Our Communities: The Windy City in the state of Illinois is most famous among anash for its high-caliber chinuch institutions.
By Anash.org writer
Ask anyone in Chicago’s vibrant anash community to describe the best thing about living there and they will proudly tell you: the excellent chinuch in the local Chabad schools.
In 1982, five years after Rabbi Daniel and Mrs. Esther Rochel Moscowitz established Chabad of Illinois, they brought down Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf to expand Cheder Lubavitch of Chicago. At the time, there were 15 anash families in the city, and the cheder was made up of several classes being taught in basements.
Over the next few decades, the cheder grew in size and stature and attracted some of the finest talent in chinuch, including principal Rabbi Zalman Twerski. During that time, the Lubavitch Mesivta of Chicago – under the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Benyonim Perlstein – and Lubavitch Girls High School were established. Within a short time, these mosdos had earned a reputation for excellence in standards of chinuch and a chassidishe atmosphere.
Today, the cheder has 450 kids and two large, beautiful campuses, separated for boys and girls. Rabbi Yoel Wolf, who grew up attending the cheder and returned eight years ago as a fifth grade rebbe, says the local mosdos chinuch are the focal point of the community.
“There are several shuls in the community,” Rabbi Wolf told Anash.org, “but the cheder brings the community together. Everyone knows and mingles with one another, and there’s a warmth and familiarity among the families that is not affected by the neighborhood you live in or the shul you attend.”
The Chicago anash community has deep roots; Bnei Reuven, one of the main shuls, was established as a Nusach Ari shul in 1896. When Rabbi Baruch Hertz arrived in 1991, there were around 50 anash families in the city, and 75 who considered Bnei Reuven their home.
Today, Rabbi Hertz serves as the rav for close to 250 anash families living in West Rogers Park, and leads the kehilla of 115 families at Bnei Reuven.
“Chicago prides itself on being a strong, chassidishe community,” said Rabbi Moshe Markowitz, who serves as Bnai Reuven’s assistant rav. “Programs and shiurim are happening constantly, and there are lively, well attended farbrengens for all chassidishe yomim tovim. The shuls work beautifully together to create these opportunities.”
There are three shuls that are frequented by anash in West Rogers Park: Bnei Reuven, F.R.E.E., and Bais Menachem. While some shul-goers may choose a shul based on its proximity to their home, the crowd each kehilla draws is mostly influenced by its distinct flavor.
“Each shul has a very different style, which means that people can find the place that they really connect to,” said Mrs. Rivka Rapoport, who moved with her husband in 2016 to assist her parents, Rabbi Baruch and Mrs. Chaya Epstein, in leading the Bais Menachem community. “There is a diverse crowd living here, and everyone can find a place where they fit in.”
“The rabbanim have a very close connection to their communities,” shared Rabbi Wolf. “In this city, the rav of your shul is not just someone who leads the activities or who you call for guidance in matters of halacha. They are personally involved in the day to day lives of the members of their kehilla and are there for each one in his or her time of need.”
The close and cooperative relationship between the community and its leadership is seen in other areas as well. Rabbi Meir Shimon Moscowitz, who succeeded his father as head shliach, is closely involved in the anash community despite the fact that he lives 30 minutes away. In addition, Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois continues to take an active role in arranging farbrengens for anash.
There are many chesed organizations and services available within Chicago’s wider frum community, and Lubavitchers participate in many of these efforts. In addition, the anash community has several initiatives of its own – most notably the legendary Shifrah and Puah organization which lovingly provides post-partum mothers with lavish meals.
“One of the nice things about living in Chicago is that the chinuch and kosher opportunities make living a frum life simple,” Mrs. Rapoport told Anash.org. “The infrastructure here takes one from birth to end-of-life care and funeral arrangements.”
“For years, the drawing card for families moving to Chicago has been the excellent chinuch coupled with the ease of transportation and proximity to the geographic center of the country,” said Yale Zimmerman, a Chicago realtor who has helped many anash families settle happily into their homes. “Houses in every style and price range, chassidishe chinuch, and a wonderful, warm group of anash and shluchim makes for an unbeatable combination!”
Community size: 250 Families
Mosdos and Amenities:
- Main Chabad Shuls: Bnei Reuven, F.R.E.E., Bais Menachem – all in West Rogers Park
- Chabad Schools: Cheder Lubavitch of Chicago, Lubavitch Girls High School
- Yeshiva: Yeshivas Ohr Eliyahu – Lubavitch Mesivta of Chicago
- Mikvaos: Chabad mikvaos in the area
- Kosher Establishments: Jewel-Osco, Kol Tuv, and many restaurants
- Rabbonim: Rabbi Baruch Hertz, rav of Bnei Reuven and of the wider anash community; Rabbi Levi Notik, rav of F.R.E.E.; Rabbi Baruch Epstein, rav of Bais Menachem
Cost of Living:
- Housing market:
- Condos in West Rogers Park sell for 100k – 300k. Townhouses go for $250 – 350k, and single family homes can range anywhere from 300k – 700k.
- Apartment rentals range from $1000 – $1700 per month; for a house, between $2000 and $2500 per month.
- Parnassah: There are various business opportunities in and around Chicago; popular fields of employment include I.T. and hashgacha work.
- Cheder tuition: $13,000; through the cheder’s efforts, many government grants and scholarships are available to most families.
Nearby Anash communities: Milwaukee – 1.5 hour drive; Detroit – 5 hour drive.
For expert help navigating the Chicago housing market, contact Yale Zimmerman, a trusted Chabad realtor, at (773) 960-3770 or [email protected]
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