I am sure you've heard about us warm Midwesterners. All the kind, pleasant things they say are true: people in Chicago are warm, giving, caring folks who are very involved in chesed and very open to newcomers. If you're coming here for a visit or interested in staying long-term, you've picked the best of places. Good job!
There are already three excellent guides to Chicago.
1. The Chicago Jewish News' Guide to Jewish Chicago
2. The Chicago Rabbinical Council's Guide to Jewish Chicago
3. The JUF's Guide to Jewish Living in Chicago
Why, then, have I determined that another guide is necessary?
Oh, well, the more the merrier...
More particularly, those guides are simply lists of places and addresses while I can theoretically add to that- detail is always exciting, yes? So let's begin!
There are three major Jewish communities in Chicago. They are:
- West Rogers Park
- Peterson Park
There are smaller communities in Buffalo Grove, Highland Park and other suburbs (Lincolnwood, Northbrook), but for the purpose of this guide we shall focus on the main three.
How to differentiate between these three communities? Why, that's easy!
It all has to do with jackets.
A man davening in a Skokie shul will not feel it necessary to wear a jacket during prayer, a man davening in West Roger's Park would wear a jacket and a man davening in Peterson Park would wear a jacket and a black hat.
The Modern Orthodox reside in Skokie. The Modern Orthodox to Orthodox reside in West Roger's Park. The Orthodox to Ultra-Orthodox reside in Peterson Park. So it all works out nicely and everyone's happy.
There is a strong Lubavitch presence in Chicago, incidentally.
SHULSThere are many synagogues in Chicago. For a full list of Orthodox synagogues, I suggest you look here. For a list of minyanim and times, look here.
I will list the shuls I know best.
In West Roger's Park:
2832 W. Touhy Ave. Chicago, IL 60645
Rabbi Reuven Gross
President Mitch Rose
Phone: (773) 274-2223
Sha'arei Tzedek features a warm and vibrant community made up of young adults and their children, including many Ba'alei Teshuva. At the moment, the shul is under construction, so it is not as pretty as it could be and if aesthetics are important to you, you will not like it. Rabbi Reuven Gross is a kind, learned man who is well-spoken and articulate. His speeches on Sabbath afternoon (after Torah reading) are always interesting and well-prepared; he is very good at connecting with everyone in the audience, no matter their background. The shul does have a kiddush with goodies and treats from Breadsmith and cholent made by Mrs. Gross (it's quite tasty.) There are children's programs in the back room. There are classes and shiurim offered as well.
aka Atereth Yehoshua
2913-15 W. Touhy Ave.
Chicago, IL 60645
Rabbi Yehoshua H. Eichenstein
Phone: (773) 764-1382
Yes, this shul is officially called Atereth Yehoshua. Be warned, nobody calls it that. It is "Eichenstein's." If you say you are going to Ateres Yehoshua, people will be confused. This shul features a davening that is nussach Sephard. It is also exciting because the Rabbi does not speak very often (and people enjoy not having to endure long speeches.) There is a kiddush here as well, featuring goodies from a different bakery; I'm not sure which one. Children's programs take place upstairs. This shul features many middle-aged or older folks, though there is definitely a younger component as well.
