OyChicago articles

Keeping pastrami on rye on the table

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Keeping pastrami on rye on the table photo

David Sax is on a quest. His mission? Save the deli.
Growing up in Montreal and Toronto, Sax was first introduced to matzo ball soup, kishke, corned beef and coleslaw on a weekly jaunt to the deli his family would make after Friday night services. Sax translated his love for all things Eastern European food into visits to the “great deli cities” – New York, Chicago, L.A. and Montreal come to mind foremost. He also visited some of the lesser known greats, like London, Paris and even Krakow – more than 150 delis in all. He describes his adventures in tasting in his new book, “Save the deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen.”

The luscious writing, full of saliva-inducing descriptions of pastrami on rye, complements the larger philosophical theme of the book – the survival of Eastern European Jewish culture. To Sax that means the survival and the flourishing of the deli.

Oy!Chicago’s Jane Charney recently met David Sax at Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli in the South Loop to kibitz about his favorite nosh, the story behind the mission and what’s next on his plate.

Jane Charney: Why the deli?
David Sax: My mother’s family had been in Canada for several generations. But my dad’s parents were immigrants, who came over when they were children from Eastern Europe. The culture in Montreal is very much a deli culture. We grew up in that world – the equivalent of Maxwell Street in Chicago, and it was just part of what we ate.

My father had a love for the food not for any nostalgic reasons. My mother didn’t grow up with it at all – only when she met my father and he dragged her into it. And growing up, going to the deli was the weekly thing we did. It wasn’t ever “we eat this because of a certain reason.” It was just, “we’re going to the deli.” I never even remembered the first time … it was something that we did. And it’s something I love doing. I love this food; I grew up with the taste of it.

Can you pick a favorite?
I’m always partial to matzo ball soup. There’s something about that. That was the one thing that my mother made at home. That’s a universal thread: One time I was traveling in Thailand, and of course, the Chabad guy approaches me on the street: ‘You Jewish? You Jewish?’ And he invited me over for Shabbat. I’ve had [matzo ball soup] in all these different countries, and that’s the one thing that’ll always connect Ashkenazi Jews. There’s always a matzo ball – that’s the standard fare.

How did you come to “save the deli”?
When I was at McGill, I took a course on the sociology of Jews in North America. A friend and I wrote a paper on the Sociology of the Jewish deli because we thought it would be fun. We went to a couple of delis in Montreal and interviewed the owners. And they all had the same story to tell, which is that business was really in a bad shape. Delis were closing down, far fewer delis than there used to be. It was the beginning of something, and I just knew that I wanted to get the rest of the story.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the business of running a deli?
The surprising thing was how much money isn’t made on the sandwiches. The things that people primarily come to the deli for – corned beef and pastrami – delis make very little money on that. And I think that’s one of the reasons why they’re having such a tough time. It’s very difficult to operate a business where your marquee item doesn’t make you a lot of money. Right away, you’re starting with a major handicap, so that was most surprising in terms of the economics of everything.

Thinking of opening your own deli?
No, definitely not! Now I know how hard it is. And I know what it takes. Ken Raskin, [the owner of Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli], has to be up at three in the morning to get in here and make sure the guys are peeling the potatoes for the latkes and to take the deliveries. And he’s been doing this for decades. And Danny, his son, said that “I knew my fiancée was the one because when we started dating, she understood this would always be my second wife ... like my father did.” The great deli owners marry themselves to the business. I’m too lazy.

How did you select cities visited?
I traced a route [from Toronto] to the big deli cities. I knew I had to go to LA and Miami and Chicago, but in this given time, where could I realistically go? There’s only so much room for so many chapters and so many places. And I didn’t want to go to a place that would then have to be cut entirely or whittled down so much. It was never meant to be just a guide to the deli. It was meant to be a story of the business and each place had to tell an element of that story. Too many places would have been quite repetitive.

The book is very user-friendly with its listing of delis in many cities. Did you intentionally make it so?
There was always going to be a practical aspect to [the project]. Telling the story of the places I went and what I ate was always going to be enticing people to go to these places. Part of it was raising awareness that these places exist. There are a lot of people in Chicago who don’t know about Manny’s or Kaufman’s … people who didn’t grow up in the community.

But the food always had to tell a specific story about the business and the place in the community. It had to relate back into it. Take the Reuben Strudel at Kaufman’s, for example. It wasn’t just that it was good; it was that they were trying to do something different, taking chances, trying to experiment. The same way that the corned beef [at Manny’s] is that family’s legacy, how the flavor of that came from the way the Raskins run the restaurant.

