The (moving) Sign of the Times

Photo taken by me

I usually steer away from writing things that express my opinions, especially regarding the community I live in (which I happen to like).  However, yesterday was the last day of business for Rosenblum’s World of Judaica, which is moving out of my neighborhood to the suburb of Skokie, just about a 15 minute drive from me.

I understand why they are moving, due to the cultural change in our neighborhood’s main drag, Devon Ave.
Rosenblum’s was sort of the last great anchor on the street (which does boast a fish market, two all-kosher grocery stores, a bakery, a number of shuls, a certified Dunkin Donuts/Baskin-Robbins, and several shomer Shabbos businesses).

As I walked around the block from where I live to Rosenblum’s yesterday afternoon, I was sad.  Back in the day, well between 1998-2006, when we would come up from Indianapolis to visit friends, buy fresh meat, and occasionally eat out, Devon was different.  There was, at the time, also another seforim store, a pizza joint (we still have several in the greater Chicago area), another fish market, a sit down Chinese restaurant and more importantly, there was a feeling of a “Jewish” neighborhood.  For me, the main attraction was Rosenblums.  I love walking through the aisles and seeing both the newer seforim and older “one copy left” type books.  They have an extensive music section, gifts, kiddush cups, menorahs, kids items, etc.  They sell siddurim, chumashin, machzorim, etc to many instituions aross the country.  My father a”h was the one who arranged for his congregation in Wichita, Kansas to get their Artscroll sidduim and Stone chumashim from Rosenblum’s.  Each member of their staff, even yesterday when they were swamped, makes you feel you are their only customer.

In addition, they serve the greater community, meaning not just the Orthodox.  Many non-Orthodox customers came in to buy items and many gentiles, too.  Many a Sunday I would walk to their store, around the corner from me, and as I was looking for a Pirkei Avos or a shopping for seforim from the “school list” for my kids, I’d hear Mr. Fox giving a tour and having an intense question and answer session with groups of non-Jews or high school or college comparative religion students.  The store itself was/is a reminder that that we are, as clichéd as it sounds, a “people of the Book”.

We, as a family, pretty much split our shopping between Rosenblum’s and the other store in town (just a mile north), in hopes of supporting both Jewish businesses.  However, the convience of having a store so close to home is something that I will lament.  While it’s a loss that most people in my own neighborhood will probably feels bad about, I doubt that most will not talk about it until a store moves into their old location that doesn’t serve our Jewish community.  Then they will say, “I wish Rosenblum’s had stayed.”  

The good news it that their new store will be bigger, have free parking, is only about 15 minutes from me, and is more accessable for those in the suburbs.  Another plus, is that it seems a new pizza/itialian restaurant will be opening right next door to them before the end of 2010.

Rosenblum’s World of Judaica plans to be opened the first week of Novmember at 9153 Gross Point Road,
Skokie, IL 60077.  There phone number remains the same, (773) 262-1700, although I’m not sure how they were able to keep the same area code and phone number, even though they moved out of Chicago.

While the saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” certainly doesn’t apply for Devon Ave in Chicago, I can only hope that other stores in the area don’t close or move.

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