beth David at 722-1793 or email@example.com; Temple Israel at 723-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Temple Concord at 723-7355 or email@example.com. Those who wish to attend can also respond by using the the QR code included on the event flyer or shown on the right.
“Do you remember the great meeting place called The Hub?” organizers ask. “Or a high-end women’s store that had local Binghamton girls serve as models for their clothing on their television commercials? Or the iconic, huge discount department store where they gave you free popcorn while you were hunting for fabulous bargains? The answers to these questions and more will be revealed to all who attend this year’s annual.”
“I was born in Rochester, and my family moved to Binghamton when I was 18 months old,” recalls Klionsky. “I have vivid memories of the many Jewish merchant stores, and I look forward to sharing them at the Intersisterhood event. If I have the time, I will try to create a map of where all these stores were, including my favorite go-to place for the wonderful fabrics they had for the clothes I made for myself and my family: Philadelphia Sales!”
In 1960, Francine Stein moved from Philadelphia to Binghamton, when her husband, Steve Stein, began a new job in a store called Philadelphia Sales, owned by his father and an uncle of Alan Jablon. “The store was open seven days a week; Steve loved working there, and eventually took over,” Stein recalls. “I never worked there, but bought lots of stuff there for my three kids, each of whom worked in the store when they were teenagers. So I can tell you lots about the store that people affectionately called Philly Sales. Alan Jablon is a friend who also continues to live in Binghamton, and he is looking forward to attending the event, and will help me fill in anything I leave out!”
Zendle was born and raised in Binghamton and, until his retirement in 2009, worked at IBM Owego as an operational programmer for computers that navigate airplanes. Like Klionsky and Stein, he continues to live in the area. “My father owned the Binghamton Kosher Market,” Zendle told organizers. “When I was in high school in the ‘60s, I made a video of my Dad in the new location of the butcher shop, which had its grand opening on Conklin Avenue. I am delighted that the video will be shown at the Intersisterhood event – it’s truly a historical document now, and I bet some audience members will recognize some of those who attended the shop’s grand opening! I also remember very well the many Jewish merchants and the stores that flourished at the time.”
Sall-Stearns Fine Men’s Clothing and Tailoring dates back to 1929, and is currently owned by Sall, who will be part of the program through a video interview. “Ron will share the fascinating story of this family-owned fine men’s haberdashery store,” organizers said, “and will detail what the store was like through the years and how it continues to be an important part of Binghamton’s retail scene.”
Coordinating the evening’s program are representatives from each of the three temples sponsoring the event: Dora Polachek and Eileen Miller from Beth David; Marsha Luks and Anne (Cookie) Schaeffer from Temple Concord; and Barbara Zelter from Temple Israel. “Last year’s Intersisterhood event,” say organizers, “was the first time since the beginning of Covid where we were able to gather in person. and the turnout was tremendous. A good time was had by all, as Robert Rogers and David Sperber entertained us with their Jewish-inflected parodies of memorable Broadway show tunes from the past.”
Organizers added, “The event covered all bases – conviviality, delicious refreshments, as well as door prizes for the lucky raffle ticket winners. This year’s Intersisterhood promises to be equally enjoyable, as we focus on Jewish merchants in the Binghamton area in what we consider Binghamton’s heyday in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
“This is a unique program,” organizers said, “and we promise that it will be highly interactive, with audience members encouraged to add their recollections of the Jewish-owned stores they frequented, or have fond memories of. We look forward to having long-time residents, as well as newer members of the community, join us in what promises to be a memorable event!”