Why do you think people keep coming back to the deli?
The great Jewish delis provide an experience that’s unique and tastier than any sort of sandwich shop. You come here and the owner will see you, and the owner is making sure that the latkes are being made in a certain way, and it’s not a premade mix they get from a box. There are guys in the basement peeling potatoes by hand. It’s crazy! But that’s what makes it delicious. And you get a mix of people in a [deli]. Look around, it’s a total cross section of Chicago, and you don’t really get that in other places.

What struck you about Chicago when you were here researching the book?
Chicago is a great deli town. Not a lot of people, even within the community, know about that. Go out, taste them and dig around – find the great delis.

The other element that I think is really interesting is what happened to the kosher meat industry and the Jewish meat industry in Chicago. At one time, this was the place for meat production in the Midwest. You had brands like Vilno, Best Kosher, Sinai and all within the last year, they’re all gone. And that’s tragic. That’s as much a part of the culture as the deli. And it fits right into the deli story.

It’s funny, people are always asking, “how do you reinvent this culture?” in the greater sense of how do you reinvent Jewish culture. A lot of it is going out and trying crazy new things, and a lot of it as well is just going and figuring out how it used to be done, what was important about that and how you could recapture a lot of that spirit.

What’s next for you?
I don’t know yet. There’s not going to be a sequel to this book that’s about “saving more delis” or about the bagel or something. This was a passion project. One story that I wanted to tell and I felt that I told it as best as I could. There’s been talk about a documentary, but nobody’s signed any checks yet. I’ll see what happens.

Student art exhibit opens at Spertus

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Student artists draw on personal experiences to respond to Spertus exhibit


Student art exhibit opens at Spertus photo 1

Becca Willens explores the influence of the Holocaust in her installation.

Becca Willens respects her roots. Growing up in a small Jewish community in Petoskey, Mich. – where hers was one of five Jewish families in town – Willens learned to cherish community from an early age.

Now a senior studying costume design at Columbia College, Willens translated her understanding of community into an installation displayed at Spertus Museum. The piece is a response to Spertus’ “What Does It Say to You?” exhibit.

Willens and five other Jewish student artists from Columbia College and from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) teamed with Hillel’s Arts in the Loop program and Spertus Museum Director Rhoda Rosen to creatively explore “What Does It Say to You?” and construct physical manifestations of their reactions to the pieces in that exhibit.

The students’ pieces are temporarily installed alongside the main exhibition, and Spertus will host a special viewing from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 20.

Inspired by a Maryan S. Maryan painting and its color scheme, Willens fashioned a scalloped-edge dress festooned with different-color florettes. The edges of the dress are roots and represent “the Holocaust because our roots were ripped out from under us,” Willens said. The dress also features holes with red tulle peeking out from them – the holes represent the lasting effects of the Holocaust because “some of us still don’t know where we came from exactly,” she said. And the florets – in vibrant blues, greens, and reds are the people. They are scattered at the bottom of the dress and condense at the top, representing the re-emergence of the Jewish people from the shadow of the Holocaust, said Willens, who has served as secretary for the Columbia College’s Hillel for the past two years.

“It’s a very personal piece for me,” she said.  “I used materials I had at home for it: antique buttons I used to collect and scraps of fabric from other projects. It forced me to be very selective about what I’m using to fit my theme – growth and unity and how our roots are growing stronger.”

Her contribution is also a memorial to her grandmother, a talented seamstress who passed away while Willens was preparing for the exhibit.

Student art exhibit opens at Spertus photo 2

Sam Eisen’s photographs of his brother, father and grandfather bridge his family and his artistic expression.

Other artists also paid tribute to the importance of roots and family through their work. SAIC senior Sam Eisen used his grandparents’ old Super Dollina camera to take photographs of his brother, father and grandfather. The three men read the same Torah portion for their bar mitzvahs, which Eisen saw as “a rite of passage – a father passing the light to his son,” he wrote in his artist statement. Although he usually uses drawing and painting to express himself, Eisen thought it was important to use the camera because it served as “a symbol of my family giving me the means to be an artist,” he wrote.

Student art exhibit opens at Spertus photo 3

Jennifer Swann contemplates her grandmother’s favorite phrase in her work.

