…and Notes on the Sleepy Hollow – Tarrytown Jewish Community
By Henry John Steiner
Historian of Sleepy Hollow
From Beginnings in Old New York
It was an enriching experience to meet with Leonard Abraham in 2011. Our interview took place less than two months before his passing at the age of 100. Leonard died on Sunday, December 18, 2011, a little more than five and a half years ago. I found him to be warm and intelligent, possessing a great deal of zest for the life he led and a also a fondness for his memories of the past. The man I met with was a lovely, modest man with a fantastic memory and physical resources that belied his years. I saw him manage to walk down his steep driveway with careful but sure-footed steps. Like myself, Leonard was a man who never strayed far from his hometown. He was born on Main Street and died 100 years later on Neperan Road, two streets that are so close they are practically the same street. Like my own folks, Leonard’s parents had “migrated” northward to Tarrytown from New York City. Here the Abrahams put down new roots, and their family became a welcome addition to the life of this community.
Leonard’s parents left the surging Jewish population of Manhattan to become part of the more or less nascent Jewish community rising up along the eastern side of the Hudson River’s Tappan Zee. This community emerged to a large degree from behind the storefronts of Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, and Ossining. Jewish merchants had begun to arrive, seeking opportunities to earn a living and to peacefully raise families. They were not unlike the first Jewish families who arrived in New Amsterdam (the former name of New York City) in the mid-seventeenth century. Those new arrivals were hoping to start a new life.