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A bagel and lox giveaway draws a crowd of hundreds in Midtown

(New York Jewish Week) — There are few things in the world that famously impatient New Yorkers will line up for: theater tickets, hot nightclubs and really good food — even more so if it is free.

So it was on Thursday morning, when several hundred people stood on line near Bryant Park in Midtown to celebrate National Bagels and Lox Day, which falls every year on Feb. 9. There, Whitestone, Queens’ Utopia Bagels and Greenpoint’s Acme Smoked Fish teamed up to hand out free bagels-and-lox sandwiches from a pop-up food truck.

The weather Thursday morning was gray but mild, and people had started to queue on the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue at 8:00 a.m., one hour before the bagel bonanza was set to begin. By 8:30, the line stretched to two dozen people — arms crossed and earbuds in, scrolling on their phones or craning their necks to see when the windows would open.

Two intrepid staff from Utopia Bagels assembled the sandwiches fresh on Thursday morning for nearly three hours. (New York Jewish Week)

The line quickly took on a life of its own. Every five minutes, it seemed to double, then double again. By 9:25, it was snaking around the block, folding over itself two or three times. The NYPD was called in to help reroute the crowd. People began running to save their spots.

Those who got on line — and yes, according to Paul Brian’s “Common Errors in English Usage,” Americans typically wait in line, while New Yorkers and Bostonians wait on line — early were able to smugly enjoy their bagels and lox on their way to work. Anyone who got there after the food truck close to when it opened officially at 9:00 a.m. risked having to call in late — maybe very late.

“Are you in line for a bagel? Seriously, is it that good?” a passerby shouted at the line. 

“Well, it’s free!” came a response just as quickly. 

The onlooker simply shrugged and kept walking. “Have a good day, I guess,” she called out behind her shoulder.

The line began to curve around the block before the NYPD helped move the truck and the bagels across the street. (New York Jewish Week)

Donovan, a 51-year-old from Brooklyn, joined the throng after his nearby workout class. “I really don’t want to wait, but it’s free — and free is better than cheap,” he told the New York Jewish Week, adding that he had a Zoom meeting at 11 a.m. and he was worried he wouldn’t make it. 

The time was 9:21, and Donovan was near the middle of the line, with some 50-plus people behind him. “Time is money, too, but I wanted to get myself a treat,” he said, adding that he was eager to try Utopia Bagels — considered by many to be among the best, if not the best — bagel in the city. Even with the long wait, this was quite possibly quicker than schlepping to Queens from his Manhattan home. 

Near the front of the queue were Eric and Angelica, who live in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, respectively. They’d been on line for 15 minutes and in that time it had grown considerably behind them.

A chalkboard on 42nd and 5th Avenue with a callout that sounded almost too good to be true. (New York Jewish Week)

“We’re questioning if it’s worth it, but now the line is so long we feel like we have to stay,” Angelica said, illustrating what an economist might call the “sunk cost fallacy.” She’d grown up near Utopia Bagels, she said, and loves to get their bagels when she visits her parents. The opportunity to get one on the way to work is rare, she added, so she was willing to wait. 

The reward at the end was a freshly made “Super Nova” sandwich, which included Acme nova salmon, cucumbers, tomato, onion, capers and cream cheese on a plain bagel. On a regular day, the sandwich runs $14.25, plus a trip out to Whitestone. 

Of course, even if New Yorkers are willing to wait a while for something tasty and free, many will still have an attitude about it — efficiency being the biggest gripe. Toward the very end of the line at about 9:30 was a woman who heard about the giveaway from a colleague and really wanted to nab a bagel. “I’m about to give up,” she said. “I don’t understand why they need to make every bagel [sandwich] fresh. They should have prepared some in advance!”

Pure joy as those on line were handed their free bagel sandwiches. (New York Jewish Week)

By 11:40 a.m. — 400 bagels and 30 pounds of nova later — supplies had run out. But those with time to spare tomorrow morning can grab a freebie at Acme’s “Fish Fridays” at their headquarters at 30 Gem Street in Greenpoint. There, each week, New Yorkers in-the-know line up to get Acme’s iconic smoked fish at wholesale prices. In addition to giving away the Super Nova sandwich, they are offering whitefish salad sandwiches and, in honor of the Super Bowl, specialty Buffalo-glazed hot smoked-salmon sandwiches.

“Just looking at all these people, I feel so much pride in what my great-grandfather and grandfather started, and what my father and brothers and I have continued,” said Emily Caslow, a fourth-generation co-owner of Acme Smoked Fish.

Caslow wasn’t surprised at the length of the line. “New Yorkers are not known for their patience, but they will wait when something is worth it,” she said. “And they always show up for us.”


The post A bagel and lox giveaway draws a crowd of hundreds in Midtown appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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Ben Carr

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