Jennifer Swann’s contemplation of her Yiddish-speaking grandmother’s favorite phrase, “it’s your America,” led her to respond creatively to seeing a Yiddish typewriter in the Spertus collection. Although she originally wanted to use the typewriter in her installation, she ended up using an English-language machine. She typed out her grandmother’s phrase over and over, copied the sheets and plastered an 8-foot by 15-foot column with the results. Her installation also features a video of her typing out the words.

“[‘It’s your America’] is something my grandma still says that to me all the time, whenever I do something crazy,” said Swann, a junior at SAIC. “I was thinking of ways to materialize that expression because I wanted people to interpret for what it meant to them.”

Also on view was an installation by Max Gutnick, who explored the connection between the physical and the spiritual by building a sensory deprivation room-like experience. He was responding to photocopy transfers by Cheselyn Amato, but wanted to create a structural three-dimensional piece as both a response and a contrast.

“Whenever you analyze yourself or the world, you get glimpses of perfection and different glances at truth, different types of truth, and you are constantly distracted from your contemplation,” said Gutnick, a senior at SAIC, who usually works in visual design. “The idea was that you have to practice to gain a stronger spiritual connection because there’s always going to be distraction in the physical world.”

All the student artists met to discuss their creative process on a weekly basis, contributing to each other’s pieces, brainstorming ideas on materials and evaluating each other’s progress.

“It was definitely a collaborative experience,” Swann said. “For me, I had this loose idea of having this expression, but didn’t know what form it was going to tak,e so just bouncing back ideas and coming into the actual space influenced me.”

Once the student artists’ projects are no longer on view, Spertus’ “What Does It Say to You?” exhibit will continue its interaction with viewers through March 14, 2010. Videos of people’s reactions are on display throughout the gallery, and visitors can leave comments to be read by future viewers.

“‘What Does It Say to You?’ invites viewers to respond without being told by curators what that response should be. It’s about direct engagement with the objects [in the exhibit],” said Rosen, the Museum director.

Hillel and Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies are partners in serving our community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. It’s not too late to help fund wonderful organizations like Hillel, Spertus and JUF.  Make a donation for 2009 NOW!

Recessionista Dinner Party

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In these trying economic times, socializing can become a challenge. Restaurants are still expensive, and if you want a nice leisurely evening, with an appetizer or salad, an entrée, and a cocktail or glass of wine you can easily be out $50 with tax and tip, and lord help you if you want a dessert or a second beverage.

Entertaining at home is often much more affordable. For the price of a nice glass of wine in a restaurant, you can get a decent bottle that will serve five people. For the price of that two-course meal out, you can serve six to eight people at home! As we head into the holiday season, I thought I’d weigh in with some economical ideas for entertaining at home.

First, make friends with someone at your local wine store. There are surprisingly good wines for $7-$10 a bottle, and once you find the ones you like, it takes the pressure off stocking up for a party, or bringing a couple of bottles to someone else’s fete. Punch is making a comeback—a very affordable alternative to setting up a bar. My recipe for Gin Punch, below, can also be made with vodka.

When it comes to hosting, keep a few things in mind:

Plan to have three or four things in abundance for dinner and keep your pre-dinner nibbles simple, unlike expensive, time-consuming cheese platters and fancy hor d’ouevres. Pretzels and popcorn are much easier and less expensive. If you prefer something more substantial, stick to something minimal like hummus with snap peas and pita chips or baby carrots and potato chips and your favorite sour-cream dip.

Let your guests bring bread, wine, and desserts—all readily available and inexpensive—and they’ll be happy to have a duty.

For dinner, explore alternative cuts of meat. Chicken is always a crowd pleaser, but with boneless breasts running at $5-$7 a pound, it can get pricy, plus they’re very easy to overcook. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are a great bargain at $1.50-$2.50 a pound, and they’re good for stewing and braising, so the busy host doesn’t have to stay tethered to the stove to prevent disaster. Want to do a fancy roast of beef? Stay away from prime rib and tenderloin roasts at upwards of $18 a pound, and try an eye of round roast, usually closer to $4 a pound. Your local butcher can steer you toward other great cuts, especially those for slower cooking.

Sides are your friends at a dinner party, especially on a budget. Portion expensive protein for single servings, but bulk up the sides for people who might want seconds. Rice and pasta, both very inexpensive, can easily be spruced up with of herbs and spices or stir-ins to be elegant and delicious. For vegetables, double up, one green and one other, to really fill out the plate. Avoid those tempting but pricy spears of asparagus, and go for the green leafy stuff…kale, collards, turnip and mustard greens, all easy to make and inexpensive. Economical root veggies like parsnip, carrot, turnip, and celery root get caramelized and delicious quickly in a hot oven.

