It’s a fascinating profile of the Lebewohl family and the Second Avenue Deli in Manhattan that Abe opened in 1954, his brother took over in ‘96 when Abe was murdered and that closed last year after a dispute with the landlord. The deli is reopening in November in Midtown, and now will be run by Abe’s nephews.
The Jews who immigrated here during the first half of the last century ate at delis â most of them kosher â regularly. Eventually they moved to the suburbs and traded salami for salad. In the 1960s there were 300 kosher delis in the city and suburbs and a Greater New York Delicatessen Dealersâ Association. That group is long defunct, and you can count the number of marquee delis left in Manhattan on one hand: Carnegie, Katzâs and Stage, none of them kosher. Assimilation is one reason; also, the need to separate dairy from meat limits menu choices (kosher meat is more expensive besides), and New Yorkers do not like limits. The staples of deli food, like matzoh-ball soup and corned beef, migrated in nonkosher form to diners and coffee shops decades ago; you need to be Jewish to eat deli the same way you need to be Italian to eat pizza. But for aficionados of the real thing, the high-quality, old-school kosher renditions of brisket or flanken or center-cut tongue like silk, the Second Avenue Deli was it.
I don’t care about kosher, but there is something spiritually inspiring about finely cut pastrami, like the kind Langers serves up a short drive from my office.
JewishJournal.com is produced by TRIBE Media Corp., a non-profit media company whose mission is to inform, connect and enlighten community
through independent journalism. TRIBE Media produces the 150,000-reader print weekly Jewish Journal in Los Angeles – the largest Jewish print
weekly in the West – and the monthly glossy Tribe magazine (TribeJournal.com). Please support us by clicking here.