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Jewish Institutions in the Eruv
The Eruv neighborhood relies on several Jewish institutions to maintain both its religious and cultural identity.
The Mikvah- A Mikvah is a pool used for ritual immersion. Jewish law mandates that women immerse themselves in the Mikvah after menstruation, before marriage, and after childbirth. Immersion in the Mikvah is also required for conversion to Judaism for both men and women. Mikvahs are strictly separated by gender. In keeping with this law, there are two mikvahs in St. Louis Park. Because most interpretations of Jewish law mandate that women visit the Mikvah more frequently than men, the women's Mikvah in St. Louis Park is a large stand-alone structure, while the men's Mikvah: Mikvah Ritualarium is a much smaller structure, attached to the Kenesseth Israel synagogue.
Kosher Delis- Observant Jews follow strict dietary guidelines, often called "keeping Kosher." Among the many rules of the Kosher diet is a ban on the consumption of pork and other pig products, shellfish, anything that may contain raw blood, and foods that mix dairy and meat products. Because it is difficult to ascertain that many groceries, processed foods, and foods prepared in non-Kosher households and restaurants have not been contaminated by non-Kosher practices, many ultra-observant Jews will not buy groceries, eat, or drink in any place that is not designated as specifically Kosher. Because there are few Kosher restaurants in the Twin Cities, this restriction makes eating out virtually impossible for observant families. However, two Kosher Delis in St. Louis Park cater specifically to this population. Prime Deli (which serves no dairy) and Vitali's Bistro Café (which serves no meat) offer a friendly environment and a diverse menu to all customers, without the worry of accidentally breaking Kosher regulations. In both delis customers are forbidden from bringing any outside food or beverages into the space, as to maintain the deli's compliance with Kosher law.
The Kosher Spot- Another important resource for those who keep Kosher in the eruv is The Kosher Spot, a small Jewish run Kosher grocery store in town that provides Kosher groceries, including many Israeli and traditionally Ashkenazic foods.
The Minneapolis Community Kollel- A center for Torah and Talmud learning and an important element of an observant Orthodox lifestyle; the Kollel is constantly buzzing with activity. Located next to Bais Yisroel (where many, but certainly not all, of its students are congregants), the Kollel is an important center of Judaic study and religious devotion in the community. Founded in 2000, the Kollel is run by two Rosh Kollels (teachers and leaders), Rabbi Eliyahu Stern, and Rabbi Chaim Gibber.
Frankel's World of Judaica- Frankel's sells Jewish books and other Jewish items. In addition to selling religious and spiritual texts for adults, the store is well stocked with Jewish-themed children's books, DVDs and toys.
Elijah's Cup- Located in a small strip mall in the eruv is Elijah's Cup, a Jewish bookstore that also sells other religious and cultural items, like Kiddush cups and Menorahs. It is a popular shopping destination for religious and non-religious Jews alike, as well as many non-Jews who are interested in the variety of cultural items on display.
In the window, the shop advertises various Jewish cultural items, including a new Mah Jongg standard rules card. A popular parlor game originating in China, Mah Jongg became an American phenomenon in the 1920s. The game quickly faded from popularity but remained very popular with Jewish women. Some such Jewish women founded and continue to run the National Mah Jongg League. Many Jewish organizations and charities sell Mah Jongg cards in exchange for charitable donations from the League. 1
Another advertisement is for a "Must Have" Haggadah, a book used in Passover Seders, advertising a "30 Minute Seder," a stark contrast to the usual seder which often lasts upwards of three hours.
Lewis, Meredith. "Is Mah-Jongg a Jewish Game?" My Jewish Learning. Accessed May 30, 2016. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mah-jongg/. ↩