West Rogers Park, is home to the largest concentration of Jews in the city, although the numbers have declined since the l960s, when Jews comprised more than two-thirds of the total population.. Significant numbers of Jews also live in adjacent neighborhoods like Peterson Park and Hollywood Park, as well as Rogers Park, where many retirees remain, particularly along Sheridan Road.
The first settler in the area, way back in the 1830s, was Philip Rogers, who traded with the indigenous Native Americans, and later bought a 1,600 acre tract from the U.S. Government.
With large numbers of Orthodox as well as Reform and Conservative Jews, plus a mélange of other religious and ethnic groups, West Rogers Park is today one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse neighborhoods in the metropolitan area.
Nowhere in the city is there greater access to all things Jewish than in West Rogers Park. There are more than 20 congregations in the area, the majority of which are Orthodox or Traditional. There are kosher butchers, bakers, restaurants and food markets as well as supermarkets which carry a variety of certified products.
For many years, Devon Avenue was the central Jewish marketplace. In recent years, other ethnic groups have moved into the area, establishing their own shopping districts on Devon. However, along a few block area, one can still find several synagogues and a variety of kosher restaurants, meat and fish retailers and Jewish bookstores. If you crave kosher pizza, Chinese food or Mid-Eastern delicacies, you can find them in West Rogers Park.
There continues to be a strong Jewish organizational presence in the community, including many Jewish Federation agencies and beneficiaries. For example, along a few block stretch of Touhy Avenue, there is the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center; the Jewish Family and Community Service Virginia Frank Child Development Center; the headquarters offices of the Council for Jewish Elderly and the CJE Swartzberg House; Keshet day camp; the Hebrew Theological College's Anne Blitstein Teachers Institute for Women; the Mount Sinai Touhy Health Center and the West Rogers Park Jewish Community Council. The Horwich JCC, as the focal point for many community activities, serves the diverse needs of all ages of long-time residents as well as newly arrived immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Among the other organizations located in West Rogers Park are Federation beneficiaries The Ark; Associated Talmud Torahs headquarters, its Ida Crown Jewish Academy and day schools; Yeshivas Brisk and CJE low-moderate income housing. Other area groups serving the Chicago community include the Chicago Rabbinical Council, the Chicago Community Kollel and the ORT school, located in the former Beth El site. Information on these and other organizations appears in listings throughout this guide.
West Rogers Park has many other attributes contributing to quality of life. Enthusiastic residents point to its location with easy access to the Loop and city amenities (20 minutes by car or Metra) and to the suburbs. Proximity to Lake Michigan is another plus. They also give high marks to housing, with single family homes and town houses more moderately priced than in other neighborhoods in the city and suburbs.