Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Synogogues No, but South Loop has Jewish Food and Culture

We recently went to Eleven City Diner (at 1112 S. Wabash) and had a good, quick meal. The diner had an old fashioned feel, relatively friendly service and a nice atmosphere that helped us enjoy our Corned Beef sandwich. The restaurant seemed to take a page out of the book from the popular East Coast delis (specifically one that comes to mind is the recently moved Second Avenue Deli in NYC). We enjoyed our visit and most definitely will be going back. This experience got us thinking about how the neighborhood caters to its Jewish residents.

The South Loop interestingly doesn't have a Jewish Synagogue in the neighborhood (at least we're not familiar with one). There are a lot of other religious institutions in the neighborhood (Soka Gakkai, Old St. Mary's Church, True Rock Ministry and the planed Church of Scientology to name a few). For Jewish residents the closest synagogue we found was the Chicago Loop Synagogue which is located at 16 South Clark. Technically it's not considered in the Sloop, but still pretty close.

However, even if there isn't a place for Jewish neighbors to practice their religion at least they have some great restaurants and cultural activities that can keep them connected to their faith. As we mentioned above, Eleven City Dinner serves many Jewish staples like potato latkes, matzo ball soup and our personal favorite the traditional corned beef sandwich.

Arguably the most famous Jewish deli in the city (maybe even the region) is Manny's Deli which is located in the Sloop at 1141 S. Jefferson. If you haven't been, we highly recommend you check it out. Not to beat a dead horse, but we highly recommend the Corned Beef! The deli has had it's share of celebrities and politicians hit up the spot (most recently Barack Obama).

Finally, if you want real Jewish culture (although in our opinion the food is a big part of the culture) then you can go over to the recently renovated Spertus Museum at 610 S. Michigan. We haven't been yet, but have been intrigued by some of the lectures and plan to check some out eventually.

So the moral of the story is that you don't have to fret if you're a Jew in the Sloop, there are ways to engage with your Jewish identity. Best of all you don't have to go to services on Saturday morning...

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