Amazon Prime’s new docuseries, ‘‘The Luckiest Guys on the Lower East Side,” features Elissa Sampson, lecturer in the Jewish Studies Program, in Episode 2. Sampson is also credited with helping location scout for the film.
The series chronicles the challenges of Jewish small business owner Sammy Gluck as he struggles to keep his 70 year-old business alive. The work highlights the cultural conflict between the neighborhood’s roots and current trends in the age of gentrification.
Sampson’s research focuses on how factors such as Jewish migration, re-diasporization, and culture intersect with newly gentrifying urban geographic areas in Paris, Jerusalem, London, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.
A personal connection to the film’s subjects made participation in the project especially poignant for Sampson. “I have known Sammy Gluck, the Hasidic owner of Global International Men's Clothiers at 62 Orchard Street, for years, so I was tickled to be involved in this production,” said Sampson.
In a scene from the movie, Elissa Sampson talks to Sammy Gluck in his Orchard Street store.
The film has been met with praise by reviewers in its depiction of a distinctly New York experience. Sampson praised the filmmakers for addressing what she called “the urgent question of accelerating change in the Lower East Side and the very real difficulties that it poses for older neighborhood businesses.”
She added: “Not least, the film addresses with humor a topic of serious concern for all New Yorkers: How can the small brick and mortar business that define a neighborhood's fabric survive, and what might it take to help them make that shift?”
The four-part film can be streamed as twenty-minute episodes on Amazon Prime.
Catherine Gorey is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences