Mitz-Vote

In a Suburban Chicago Diner, A Bitter Taste

By Ethan Michaeli

  • Print
  • Share Share

SKOKIE, ILL. — Politics and economics were on the menu Tuesday at Ken’s Diner, a kosher restaurant on Dempster Street, the commercial heart of the Chicago suburb of Skokie. With a widely held, well-deserved reputation for the world’s best hamburgers, Dan Hechtman, co-owner and brother of the eponymous Ken, measures the nation’s economic health through his customers’ habits.

“Customers who came three times a week now come one time a week,” he said. “Guys who were making $60,000 or $70,000 are now making $20,000 or $30,000. We still count them as working but this is a silent number that isn’t reflecting how bad things are.”

An observant Jew who sends his oldest daughter to college and his two school-age children to Jewish day schools, Hechtman says that many other observant Jews are feeling the pinch of the bad economy because of the extra expense of private school. “Jews will put their lives on the line for their children’s education. We get scholarships, loans and live on credit cards. We feel it more than anyone else.”

If Hechtman and other observant Jews carry an additional burden in these tough economic times, he shared with many other Americans a disgust with the negativity of the current campaign and a sense that Democrats led by President Obama are ultimately responsible.

“Obama ran on a platform of ending the war and change,” Hechtman said. “He never got us out of the war and change is what we have left in our pocket.”

For Democratic activist Leah Yarrow, Skokie was a battleground where she was seeking to gain ground. Interviewed in the campaign office of Daniel Biss, a Jewish Democratic candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives, Yarrow said she spent her day driving voters to the polls and taking lunches to poll workers.

Although her candidate’s numbers looked good Tuesday afternoon, Yarrow said that the general mood of the electorate had shifted decisively against the Democrats and President Obama.

“I canvassed for Obama two years ago,” Yarrow recalled. “I was inspired and had more faith in the electorate — even with people who disagreed with me. “Now I think there’s a divisiveness. People are quick to be divided and be angry.”

That polarization is especially acute in the Jewish community and is particularly visible in the 9th Congressional District that includes Skokie. There, Republican challenger Joel Pollak has accused incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky of being too supportive of the Obama administration’s policy on Israel. Noting that Schakowsky has positive reviews from the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, Yarrow said she is dismayed by Pollak’s critique, casting it as a cynical attempt to pit Jew against Jew. “I’ve been horrified as a Jewish American at the way Mr. Pollak seized on this issue to divide the Jewish community,” she said.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jan Schakowsky, Joel Pollak

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.