For a sample menu, try the recipes below! All serve up to eight people pretty generously, and the TOTAL cost is about $60 (if you have basic staples on hand).

You provide:
Gin Punch
Herbed popcorn
Celery and Apple Salad
Chicken in Vinegar
Pasta with Chives and Lemon
Braised Kale and Collard Greens with Apple and Caraway
Roasted Root Vegetables

Have your friends bring:
Red and White Wine

Gin Punch

Simple Syrup:
One pound sugar mixed with one cup of water and heated over low heat till dissolved. Add 1/8 oz. orange flower water if you like.

Peel two lemons with as little white pith as possible. Put peels in large bowl and cover with one 750 ml bottle of good gin. Press peels lightly with muddler or ladle. Let sit for 30 minutes. Add one cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 cup of simple syrup and stir. Add 1 ½ liters of club soda or sparkling water and one lemon sliced into thin wheels. If it is too tart add more simple syrup.

Herbed Popcorn

3 T peanut oil
¾ cup popcorn kernels
3 T nutritional yeast (with dietary supplements at Whole Foods or health food stores; adds a nutty flavor like parmesan cheese that pairs great with popcorn)
1 tsp. ground mustard powder
1 ½ tsp. salt (and more to taste)
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves (or herbes de Provence or Italian herb mix)
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all the spices and herbs with the nutritional yeast in a small bowl. 

Put oil and popcorn in a large pot, shake to be sure all the kernels are coated, cover pot with tight-fitting lid and turn the stove burner on high. Leave the pot alone until you hear the popping slow down, and then give it a shake or two to make sure all the kernels get popped. When the popping slows to three seconds between pops, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and pour the popcorn in a bowl large enough to mix it around easily. Sprinkle hot popcorn with about 1/3 of the yeast/spice mix and toss thoroughly. Taste. Add more yeast mix and salt until you get the flavor you want. Then let the popcorn sit uncovered at room temperature until completely cool. Store in Ziploc bags or Tupperware containers for up to 36 hours.
You can toast on sheet pans in a 400 degree oven for 3-4 minutes to recrisp or to serve warm.

Celery Green Apple Salad

2 heads celery with hearts, cleaned, sliced on the diagonal in long pieces about ¼ inch thick
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
½ lb. parmesan shavings
Juice of one lemon
¼- 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken in Vinegar

3-4 lbs. chicken thighs and drumsticks
2 T olive oil
6 T unsalted margarine
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 medium shallots, peeled and minced
1/2 cup red wine or sherry vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
1 T honey
1 heaping T tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 T thyme
1 T fresh chopped parsley

Season chicken to taste with salt and pepper. Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of the margarine in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides; you may need to do this in batches, removing them when done and setting aside on a plate. Pour off all but a thin coating of fat from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and garlic, cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and wine to the pan with the honey and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid by about one-third, about 3-5 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste. Add the stock, the nutmeg and thyme and the browned chicken, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Simmer the chicken, turning and basting every 10 minutes or so, for about 45 minutes, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Remove chicken from the pan and set aside again. Increase the heat to medium-high, continue cooking until the sauce is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Cut remaining margarine into small pieces. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in margarine one piece at a time. Adjust seasoning; add salt and pepper and additional vinegar if needed—it should taste smooth but still a little bit tart. Return chicken to the pan, turning to coat evenly with the sauce. Serve hot.

Pasta with lemon and chives

1 lb. extra wide egg noodles
6 T unsalted butter, melted
Zest and juice of one lemon
One bunch chives, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook noodles in salted water according to package directions.  Drain and stir in butter, lemon juice and zest and chives along with one ladle of the pasta cooking water.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Braised Kale and Collards with Apples and Caraway Seeds

2 T olive oil
3 T finely chopped red onion
1 lb. kale, washed and chopped into large pieces
1 lb. collard greens, washed, stemmed, chopped into large pieces
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
3 T sherry vinegar
2 T honey
1 tsp. salt
1/8 to ¼ tsp. caraway seeds

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and slightly golden. Add kale and collards, apple, vinegar, honey, salt, and caraway seeds; then cover pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are very soft but not falling apart, about 40 minutes to an hour.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and cut into 1-inch chunks:
4-6 carrots 1 large celery root
4-6 parsnips
4 turnips
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into eighths

Toss all of the above with 1/3 cup olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, 1 T dried thyme and put on baking sheet in one layer.

