12 Signs You Grew Up Jewish in Chicago – Kveller
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12 Signs You Grew Up Jewish in Chicago

Whether you were cool enough to live in the city proper or are from the suburbs (but still tell people you’re from Chicago), if you grew up Jewish in the Windy City, you’ll probably relate to some of the things below.

1. You’re still mourning the passing of Best’s Kosher Hot Dogs.

best's kosher hot dogs

Via Flickr/Jason Perlow

Best’s Kosher were, well, the best. The cries of thousands of Jews could be heard all across Chicagoland when Sara Lee bought out the company in 2009 and discontinued the brand. Sure, the non-kosher keepers among us still have Vienna Beef, but nothing compares to Best’s. Darn you, Sara Lee!

2. Your idea of heaven on earth is Once Upon a Bagel in Highland Park.

Or Max and Benny’s in Northbrook. Or Kaufman’s in Skokie. Or The Bagel at Old Orchard. Or Manny’s downtown. You get the picture.

3. You owned one of the following fashionable items:

the north face fleece

Via Flickr/Four C’s

North Face fleece. Birkenstock clogs. New Balance sneakers. One of those sparkly Michael Starr shirts. Kate Spade purse. Juicy Couture jumpsuit.

4. You went to camp in Wisconsin.

You spent all of football season hating on the Cheeseheads, but once summer rolled around, you were packing your duffel bags for Jewish overnight camp in Wisconsin–most likely somewhere near the Wisconsin Dells. Perhaps you almost got sent home when caught buying a cheeseburger at Noah’s Ark on waterpark day. Ah, summer.

5. Lox Box was basically your Christmas morning.

It’s bagels and lox in a box, and it shows up right at your door. That’s the Jewish ideal.

6. From the ages of 12-13, you were invited to at least three bar or bat mitzvahs every single weekend.


The author’s bat mitzvah AKA MollyPalooza

There were smoke machines. There were Dip N’ Dots stations. There were ice sculptures. There were montages. Oh, were there montages. There were choreographed dances performed with the DJ’s back-up dancers. There were terrifying rounds of Champagne Snowball. There were glow necklaces and blow-up guitars. There were giveaways of customized t-shirts and boxers and the inexplicably popular doctor’s scrubs. At least one of them was Bull’s themed. At least one of them was at Michael’s. Pretty much all of them closed out with Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For.”

7. When the time came, your mom took you to Schwartz’s Intimate Apparel in Highland Park for your first bra.

Like her mother did before her.

8. Your grandparents (or your friend’s grandparents) lived in Winston Towers in Rogers Park. 

AKA Cabrini Greenberg.

9. Your parents are card-carrying members of Lettuce Entertain You’s frequent diner club.

lettuce entertain you gift card

You may or may not have gone to the Passover seder at Joe’s Stone Crab. Yes, it’s ironic. Just go with it. And make sure to tell them to use double points.

10. You remember the Walk With Israel when it was a very long walk.

It was the most exercise you got since your days on the JCC basketball team.

11. You’re used to snow on Passover.

And on the occasional Yom Kippur, too.

12. You didn’t realize Jews are a minority until you went to college.

Unless you went to U of I and pledged ZBT or SDT. Then you still probably don’t know.


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