On a clear, sunny day, driving north on Lake Shore Drive in Lincoln Park and Lakeview, the beautiful panorama of Lake Michigan and its inviting beaches is one of Chicagoland's premiere attractions. Add in the nearby park and zoo, the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field, and numerous theatrical, cultural and culinary venues, and it's easy to understand the popularity of the high-rise apartment buildings along the Drive and the gentrified neighborhoods westward.
While the rental, condo and coop buildings along the lakefront have long been home to many Jews, the diverse neighborhoods to the west in Lincoln Park and Lakeview have in recent years attracted large numbers of young Jewish families and singles. They've also attracted higher housing prices as the building boom continues. Further north in the Edgewater area, there are some signs of revitalization, typified by condominium conversion of the old Edgewater Hotel.
Jewish Federation agencies serve a variety of needs in the area. The Florence G Heller JCC offers a wide range of programs, classes and activities for children and adults. The innovative City North Kehilla, a joint program of the JCC and five area congregations, offers adults under 30 membership at all six institutions for one nominal fee. Hundreds of previously unaffiliated young adults participate in holiday services and celebrations and other activities.
Keeping kosher is now a 24-hour-a-day option thanks to the efforts of locals. Two years ago the area's main supermarket began selling a wide selection of kosher meats and poultry, breads, cakes, salads, packaged lunch meats, frozen foods and dairy products. Many kosher food products are also available at other area markets.
While Lincoln Park and Lakeview are generally considered to be upscale communities, many people living in Uptown and Edgewater are less fortunate. Studies have shown that there are nearly 40,000 poor or near-poor Jews living in the Chicago area. EZRA, a Federation multi-service agency, provides emergency services, job placement, advocacy with landlords, and other help to this population through its Dina and Eli Field Multi-Service Center in Uptown. The Center, which recently moved to new, larger facilities on W. Wilson Avenue also houses the JUF Uptown Café, which conducts a kosher meal program for the poor with the aid of some 2,000 volunteers.