Roast for about 40 minutes to an hour, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden and crispy outside and soft inside.

Gelt without guilt

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Eight ways to give gifts that give back this Chanukah

Gelt without guilt Holiday Card

© 2008 Robert Kusel

It’s almost time to watch the candles burning bright in the menorah, but it’s more important than ever that Chanukah doesn’t burn a hole in our pockets. If you’re looking to do something meaningful (and cheap) for your family and friends this Chanukah, take a look at some of these great ideas and volunteer opportunities:

1) Volunteer

The JUF TOV Volunteer Network's winter calendar of one-time volunteer projects, Merry Mitzvot, offers many opportunities to give back during the holiday season. From sorting donations to serving food, you are sure to find a way to make your holidays more meaningful. Sign-ups are open now and projects run through Friday, January 1, 2010!

Gelt without guilt TOV volunteer

© 2008 Robert Kusel

Here are just a few:

• Pick up Chanukah and Christmas gift donations at parishes, schools or businesses in the city and suburbs and help distribute them to recipient families through the Cathedral Shelter of Chicago. The Shelter’s mission is to minister with love and compassion among and with the most vulnerable of our community—particularly those who suffer from addiction—through crisis intervention, addiction recovery, community assistance and life-skills development.

• Sort and take inventory of toy donations, process gift request forms and fill orders for Catholic Charities’ Celebration of Giving, a month-long effort to collect gifts for many of the children and families served by Catholic Charities. This 59-year tradition brings the spirit of the holidays to agency clients who struggle with desperate and crisis situations, by creating a memorable holiday season for the nearly 12,000 children served through the Toy Shower and the 500 families assisted through Sponsor-a-Family.

2) Donate

• Send gifts, checks (of any size) or find other ways to give something small to your eight favorite charities—one for each night.

3) Get creative

• Instead of fighting the crowds at Macy’s and Nordstrom this year, make your gifts yourself. This can be a great project to do with kids. For some fun ideas, visit www.creativejewishmom.com.

• Fill holiday bags with toiletries and decorate cards to be distributed to clients of the JUF Uptown Cafe  at Christmas brunch Sunday, Dec. 20 at the JUF headquarters, 30 S. Wells St.

Gelt without guilt Holiday Bags

© 2008 Robert Kusel

4) Help out a friend

Do you know someone battling illness, struggling with the economy, or taking care of a new baby? Help them out this Chanukah by preparing dinner, offering to babysit or just giving them some time to relax.

5) Be a friend

• The Friend Center, located at 1601 Lake Cook Road, is home to 35 people with early Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments. Volunteers are needed to escort residents and serve refreshments at the center’s Chanukah party Tuesday, Dec. 15, and New Year’s Eve party Thursday, Dec. 31.

6) Help someone dress for success

• Bottomless Closet, located at 445 N. Wells St., provides professional clothing, job readiness and post-employment training and coaching services to women on assistance and working-poor women. Help sort clothing inventory into categories: designer, professional, and unsuitable, Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Gelt without guilt Bottomless Closet

© 2008 Robert Kusel

7) Spread holiday cheer

• The Night Ministry connects with Chicago’s vulnerable youth and adults, providing basic supplies, self-care supplies, free health care, housing and supportive services for youth, referrals to other resources, and more. Volunteers are needed to set up, prepare and serve food to clients, facilitate activities, distribute stockings, and clean up at the Night Ministry’s holiday party Thursday, Dec. 17 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1218 W. Addison, Chicago.

• Process, sort, and organize donated gifts for The ARK’s clients from the Chanukah Gift Wishes program Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 6450 N. California.

8) Pay a visit

• Play bingo and socialize with the residents of the Brentwood North Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which has provided long-term, sub-acute and rehabilitation services for over 100 residents for more than 25 years. Volunteers are needed for the evening of Monday, Dec. 21 at 3705 Deerfield Road.

• Chabad/Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Visitation Program meets every Friday to pack and deliver Shabbat packages to Jewish patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 E. Huron. Volunteers are needed for Dec. 4, 11 and 18.

Sign up to volunteer  or learn more about TOV’s Merry Mitzvot program at  www.juf.org .