Congregation Adas Yeshurun Anshe Kanesses Israel
3050 W. Touhy Ave.
Chicago, IL 60645
Rabbi Zev Cohen
President Chaim Suss
Phone: (773) 465-2288
Fax: (773) 465-1920
This shul is simply known as "Yeshurun." This is a mixed crowd-you've got everyone from Modern Orthodox to Agudah; here's where you'll find the largest social scene (this may simply be because it's the largest building, hence able to accomodate the most people.) Having recently moved to a new building, Yeshurun is the most beautiful out of all the shuls on Touhy. There is a large mahogany balustrade and balcony; the women remain on top while the men are below. Everything is decorated very beautifully. Rabbi Zev Cohen is known for his fiery, passionate speeches and his characteristic use of the word "Rabbosai." There are children's programs. There is a kiddush. I affectionately call this shul the "Kiddush Shul" because on Friday nights, the Rabbi makes kiddush up on the bimah and all the little children get to go up and drink out of little cups. I was always very excited to go to "The Kiddush Shul" with my father. (Nussach Ashkenaz)
Congregation Ezras Israel Mechitza Minyan
7001 N. California
Chicago, IL 60645
Rabbi Douglas Zelden
Executive Director Evelyn Levin
President Robert D. Manewith
Phone: (773) 764-8320
Fax: (773) 764-7438
If you're a person who cares about aesthetics, you will very much enjoy Ezras Israel's Mechitza Minyan. This shul has beautiful stained-glass windows and an absolutely gorgeous mechitza. The people are warm and welcoming. The service is explained in both Hebrew and English; someone regularly announces which page everyone is on. When they take out the Torah, they make a large circle and walk through the women's section as well, thus allowing the women to kiss the Torah. Rabbi Doug Zelden is an extremely likeable man, very friendly, very welcoming, the kind of person who notices you if you are new. His speeches are always short, clever, and explained in a way that everyone can understand (translation of Hebrew terms and the like.) The reason this minyan is referred to as the Mechitza Minyan is because there is an upstairs one with older congregants that is traditional and where they use a microphone/ there is no mechitza. There is a kiddush (often with a truly exceptional shiur given by Dr. Julian Ungar.) One note: The shul does not make use of Artscroll siddurim but instead works with the older (possibly Birnbaum) siddurim. (Nussach Ashkenaz)
Congregation K.I.N.S. of West Rogers Park
2800 W. North Shore
Chicago, IL 60645
Rabbi Leonard Matanky
Co-Presidents Neal Stein & Dr. Yigal Yahav
Phone: (773) 761-4000
Fax: (773) 761-4959
K.I.N.S is an acronym for Knesset Israel Nusach Sefard (even though they daven nussach Ashkenaz.) KINS is a Modern Orthodox shul that boasts truly stunning aesthetics. The interior of the shul features even more gorgeous stained-glass windows and plush seats and an elevated bimah at the front. The most important aspect of this shul is its Zionism. This is the Zionistic shul in Chicago; speeches given by Rabbi Leonard Matanky are definitely going to be pro-Israel and many of them will have a political slant. They say the prayer for the welfare of the State and for the soldiers in the army. The davening is nussach Ashkenaz except for the fact that they say the daily "Yom" after Shemoneh Esrei, the Sephardi approach. KINS also features a large social hall; sometimes people hold weddings there. It is a comparatively large shul in Chicago; also a place with many dedicated congregants and a definite "scene" (there are lots of young people here.) There is a kiddush (and children's programs, I believe.)
Young Israel of Skokie
3740 W. Dempster
Skokie, IL 60076
Rabbi Gershon Schaffel
President Jeffry Bernstein
Phone: (847) 329-0990
This is a Modern Orthodox, Zionistic shul in Skokie. They say the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel/ the soldiers. A close-knit group of people who are very kind and welcoming, really fine individuals. Rabbi Gershon Schaffel's speeches are excellent. He has lately decided to give a Parshanut course and disguise it as a Shabbos speech. It's working quite well. Each month, he chooses a great scholar (he's also going in historical order)- this month it's Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. He gives some background on the scholar, interesting tidbits and pieces of information, then proceeds to learn something connected to the parsha. (He prints off sheets before Shabbos and gives them to the congregants.) He has fantastic insights into the scholar's chosen mode and method of commentary. It's a really good way of keeping people focused and coming back for more. The shul has a delicious kiddush and children's programs upstairs. (Nussach Ashkenaz)
3732 W. Dempster
Skokie, IL 60076
Rabbi Aron Rosenberg
The Skokie Kollel has clever Shabbat services. They finish very quickly because they avoid all unnecessary speeches. They then have a sit-down kiddush (the women help put out the different salads, brownies, etc), men and women are seated separately. That is when the Rabbi speaks- when everyone is comfortable and listening because they're not hungry. It's a nice system. Since they are the Kollel, they obviously offer many different services (shiurim and the like.) On Shabbos, the Kollel has more of the Orthodox crowd (rather than Modern Orthodox) and the people who attend come with their families (rather than being predominantly teenagers or older couples.) They are very welcoming, however, and very accomodating. (Nussach Ashkenaz)
3800 W. Dempster Skokie, IL 60076
Rabbi Harvey Well
President Dr. Joseph Gluck
Phone: (847) 679-3645
Or Torah is the quintessential Modern Orthodox, Zionistic shul in Skokie. They say the prayer for the welfare of Israel/ the army. A very large shul, similar to KINS, in fact, this is the "scene" in Skokie. This is where all the teenagers and younger people congregate. Very spacious rooms and davening halls; there are two minyanim on Shabbos. One is earlier in the morning; the other, which is the main one, starts at 9. There are long benches rather than separate seats. Rabbi Harvey Well's speeches are also often political in nature, Zionistic and the like. There are children's programs and a large kiddush. At the moment, because Rabbi Harvey Well is retiring, they are auditioning Rabbis. (Nussach Ashkenaz)
There are a lot of schools. Elementary schools are listed here.
