Frequently Asked Questions
+ Approximately how long are the tours?
Tours run approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours.
+ Why would I take a tour with the Conservancy over another touring company?
The LESJC prides itself in being the only touring organization that has a relationship with all the synagogues that are left on the Lower East Side, and is therefore able to take you inside of them. In addition, as a historic preservation organization, a portion of the proceeds of your tour goes directly to the sites you visit.
+ Do I book in advance?
Yes, our customized private tours are set up in advance, and although you can join a public tour the day of, we prefer that you pre-register and pre-pay in advance so we have an idea of how many people to expect on the tour.
+ Do the tours still happen on rainy days?
Yes. We operate rain or shine, so please dress accordingly.
+ What size group can you accommodate?
We have given tours comprised of one person, and as large as 100.
+ Do you have to be Jewish to take a tour with the Conservancy?
Absolutely not! We talk about history and everyone of every religion can learn about history. We just focus on the Jewish immigrant experience of the neighborhoods we visit, though we discuss other immigrant groups as well.
+ What age do you recommend for your tours?
6th grade and up.
+ Must I be a tourist to take this tour?
No way! Native New Yorkers love our tours! In fact, they make up the majority of our visitors.
+ How many different tours do you offer?
We have 3 types of tours: public tours which are open to anyone who wants to join, private customized tours for any size group from 1-100, and an educational curriculum tour called “A Day In The Life Of An Immigrant Child” which is for elementary school children.
The Conservancy has various public tours that we offer, and we encourage you to come back again and again to take them all (we have many such repeat visitors) as each tour is different. Every tour that is offered publicly can be booked privately as well.
+ How do I pay?
Private group tours: Depending on the size of your group, we usually ask you to send in or charge a deposit when the tour is booked. Final payment is paid to the guide on the day of the tour. Payments can be made by check, cash, or online with a credit card at our Private Tours page.
Public Tours: We recommend that you purchase your ticket online through our website in advance of the public tour, but you also have the ability to just show up and pay the day of the tour, assuming that we do not close it out due to large enrollment. If we close it out, it will be noted on the website as soon as that happens, so we always suggest that you check the website before just showing up at the meeting location
+ What method of payment do you prefer?
We accept major credit cards, cash, check or money order. Payments can be made online at our Pay Online page.
+ Do I tip the guide?
We leave that entirely up to your discretion. If you’ve enjoyed your tour, our guides really appreciate a tip, but it is not required.
+ How much walking is involved on your tours?
It depends on which tour you choose. Some entail more walking than others. All tours can be done by bus. Our guides can talk while you are being driven from site to site, instead of the traditional walking tour. You should be aware that almost all of our synagogue sites require walking steps, since they are 19th century buildings.
+ Are restrooms available during the tour?
We can provide you with bathroom facilities on almost every tour. We are never far from restaurants where facilities can be found.
+ Is parking available?
Parking is sometimes available on the streets, and you can frequently get a meter. If you need the names and addresses of parking lots, please call our office, depending on the neighborhood the tour is in, we may be able to provide you with that information.
+ Is photography permitted during a tour?
Absolutely. We encourage you to bring your camera and take lots of pictures.
+ Can I purchase a tour for someone other than myself?
Yes. It happens frequently. We are happy to provide you with a personalized LESJC gift certificate for the recipient.
+ Do I need a head covering when entering a synagogue?
We request that boys and men wear either kippot (yarmulkes), a hat or baseball cap during synagogue visits. Most shuls provide kippot, but to be safe, we suggest you bring your own. Girls and women do not need head coverings.
+ Is there a dress code required by the Conservancy?
You will be entering synagogues on most tours. Therefore, we request that you do not wear halter tops or very short skirts or shorts.
+ Is food served on the tour?
Unless previously arranged, our customized group tours do not provide food. LES tours often conclude with a visit to Kossar’s Bialys, The Pickle Guys, Economy Candy, or Yonnah Schimmel so you can experience a taste of the Lower East Side as well as its sights and sounds.
+ Can you suggest restaurants/hotels to us?
Most definitely. We are here to make your visit to the Lower East Side, as well as New York City, as convenient and fulfilling as possible.
+ Is kosher food available?
Please contact our office so that we might provide you with some suggestions.