Following the July 8 announcement that Cleveland will be recommended as the site for the 2016 Republican National Convention, public officials and business leaders celebrated the fact that the four-day event will bring the national spotlight – as well as thousands of visitors – to Northeast Ohio.
Among those visitors, it stands to reason, will be a number of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 40,000 nationwide members.
With that in mind, and in an effort to help Jewish visitors experience the region the way we as natives do, here are 10 things those planning a visit to Cleveland should keep in mind:
• Shalom! You’ll be welcomed by 80,800 friendly faces, which is how many Jews live in the region, according to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s 2011 Greater Cleveland Jewish Population Study. Combine that with population estimates of the Akron-Canton region, and some projections rank Northeast Ohio as the 11th-most populous Jewish metropolitan region in the United States. In fact, the East Side suburb of Beachwood alone is 90 percent Jewish.
• With so many Jews calling Cleveland home, synagogues – Conservative, Orthodox, Modern Orthodos, Reform and everything in between – are plentiful, particularly in eastern suburbs like Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, Pepper Pike and Solon. If you’re staying in downtown Cleveland, be sure to check out Chabad of Downtown Cleveland.
• Hungry and want a kosher bite to eat? Consider Issi’s Place, Kinneret Kosher Pizza, Jerusalem Grille and Sabara Cuisine. Have a sweet tooth? Kosher pastries can be found at Lax and Mandel Bakery and Unger’s Kosher Market. All of these locations are in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs.
• Worried your hotel gym will be too busy? Don’t miss a workout by joining other members of the community at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood, which among other things features a kosher Subway restaurant.
• While you’re at the Mandel JCC, visit the David Berger National Memorial, an outdoor sculpture that serves as the only U.S. memorial commemorating the terrorism at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Berger, a Shaker Heights native who as a weightlifter joined the Israeli Olympic team that year, was one of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered.
• Those interested in Jewish history, religion and culture would be remiss if they didn’t visit the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood. With a mission to “share Jewish heritage through the lens of the American experience,” the museum offers engaging, state-of-the-art exhibits.
• In Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood, which is home to many of the city’s world-renowned art and cultural institutions, visitors will find two more historic points of interest: the Hebrew Cultural Garden – one of 29 cultural gardens along scenic Martin Luther King Boulevard, and the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland Jewish Archives.
• Architecture buffs can stop by Park Synagogue Main in Cleveland Heights, famously designed by German Expressionist architect Eric Mendelsohn, or The Temple-Tifereth Israel’s University Circle location, which has a sanctuary named after influential Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the latter is today used only for High Holy Day services, neighboring Case Western Reserve University is transforming it into a performing arts center.
• Young professionals looking to connect with fellow 20- and 30-somethings can check out about 10 Jewish YP groups in Cleveland, including Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Young Leadership Division, JCLE and Moishe House Cleveland.
• Want to know what’s happening in Northeast Ohio’s Jewish community when you arrive and while you’re here? Pick up a copy of that week’s Cleveland Jewish News. The CJN is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as an independent source of news and commentary for Jewish interests, and two years from now, the newspaper will continue to serve as the publication of record for the area’s thriving Jewish community. Don’t want to wait until 2016? Find out what’s happening in Cleveland right now – or at any time – by visiting cjn.org.