High schools are listed here.
The most common elementary schools for a Chicago child to attend:
1. Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School- If you are Modern Orthodox, Zionistic and don't mind people who will wear pants/ won't cover their hair, this is the school. The only elementary school in Chicago to have a Chidon HaTanach (International Bible Contest) program. The academics are very good; unfortunately children miss out on Talmud in favor of Tanakh. Classes are coed. Dresscode but no uniforms. Has a Keshet program.
2. Arie Crown Hebrew Day School- If you are Orthodox to Modern Orthodox and optionally Zionistic, this is the school for you. Classes are separate- there's a part of the school (upstairs) just for girls. There's another part of the school (downstairs) that's just for boys. Uniforms for the girls (plaid skirts, oxford or polo shirts, kneesocks) and dresscode for the boys. Has a Keshet program.
3. Yeshiva Tiferet Tzvi/ Beis Yaakov- These are two separate schools, both created and founded by the Agudah. These schools are for Ultra-Orthodox people. Yeshiva Tiferet Tzvi is for boys and Beis Yaakov is for girls. Obviously, there are uniforms/ a dress code. Library books are censored (there are parts that are blacked out.)
4. Veitzener Cheder- This is male-only. Teaches boys in Yiddish. Strong Jewish studies.
5. Cheder Lubavitch- Also teaches Yiddish. Separate schools for boys and girls.
For high schools, I suggest that you contact someone other than me.
If you need information- legitimately- about the high schools in Chicago, you can email me.
There is a Jewish college in Chicago. For guys, it's the Hebrew Theological College. For girls, it's the Anne M. Blitstein Institute (TI). It's got a different clientele than Stern- the girls who go to TI are generally more to the right. I highly recommend any class taught by Rabbi Shmuel Kurtz if you're interested in enrolling in a night course. The man is brilliant and I love him.
Chicago Jewish News (I love Joseph Aaron's articles.)
Likutei Pshatim (put out by the HTC folks, in shuls everywhere)
Acheinu- THIS IS ESSENTIAL. If you come to Chicago, you must, and I cannot repeat this enough, own the Acheinu. This is the phonebook for everyone Jewish in Chicago (well, who chooses to be listed.) It also contains the phone numbers for every single store/ restaraunt/ handyman/ private business/ shop. You want the Acheinu. (You can get it in a physical format or can download it to a PDA.)
Acheinu Weekly Bulletin
Also, make sure you get signed up with "the Yeshiva's" Purim Shalach Manos service. It's Skokie Yeshiva. (More about that in a different post of mine.)
See here for the complete list.
The largest one/ the one everyone goes to in order to buy books and sefarim for school is Rosenblum's.
Rosenblum's World of Judaica
2906 W. Devon Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659
The JCC, or Jewish Community Center. The Bernard Horwich JCC is amazing. They even have separate workout rooms now!
There's NCSY/ Bnei Akiva/ SNIF in Chicago, but I'm not the one to ask about the particulars.
APPLIANCES (Washing Machines/ Computers/ Ovens/ Etc)
There's your typical Best Buy/ Office Max/ Costco/ Office Depot/ Home Depot/ Menards. But Chicago bosts an extra-special amazing store with much cheaper prices than the rest. That is ABT. They have amazing customer service; the store itself is one of the coolest places ever (they have a Home Theater section where you can sit in massage chairs and watch whichever movie is playing, a tank full of fish and a globe revolving in water- kids are transfixed with wonder) and you will love it. Buy all your appliances at ABT.
1200 Milwaukee Ave
Glenview, IL 60025
6450 N. California
Chicago, IL 60645
Fax: (773) 973-4362
There are many gemachs as well; I simply don't know the addresses or names.
KOSHER STORES (Supermarkets/ Delis/ Fish)
Chicago boasts many kosher stores. Here are the ones you want to know about:
Hungarian Kosher Foods
Kosher: Stores & Delis
4020 W. Oakton Skokie, IL 60076
Phone: (847) 674-8008
Fax: (847) 674-6256
Hours: Sun. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Shabbat.
