Explore the History of Jewish Delis in America at Illinois Holocaust Museum

The newest special exhibition, “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli, will run from October 22, 2023-April 14, 2024.

Skokie, IL, Oct. 04, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More than a place to get a meal, the Jewish deli is a community forged in food. “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli, opening at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center on October 22, reveals how Jewish delicatessens became a cornerstone of American food culture, evolving from specialty food stores catering to immigrant populations into acclaimed and beloved national institutions. The opening day for the exhibition will include food from Chicagoland deli Once Upon A Bagel and the chance to experience a Vienna Beef delivery truck from 1929. During the opening week, guests can also enjoy free admission to the Museum on Friday, October 27. The exhibition will run through April 14, 2024. 

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli explores how Jewish immigrants, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, created entirely new American cuisine while tracing the larger arc of the Jewish experience in the US during the twentieth century. For many of the four hundred thousand Holocaust Survivors and refugees who rebuilt their lives in the US, delis were a lifeline as they acclimated to a new country, providing a livelihood and purpose for the immigrants who became owners, waiters, cooks, and customers. 

“Delis became cultural centers for many Survivors, giving them a space to meet, find comfort, and create a sense of community,” says Arielle Weininger, Chief Curator of Collections & Exhibitions. “The exhibition reminds us of the lives that came before and after the Holocaust and is a testament to the resiliency of Survivors.” 

Organized into thematic sections that explore the history of the Jewish deli in America, stories of local Holocaust Survivors and Chicagoland delis will be featured throughout the exhibition:

  • Items belonging to the late Danny Wolf who owned The Bagel and was born in the Czech concentration camp Terezín will be featured, including a portrait drawing of Danny at two years old in Terezín and his family’s ID cards. 
  • A neon sign, meat slicer, and jacket from Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen. Kaufman’s was started by Survivor Maury Kaufman and served as a hub for the Survivor community for years. 
  • Several items from Hungarian Kosher Foods will be on display including cookbooks, advertisements, and business cards. The store was opened by Margit and Sandor Kirsche, both Hungarian Survivors of Auschwitz, and was where Survivor and former Museum President Fritzie Fritzshall met her husband. 
  • Nate’s Delicatessen is represented with a Nate’s Delicatessen “Hot” Corned Beef sign. A local landmark on Maxwell Street, Aretha Franklin can be seen singing “Think” in the deli in a scene from the 1980 film, The Blues Brothers. The deli closed in 1994. 
  • S.Rosen’s will be represented through photos and an original sign. The bakery was founded in Chicago by Sam Rosen in 1909 and is known for its famous rye bread and as the creator of the poppy seed bun, a Chicago hot dog staple.

A film created by the Museum sharing the history and impact of Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen, Kaufman’s Delicatessen, and The Bagel will also be featured. Names of past and present for Chicagoland delis will be featured and merchandise from several local delis will be available in the Museum’s gift shop. “Delis have been a staple in Jewish life for years,” says Weininger. “It’s an honor for us to share these local stories and focus on the immense impact they have had in their communities.” 

Details about the exhibition are available at https://ihm.ec/deli

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli is organized and circulated by the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California.  

Presenting Sponsor:
Once Upon a Bagel Family of Restaurants

Lester & Edward Anixter Family Foundation 
Golder Family Foundation 
Lindsey A. Lopatin and the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations 
Women's Board of Illinois Holocaust Museum 
Mitchell Kaufman in memory of Danny Wolf 
Paul Langer and Judith Frank 

Additional Funders:  
Eli’s Cheesecake 
Mark and Michelle Grossmann and Katten 
Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants 
Carol and Larry Levy 
Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen 
Mark and Lisa Pinsky 

About Illinois Holocaust Museum  
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center honors the survivors and victims of the Holocaust and transforms history into current, relevant, and universal lessons in humanity. Through world-class exhibitions and programs, the Museum inspires individuals and organizations and provides a universal wake-up call to action: Take history to heart. Take a stand for humanity. The Museum is open Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.ilholocaustmuseum.org or call 847-967-4800.  


Manny’s Delicatessen Leon's Deli

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