Katie's Story

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You may be the one to save her life 

Katie's Story photo

My sister desperately needs your help.  Please read her story  and consider registering by attending one of the upcoming drives (listed at the end of this story) or going to http://join.marrow.org/4katie.

My sister, Katie, is 26 years old and has been through more in the past year and a half than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime.  In spring of 2008, one week after her 25th birthday, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Our lives were turned upside down.  Unresponsive to chemotherapy, she and my mother, Nancy Meacham, moved to Houston, TX in order for Katie to receive treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  She underwent an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, which put her in remission.  Upon returning to New York, she became heavily involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  She has become a friend and resource to countless others battling cancer.

Just after celebrating a year cancer-free, Katie received the devastating news this past September that she has relapsed.  My heart broke.  Yet, she met this news with the same courage, determination and hope that she held throughout her initial diagnosis and treatment.  I wished, as I have many times, that I could make this illness just disappear.  Her strength of spirit inspires me everyday.

Doctors have said her best chance at long term recovery and survival is for her to undergo an Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, meaning now she needs blood stem cells from a matching donor since her own blood stem cells didn’t keep the cancer away.  I am begging for your help.  You may be the one to save my sister, or one of the other 6,000 people searching for a life-saving match each day.

Right now, of the 14 million people currently registered to donate, not a single one is a match for Katie.  This is due in part to her unique genetic make-up which includes the Jewish A69 gene (from her mother, of Middle Eastern European Jewish descent) as well as genes from her non-Jewish father who is of German and English ancestry.  Although it is more likely that her match will have a similar background, it is certainly not compulsory.

Registering involves answering a brief set of medical history questions, then swabbing your cheek with special Q-tips, which are provided to you by the testing service.  It is free and painless.  If a donor is called upon to donate, 70% of the time the procedure involves removing blood from one arm through a needle, collecting the stem cells from the blood, and returning the blood to the donor through a needle in the other arm.  It only takes the donor a short time to replenish their stem cell supply.

Additionally, we are trying to spread the word amongst families with babies on the way, that the blood from the umbilical cord of a newborn, which is typically discarded, can also be given to a public cord bank, where it could potentially reach a patient in need.  Learn more about cord blood donation.

Both of these procedures require so little of the donor, and mean absolutely everything to the recipient.  We are desperate to find a match for our Katie, and hope that you will consider registering to become a donor by attending one of the donor drives or registering online.  If you aren’t a match for my sister, you could be a match for one of the thousands of others in need, who are holding out hope that the next new donor will be the one who saves their life.

Over the next couple weeks, donor drives are being held throughout Chicago in which the entire registry process can be completed on-site.  Details are below.  It takes six weeks to get in the database and sadly cancer does not wait for paperwork to be filed, so please do it now.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009 8:00pm-9:00pm
Chicago, IL
Birthright Participant Registration @ JUF
30 S. Wells St., 6th floor
Chicago, IL  60606
(312) 673-2350
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 12:00pm-4:00pm
Chicago, IL
Loyola University Hillel
Mundelein Center-Room 821
1020 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL  60660
(773) 508-2193
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 4:00pm-7:00pm
Northbrook, IL
Temple Beth-El
3610 Dundee Road
Northbrook, IL 60062
(847) 205-9982
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

Thursday, December 3, 11:00am-2:30pm
Chicago, IL
JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (EMPLOYEES ONLY)
30 S. Wells St., Rooms 6117-6118
Chicago, IL  60606
(312) 673-2350
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

Friday, December 4, 2009 10:00am-3:00pm
Chicago, IL
UIC Hillel
Levine Hillel Center
924 S. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL  60607
(312) 357-6922
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org 

Saturday, December 5, 2009 10:00am-12:00pm
Elmhurst, IL
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Kickoff Event
York Community H.S.
355 W St Charles Rd
Elmhurst, IL 60126
CONTACT: Danielle Vickers (LifeSource): dvickers@itxm.org

Sunday, December 6, 2009 8:30am-1:30pm
Chicago, IL
Emanuel Congregation
5959 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660-3643
(773) 561-5173
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

Sunday, December 6, 2009 11:00am-1:00pm
Chicago, IL
Anshe Emet Synagogue (during Hannukah party)
3751 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613-4104
(773) 281-1423
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 10:00am-5:00pm
Chicago, IL
Spertus Institute
610 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605-1901
(312) 322-1700
Lobby and 2nd level
CONTACT: ErinJones@juf.org

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