Hungarian is the one-stop-kosher-shop. This store only sells kosher products and it carries everything you could possibly want or need (cold cuts, wines, aluminum foil containers, cereal, milk, lox.)
Jewel Osco (Kosher)
2485 W. Howard
Evanston, IL 60202
Cuisine: Meat Dept. Fish, Deli-take-out
Yes, we have a kosher Jewel Osco. And I mean really kosher. So kosher that they've got a Jewel bakery that bakes kosher bread, pies, donuts and cakes. They've got a kosher deli. They've even got a Chinese take-out restaraunt situated there, Tein Li Chow. Grocery shopping was never so fun. (And of course, everything is at normal prices because Jewel Osco is a regular store rather than a specifically Jewish store.)
(Cert. By Mosdos Machzekei Hadas)
2938-40 W. Devon,
This is one of the smaller Jewish stores (with anything you'd find in your typical grocery store, though they carry more Jewish products than, for lack of a better word, secular.)
2923 W. Touhy
Chicago, IL 60645
Also one of the smaller Jewish stores (grocery store, see above.)
Romanian Kosher Sausage Co.
Kosher: Stores & Delis
7200 N. Clark Chicago, IL 60626
Phone: (773) 761-4141
Fax: (773) 761-9506
Hours: Sun. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Mon.-Wed. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Shabbat.
Romanian sells coldcuts! It's an awesome deli. We love it. Go to Romanian.
Good Morgan Fish
2948 W. Devon Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659
Phone: (773) 764-8115
CRC supervision. Hours: Sun. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed Shabbat.
Good Morgan's is also an eatery! Their fried fish sandwich is amazing. But the grilled fish sandwich isn't bad either. And I love their chowder.
Robert's Fish on Devon
2916 W. Devon Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659
Phone: (773) 761-3424
CRC supervision. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m -5 p.m.; Fri. 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed Shabbat and Sunday.
Anything else butcher/fish related, see here.
Anything else store related, see here.
Please see here.
Definitely the coolest one is the kosher Breadsmith.
3327 W. Dempster Skokie, IL 60076
Phone: (847) 673-5001
Fax: (847) 673-5502
Don't forget that Jewel Osco now makes cakes, too!
All the Dairy Restaurants listed here.
All the Meat Restaurants listed here.
I'll say a few quick words about them.
Bagel Country: A very good place to go with your family, not the place you want to go for a fancy date. Open, bustling, small tables or little booths. They have excellent pizza bagels and I've heard the tuna wrap is good, too. They also have an ice cream section which is pretty awesome. Relatively inexpensive.
B.B.'s Bagels: A quick stop-off for coffee or your morning routine. Food is good but the eatery is relatively small and faces the street. You can expect typical breakfast/lunch type foods, different kinds of eggs, sandwiches, wraps, pancakes. I recommend the pancakes- they are excellent. Relatively inexpensive.
Da'Nali's Cafe: They have the best deep-dish pizza in all of Chicago. A nice place to go with the family or on a moderately fancy date. They sometimes have entertainment (little bands or the like.) You have not lived until you have eaten Da'Nali's frenchfries. You will not forget them. (They're also conveniently located right next to Hungarian, so you can grocery-shop afterwards, if you're with your family.) Moderately expensive.
Dunkin' Donuts: There is a particular Dunkin' Donuts that is kosher in Chicago; not all of them are kosher. Your obvious Dunkin' Donuts; I don't need to explain.
Main Street Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor: They make excellent pizza. And I enjoy their ice cream, too. Good family place; you'll see friends hanging out here, too. Little tables or booths. Relatively inexpensive- potentially moderate.
Slice of Life: This is the fancy dairy restaurant in Chicago. Here you can get pastas and pizzas and all kinds of fancy dishes. Food is excellent; the service could be better. I love the French Onion soup, also enjoy the eggplant parmesan. Expensive.
Tel Aviv Kosher Pizza: Family place and/or friends hanging out here. Very relaxed place. The owners are very warm. Relatively inexpensive.
Malibu: Malibu just opened; it's right next to Ken's Diner. It has a summer beach theme (so there are interesting palm-tree lights everywhere, sand, blown-up boats and the like.) The food was good; they had some gig playing there on Saturday night. Not very many choices, so if you like variety, this isn't the place. Pretty much pizza and maybe one pasta dish. Relatively inexpensive.
