Guest Article by Susan L. Rosenbluth, The Jewish Voice and Opinion, Englewood, NJ
Formatted / Edited by PatentlyJewish.com .
There is an old booster song for Ventnor, NJ that calls the seashore community “the greatest place on earth to live,” in part because of its boating, bathing, and fishing. While Ventnor has long enjoyed an active Jewish community, it has become much more observant-friendly over the past few years, in large part due to a dynamic, very successful Chabad organization. Chabad at the Shore is based in Ventnor proper, but two other Orthodox shuls are located in Margate (Young Israel of Margate and Zichron Trocki M’Vilna) and one is in Atlantic City (Rodef Shalom). These three communities, along with small, sleepy Longport, make up Absecon Island, an 8-mile barrier island, located less than two-and-a-half hours from the George Washington Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel. Atlantic City, of course, is the commercial and tourist hub of the island and the area in general.
Cong Rodef Shalom (which really is walking distance to the casinos) is located at 4609 Atlantic Ave in Atlantic City. It spiritual leader is Rabbi Max Fox, and the phone number is 609-345-4580.
The Young Israel of Margate is led by Rabbi Shalom Ever, who can be reached at 609-287-2412, 609-823-3630, or 702-673-7180. The shul is located at 8401 Ventnor Ave.
Zichron Jack Trocki M’Vilna is a shtiebel which operates only on Shabbos. The shul, located at 8223 Fulton Ave in Margate, can be reached through Chabad.
Encompassed within Zichron Jack Trocki M’Vilna is the community’s Mikvah Israel, which is run by Chabad and available by appointment. The number is 609-992-4900.
Ventnor, which is directly south of Atlantic City, is within walking distance (well, a long walk) to virtually all of Atlantic City’s casinos and attractions. Like Atlantic City, Ventnor—as opposed to Margate and Longport—boasts a superb boardwalk. As opposed to the one in Atlantic City, the Ventnor boardwalk is a pristine, commercial-free promenade, perfect for hiking, bike riding, and delicious strolling while enjoying sea breezes.
There is a wonderful public library, right on the beach, which is part of the community’s cultural center. There, in air-conditioned comfort, classes, workshops, and performances are frequently offered. The community has delightful playgrounds on the beach for children.
In Ventnor, only four or five fairly large blocks separate the ocean from the bay, and, on the bay, visitors will find places to rent boats as well as fishing gear. The beach in Ventnor is well-guarded with an enviable safety record. Children—and adults—learn quickly that the lifeguards’ commands, issued by loud, attention-must-be-paid whistles, are to be taken seriously. As opposed to some of the more expensive beaches up north, Ventnor offers beach badges for $15 for the season (before June 1, they are $7 for the season and $3.50 for senior citizens) and a weekly badge for $10. There is no fee for children under 16. The badges are valid for use in Ventnor and Margate.
Chabad offers many activities for both the local community and the area’s many visitors.
Jewish Summer Fest: On a Sunday in August, there is a Jewish Summer Fest and Concert, featuring food, music, and art right on the beach. According to Chabad’s affable and indefatigable Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport, participants will “enjoy an exciting and entertaining evening of pulsating Jewish music, featuring the Yellow Red Sky Band, hands-on crafts, children’s rides, games, and face-painting, as well a delicious kosher BBQ offering hotdogs, burgers, and more.”
Every day during the summer, from 10am-1pm, Chabad offers Jewish-themed arts-and-crafts programs for children, and, on Fridays, at 10am, there are challah-baking workshops.
One additional service offered through Chabad is babysitting, available throughout the week and on weekends, except, normally, for Shabbat. “We offer a frum babysitter to watch your children,” says Rabbi Rapoport. The number to call is 609-992-5522.
Chabad was instrumental in establishing the community’s eruv, which includes parts of Margate as well as Ventnor. For more information on its exact borders and which of the local motels and inns are covered, contact Chabad at 609-822-8500, 609-992-4100, or 609-992-4900.
The Chabad shul is located at 6412 Ventnor Avenue.
There are several kosher restaurants in the area. In Ventnor itself, there is the pricey—but good—Jerusalem Glatt Kosher, a meat restaurant which has been in business since 1996. In addition to restaurant service, the Benshitrit family owners will provide meals for Shabbat and will deliver. Located at 6410 Ventnor Ave, the phone number is 609-822-2266.
Next door, at 6414 Ventnor Ave, the Benshitrits run a dairy restaurant, Aroma Bistro, which can be reached at 609-822-4111.
Jerusalem Glatt Kosher and Aroma Bistro are under the supervision of Rabbi Shalom Ever of the Young Israel of Margate.
Bubbie’s Bistro, a dairy and parve restaurant, which serves phenomenal pizza as well as other main courses and desserts, most with an Italian-Mediterranean flavor. It’s a great place to go for a resort breakfast. Run by Tuvya and Elisheva Stern, Bubbie’s, which is under the kashruth supervision of Star K, was named for Tuvya’s own bubbie who came to Atlantic City with her family in the early 1900s and established a grocery and food emporium. Influenced by an Italian neighbor, she learned to “kosherize” Italian specialties.
“Some of these same recipes have been passed down to us and are part of what we are offering today,” says Mr. Stern. Bubbie’s is located at 5204 Ventnor Ave and can be reached at 609-822-7200.
In 2012, the Pennsylvania-based Burger.Org Glatt Kosher chain opened a branch in Margate at 8409 Ventnor Ave. As the name suggests, it specializes in burgers—beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, and veggie—which can be offered in plain and spicy versions along with sweet potato fries, mixed salads, and hummus plates. Jersey shore aficionados may flip when they find out Burger.Org also offers, in addition to other sandwiches, a Philly Steak sandwich (a quintessentially treif submarine traditionally made with thin-cut tenderloin or sirloin steak and fresh provolone). Burger.Org, which can be reached at 609-350-7039, is under the supervision of Keystone-K, Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia.
Atlantic City boasts a Kof-K-supervised Ben & Jerry’s at 1901 Boardwalk and an OK-supervised James’ Candy at 1519 Boardwalk (609-344-1519).
All in all, a great place to come for a vacation. Enjoy!