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Jewish New Year tradition includes trip to kosher butcher

Plenty of Chicago grocery stores carry kosher meat. But Romanian is part of a dying breed - it’s one of the last kosher butcher shops in the city. It’s been open for 55 years.

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The Romanian Kosher Sausage Company in Rogers Park is one of the last kosher butcher shops in the city. Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ

The Romanian Kosher Sausage Company in Rogers Park is one of the last kosher butcher shops in the city. Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ

It wasn’t even 9 a.m. - which may seem early for salami - but customers were already lined up at the Romanian Kosher Sausage Company in Rogers Park last week.

For some Chicagoans, stocking up at Romanian is a part of their holiday tradition.

Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - began on Sunday evening.

Stuart Singal bought dozens of stuffed chickens, hundreds of hot dogs and a giant slab of corned beef ahead of the holiday.

“It’s the pleasure of the holiday,” Singal said. “I bring the stuff for people to enjoy.”

The Romanian Kosher Sausage Company in Rogers Park is one of the last kosher butcher shops in the city. Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ

Plenty of Chicago grocery stores carry kosher meat. But Romanian is part of a dying breed - it’s one of the last kosher butcher shops in the city. It’s been open for 55 years.

Store manager Mark Shainwald says shopping at Romanian is a tradition passed down through multiple generations.

“The grandparents came here,” Shainwald said. Then the parents came here. And now the children are coming here.”

The family-owned business has about 20 employees. Shainwald has worked at Romanian for four decades.

“I grew up in this neighborhood,” he said. “On Sheridan Road there used to be almost every block had a kosher butcher. There were a lot of Jewish people who lived in the neighborhood. Now, not so many. And there’s no kosher butchers on Sheridan anymore.”

Customers drive in from around the Midwest.

Singal lives in Chicago, but said he will drive to Detroit for the holiday and deliver the kosher cuts to hungry family and friends.

“There are people who see me, they say ‘You didn’t bring for me?’ I say ‘You didn’t order,” Singal said. “Everybody knows Romanian. I go to Israel, I take Romanian.”

And what would happen if he showed up for the holiday without six coolers stuffed with kosher meat?

“They’d send me back,” Singal laughed.

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