Welcome to Chelsea


Chelsea Jewish Tours and Chelsea Prospers present a walking tour of Jewish Chelsea on Sunday, June 26, 2022, 11 am.   This tour is FREE.  Join us! Registration information coming soon.

Would you like to request a private tour for your family or group?  Please contact Ellen, ellen.chelseajewishtours@gmail.com. for information. 

Watch for Chelsea Prospers and CHELSEA GATEWAY VIRTUAL FOOD TOUR,  a taste of an emerging culinary hot-spot!

Coming early 2023! The Chelsea Cultural Heritage fund and CHELSEA GATEWAY present the video, JEWISH CHELSEA, REMEMBERED and RE-VISITED, an immigrant story for all of us. 

Walking Tours

The Chelsea Gateway and Chelsea Jewish Tours proudly offer walking tours that explore Chelsea’s rich Jewish history and evolving present. For over 150 years, and for so many different peoples from all over the globe, “Welcome to Chelsea” has meant “Welcome to America.” Twentieth century Chelsea was home to more Jewish residents per square mile than anywhere outside of New York City. Such rich Jewish culture could scarcely be experienced anywhere else. Today, Chelsea is one of three cities in Massachusetts with a majority Hispanic/Latino population. As its diversity has continued to broaden, its economy has continued to develop, along with its thriving cultural scene.

On our tours, we will discuss the swell of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century, the mark that the growing Jewish population made on this city, and what has changed over the past few decades. We do these tours with the intention of honoring those who have walked before us and forged the ongoing tradition of Chelsea as welcoming port-of-entry for new Americans.

We hope that you will join us!

Meet Your Guide

Ellen Rovner, PhD, is the founder of the Gateway Project. She develops and guides the tours, drawing on her deep knowledge and many personal connections within the city. Ellen is a cultural and culinary anthropologist, and has taught at Boston University. She has deep family roots in Chelsea, and is passionate about connecting Chelsea’s immigrant communities to further cross-cultural understandings. Ellen will guide you along an exploration of Chelsea’s Jewish past and its valuable legacy as part of Chelsea’s dynamic, multi-cultural present.

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About the Tours

Chelsea Jewish Tour photo collage, photo by Kelly Benning

Our tours are open to anybody who is interested in learning about the Jewish history of Chelsea and the parallel narratives of Chelsea as a hub for immigrant populations. Ellen will lead you through downtown Chelsea, stopping at many landmarks of Jewish heritage and painting for you a portrait of a city that both looks quite different from the city that exists today, and yet also somehow still exists.

The city of Chelsea is fluid: you will see churches that were once synagogues, an apartment building that was once Chelsea’s Hebrew School, a Russian steam bath that has been an important social hub for men since 1855 and is now offering a Ladies’ Night, and so much more.

Tours are usually two hours long, and you can ask as many questions as you like.

Please visit our Tour Destinations page to explore a selection of what there is to see.

About Chelsea Gateway

Chelsea Gateway is a community-based initiative that explores and celebrates Chelsea’s rich immigrant histories and cultures.  Through tours, food, films, social media, and events, Chelsea Gateway asks questions that resonate today as they did over one hundred years ago: 

Why do people from all over the world come to live in Chelsea?   

What are the similarities and differences among Chelsea’s immigrant communities? 

What can we learn from the Chelsea Jewish immigrant experience? 

What makes Chelsea a special, unique place for newly arrived residents?

The Chelsea Gateway Project/Chelsea Jewish Tours is partially supported by the Chelsea Cultural Council, a local program of the MA Cultural Council, and the Chelsea Community Fund.

What People Are Saying

The way you weaved personal stories into the larger currents of local and world history’s influence on past Jewish and now Hispanic immigrants was interesting and moving. Loved the synagogue, the president and Mr. Katz

– Karen T.

Our team learned so much. It was a wonderful step to important conversations about cultural and historical identity. This was a wonderful experience and opportunity

– Sasha Parodi, Chelsea Collaborative Employment and Training Specialist

I’ve done other Jewish walking tours of Boston, but Ellen’s personal connection to Chelsea, and her relationships with the people at each stop along the way made the tour much more meaningful. I learned so much about Chelsea’s Jewish history that I had never known before as well as the city’s current demographic makeup and issues. I highly recommend this very informative and enjoyable tour to anyone who is curious about Jewish history in general and in the Boston Area in particular

– Rachel Putterman, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Coordinator of Summer Interns

Contact Us: ellen.chelseajewishtours@gmail.com

View our destinations.