Great Chicago: This is just like Ken's Diner except it's not as well-known. The theme features Native Americans. They have a sukkah over Sukkos (so you can eat there.) They're your typical fast-food place- burgers, chicken nuggets, different types of chicken, cold cuts, etc. Nice place, great hangout for family or friends. Relatively inexpensive.
Hy Life Bistro: Fancy place- this is the meat section of Slice of Life. I've only been there once and it was pretty decent, not incredibly amazing. This is the place you go if you want to treat someone to something special, it's a night out with the family or you're taking someone on a date. Expensive.
Ken's Diner: And this is the best-known restaurant in all of Chicago. It's a grease-joint, fast-food just like Great Chicago. The theme is different, though- they've got old posters and they have it decorated like in fifties-style with old booths and all. Candy dispensers and a little alcove make it fun; there are televisions there that are always showing sports. The people who work there are chummy and amusing. Burgers, chicken nuggets, sub sandwiches. Great place to hang out with friends; they also have an excellent veggie burger. Good family place, too. Relatively inexpensive.
Shallots: This is the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in all of Chicago. The food is delicious. I got to go there for my birthday (see this post-it has pictures of the food)! Gorgeous restaurant, wonderful ambience, excellent steaks and awesome desserts. Famous for "The Black Hat" dessert. Very expensive.
Taboun Grill: Excellent Israeli food, definitely different. Kubeh, schwarma, very spicy food- Meditteranean atmosphere. The restaurant is generally crowded, so there's not so much privacy, but other than that it's a really nice place. Family/ friends/ date.
Tein Li Chow: Chinese takeout (not sit-down)- really good, far better than Eden Wok. *smiles* I love their potstickers.
STORES/ MALLS (Clothing, Accessories, Jewelery)
Lincolnwood Town Center
3333 West Touhy Avenue
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
Very good "walk-around" mall. Has a nice array of stores- Wet Seal, Carson Pirie Scott, Rave, Regis, a nails place, kosher ice cream booth, Claire's, Gap, Old Navy, Kohl's, Things Remembered...and more.
66 Old Orchard Center
Skokie IL 60077
This is the mall in Chicago. If you come to Chicago and don't stop by Old Orchard (now called Westfield Mall), you're missing the whole entire point. Firstly, it's huge. Every store you could possibly want is there. And of course they've got movie theaters, lots of places outdoors to sit and listen to the classical music, gorgeous fountains- it's basically amazing. Go to Old Orchard. Go now. There's definitely something for everyone, every age- everything from the Disney Store to Sharper Image to Brookstone to Abercrombie and Fitch. Obviously all the department stores- Lord and Taylor, Nordstroms, Macy's...oh, and just across the street there's a DSW Outlet. It's an outdoor mall, which makes it amazing in the summer- and beautiful in the winter, with all the Christmas decorations.
2171 Northbrook Court
Northbrook, IL 60062
This is an upscale indoor mall that has over 200 stores. Also has a beautiful fountain and has many different levels. It's gorgeous but just not as much fun as Old Orchard. This is the place to go if you crave variety or have to buy something very fancy.
2937 W Touhy Ave
Chicago, IL 60645
Phone: (773) 764 2770
Fax: (773) 764 2769
This is a store that caters to the Orthodox Jewish community. They offer fun, stylish tznius clothes. Danielle's (the owner's) collection changes; sometimes there are one-of-a-kind items there, sometimes the items are less unique. I have found some really gorgeous clothes there. The key is to stop by frequently; she changes it up often enough!
2936 W Devon Avenue
Chicago IL 60659
Phone: (773) 465-5886
This is a store for the Ultra-Orthodox. She sells suits of many kinds; everything is supposedly from New York and fits a certain kind of person's style-not everyone's. It's an excellent store for long denim jean skirts. Also, there are some gorgeous Shabbos robes.
You can google Fox's; there are several different locations in Chicago. This is an excellent resource for a girl/ lady who is trying to find modest clothing here. Fox's carries a nice array of modest clothes.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS/ THINGS TO DO
Check out KidChicago.com for an excellent list of attractions in Chicago.
Some that shouldn't be missed:
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605-2496
The Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive
First Avenue between Ogden Avenue and 31st Street
John G. Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue •
Chicago, IL 60611
Box Office 312.595.5600 •
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois, 60603-6404.
You can get directions at Mapquest or Hopstop.
And Metromix is a great site to find out about Chicago attractions, as well (geared more towards adults.)
All right, folks.
I sure hope that helps.