Skokie, Unwell., Has Nice Bagels — And An Even Higher Tale At the back of Them

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The bagels on the market at Skokie’s New York Bagel & Bialy, which opened within the Illinois the town in 1962, are as excellent as any you would in finding within the Large Apple. Within the post-Global Warfare II generation, town was a hub for Jewish Holocaust survivors, and synagogues sprouted along Jewish delis.

Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein


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Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

When my mom gave up the ghost in Sarasota, Fla., my sisters and I had 48 hours to close up her condominium and ebook it again to our homeland of Skokie, Unwell., for her funeral. Embarking on a highway travel in combination throughout six states, lets handiest fixate on something: Kaufman’s bagels and trays for the shiva (the Jewish custom of 7 days of mourning after burial). When it got here to our mom’s shiva, my sisters and I held a long-standing promise to put money into the most productive bagels and trays in any respect price.

There was once only one drawback: It was once Passover, when Jews have fun the good Exodus out of Egypt. As we careened towards our personal private Promised Land, we anxious that Kaufman’s, a well-known 50-year-old kosher-style deli and Skokie establishment on Dempster Side road, can be closed for the vacation. After a lot begging and pleading over the telephone, Kaufman’s got here thru with its grand fish and deli meat trays that includes the best Nova lox, thinly sliced corned red meat, tuna salad, gefilte fish, chive cream cheese, herring, sturgeon, sable, egg salad, chopped liver, black olives and salty pickles.

However consistent with Jewish legislation, Jews aren’t allowed to consume bread over Passover in honor of those that fled Egypt prior to their bread may upward push, so Kaufman’s put the kibosh on bagels, a lot to our dismay. As grieving daughters, the will for bagels as a convenience meals at our mother’s shiva trumped any kind of allegiance to the Jewish rules of Passover. All of sudden, we had a bagel disaster on our arms.

Nearing Skokie limits, we installed a frantic name to New York Bagel & Bialy Company on Touhy Road, a Jewish delicatessen and bagel store with places in Skokie and neighboring Lincolnwood, and defined our state of affairs. An confident voice at the line responded, “We’re open 24 hours an afternoon, seven days every week. We by no means shut. By no means.” My sisters and I breathed a collective sigh of aid, realizing that Skokie, “the arena’s greatest village” simply 15 mins north of Chicago off the the Eden’s Throughway, would now not fail us as Chicagoland’s final spot for Jewish meals.

Why Skokie? The city lives and breathes the tale of Jewish survival, because of its historical past as a hub for Holocaust survivors within the post-Global Warfare II generation. Kaufman’s proprietor Bette Dworkin explains, “Kaufman’s was once began through a survivor [Maury Kaufman] and when my circle of relatives purchased it in ’84, the majority of the group of workers had been survivors, with numbers on their fingers [tattoos used as identification in Nazi concentration camps during WWII]. There was once the biggest according to capita selection of survivors in Skokie for any neighborhood within the nation […] Kaufman’s was once a hangout for survivors.”

Within the 1950s, Holocaust survivors arrived in Chicago in the hunt for the embody of an increasing and centuries-old Jewish neighborhood, with many settling in West Rogers Park. However the close by suburb of Skokie, with reasonably affordable plots, higher faculties, and a quick observe to town with the newly constructed Eden’s Throughway in 1951 and the Chicago Transit Authority’s “Skokie Swift” in 1964, attracted younger Jewish households in the hunt for more space and a greater lifestyles.

Skokie synagogues sprouted along Jewish delis and quirky diners like Sam & Hy’s and Barnum & Bagel on Dempster Side road. Within the past due 1970s, when Nazis tried to march within the predominantly Jewish suburb, Skokie was a hub of resistance in opposition to Nazi extremism. By means of the mid-’90s, when I used to be in highschool, Jews made up just about part of Skokie’s inhabitants of roughly 80,000. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, an estimated eight,000 Holocaust survivors known as Skokie house.

Robbie Scher, supervisor of New York Bagel & Bialy, takes immense pleasure in his store’s bagel legacy. “Again in 1962, there in reality were not that many respectable puts for bagels. … We have by no means been a kosher bakery, however what we do is a real New York bagel. Numerous other people do not boil [bagels], they simply bake it, however we boil, which supplies it the shine, puffs it up and provides it that distinctive taste with that crisp crust. It is only a excellent bagel, and that’s the reason what we do.” Scher estimates that New York Bagel & Bialy simply produces 2 to a few million bagels a 12 months as one of the most primary wholesale bagel providers within the area.

Opposite to in style trust, it is extra than simply New York water that makes a bagel style highest. It is in reality simply an timeless dedication to the boiling procedure, and each Kaufman’s and New York Bagel & Bialy honor it religiously.

Kaufman’s proprietor Dworkin believes a excellent bagel is sure through ritual and procedure. Whether or not eaten heat out of the oven with a bit of butter, or toasted with a schmear of Nova lox, chive cream cheese, and thinly sliced onion, cucumber and tomato, a bagel “isn’t a bread doughnut!” as Dworkin notes. “It will have to be dense, it will have to be crusty, it will have to be chewy.”

Relationship again to 17th century Japanese Europe, the bagel has turn into synonymous with the tale of Jewish battle and survival itself. Representing the circle of lifestyles, the bagel embodies the mystic — and we merely do not know who we might be with no heat bagel embody right through lifestyles’s maximum sacred events, from bris (circumcision) to shiva.

Identical to the Jewish other people, the Skokie Jewish delis have had their trials.

From a 1980s salmonella scare and a 1990s union-busting case to a devastating fireplace in 2011, Kaufman’s has needed to reinvent itself in opposition to all odds. Emerging from the ashes, Kaufman’s now prospers as a powerful sit-down delicatessen and bakery with delectable cakes and an enormous menu of sandwiches, salads and Jewish convenience meals. Dworkin states proudly, “We are within the trade of reminiscences. Our greatest competition? Reminiscences of your grandmother’s gefilte fish.”

Merely put, Kaufman’s and New York Bagel & Bialy thrive as a result of “everyone loves a excellent bagel,” Scher says. “Simple, Mishmosh, Onion, Poppy, Sesame, the ones are our highest dealers. Now we have individuals who are available in from in reality some distance away — Israel, France, Wisconsin — and whilst you stroll in right here, you recognize, you simply really feel at house.”

Surrounded through reminiscences of our mom at our circle of relatives house in Skokie, the presence of bagels — sure, even at Passover — was once a blessing and a convenience. Bagels nourished us as we stumbled thru grief’s nation. And so we grieved in combination, praising Skokie for our soul meals.

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