We don’t call it the North End Shtetl for nothing. In the neighborhoods of Ravenna, Wedgwood, and Bryant, you’ll find one of the region’s largest and fastest growing Jewish communities. Synagogues, minyans, bagels, bookstores, and a mikveh serve diverse Jewish needs, and an eruv — an area of land designated as a “community” so traditionally observant Jews may carry items on Shabbat — stretches from Laurelhurst to Lake City Way. Just outside the eruv, the U District and Green Lake contribute to Jewish life in the northeast quadrant of the city. Great for the nerdy intellectual crowd, the North End is super family friendly. The only thing we’re missing is a proper deli — but if Zylberschtein’s comes through in Pinehurst, we’ll be close.
For 30 years, Bagel Oasis has been boiling and baking arguably the best New York-style bagels you can get west of the Rockies, and certainly in the North End. If you want to bump into Jews you know or ones you’d like to meet, stop by on a Sunday morning, and you’ll be sure to see lots of familiar faces in sweatpants and East Coast college sweatshirts waiting to order up a lox and schmear. Same goes for Grateful Bread, which could almost be listed as a North End synagogue. For the exact opposite experience, head to the James Beard award-winning restaurant JuneBaby by chef Edouardo Jordan, where you can delight in exquisite Southern cuisine with a boozy brunch or dinner. Perhaps grab a bagel before you hop in the long line winding down the sidewalk — they don’t take reservations.
Kosher friends can head south along 25th Avenue NE to the University Village Einstein Bagels and QFC. Come the week before Passover, and play “where do they keep the shank bones” with your friends as you prepare for the festival of unleavened bread. U Village also houses the vegetarian joint Veggie Grill — and at least a dozen different stores where you can buy overpriced yoga pants. Seattle natives love to hate U Village and lament the passing of Lamonts, the bowling alley, and Ernst. That doesn’t stop us from shopping and eating there though. Have you tried the dumplings at Din Tai Fung?
The North End bar scene is a combination of dives and decent restaurant bars. For a time warp, head over to the Wedgwood Broiler for non-ironic wood paneling, plaid wallpaper, and reasonably priced cocktails and fresh-popped popcorn.
In addition to established synagogue communities like Congregation Shaarei Tefilah (Chabad), Congregation Beth Shalom (Conservative), and Temple Beth Am (Reform), the North End has a newish Modern Orthodox minyan, Mercaz Seattle, as well as Eitz Or, Seattle’s Jewish Renewal Community. Emanuel Congregation maintains the only egalitarian Orthodox minyan in town, and over in Green Lake, Moishe House provides a post-denominational home for young adults. Parents: both Beth Shalom and Beth Am have licensed Jewish daycare/early learning schools.
The North End is home to the Seattle Jewish Community School, which provides elementary school education with a focus on Jewish values, social-emotional growth, and diversity of Jewish practice and family composition. Also up north is the Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder, a day school that also offers a Jewish Montessori preschool. Exceptional Jewish learning isn’t just for kids. The University of Washington Stroum Center for Jewish Studies offers lectures and the opportunity to take classes with brilliant professors.
If Seattle is the most literate city in America, the North End is the epicenter. Catch an author talk at Third Place Books in Ravenna after browsing through new and used, fiction and non-, or just take a walk around the area neighborhoods and grab a novel from any one of the many Little Free Libraries in folks’ front yards. Hillel at UW also offers plenty of intellectual fodder for students, and along with young adult organization Jconnect it hosts a range of programs from service projects to guest speakers. Also for young adults is Chabad at UW as well as Moishe House, in Green Lake, a communal living and programming space. When the sun is out, swap your book and chai for sneakers and a podcast while you walk around or bike along the Burke-Gilman Trail. The North End is also the perfect place to enjoy Lake Washington, with its great public park at Matthews Beach and a magnificent view from Maple Leaf Reservoir. Magnuson Park now hosts a new night market, outdoor movies, and a family overnight campout in the summertime.