"Yossele the Shoemaker" Of Lombard Street Prepares for Shabbos - Baltimore, 1922

By BaltimoreJewishLife.com/Eli W. Schlossberg

Posted on 09/09/11

Baltimore, MD - Sept 9 - Last night I gave a presentation at the Baltimore Jewish Museum covering the history of Jewish owned food businesses from the early 1900's to the present. It was part of the current display at the museum on the theme "Voices of Lombard Street." The museum and its staff must be commended for the outstanding project they have created in depicting the Lombard Street of the early 1900s.

Around 65-75 foodies and Museum members gathered on this wet, rainy night to learn about the history of food companies that were started in Baltimore and were the entrepreneurial efforts of European and Russian immigrants who came to Maryland, the "Goldeneh Medinah" of the Chesapeake Bay. I discussed the history of Food-a-Rama, a chain of 48 stores started by the Diamond and Schuster Families.

We also discussed the history of Giant Food, started by a rabbi and kosher butcher, Nechemia Cohn, who came to Pennsylvania from Palestine and opened grocery stores in Maryland, Washington DC, and later in Virginia and Delaware. We discussed a tiny grocery store, Jack's, on Park Heights Ave. located in the Pimlico area that would merge with M&M Poultry which would later become the Boehm and Gutman Seven Mile Market, which is perhaps the world's largest kosher supermarket.

We discussed all of the Baltimore delis - many kosher style eateries as well as the authentic kosher Leibes Deli on Rogers Avenue, B. Green and Company, Smelkinson, Saval Foods, Shapiro's, Eddie's, Knish Shop, and Edmart, as well as other retail and wholesale food businesses in Baltimore. Some in the audience were offspring of these family owned businesses and had a great deal to add.

I opened the program strumming my guitar in full costume, as "Yoselle," the bearded pious shoemaker in 1922, shopping for Shabbos down on Lombard Street's open marketplace. At that time there were over 60 shochtim (ritual slaughterers), selling chickens, and businesses like Tulkoff's Horseradish, Silber's Bakery, Cohen's Coddies, Weiss Deli, Attman's Deli (kosher style, but not kosher) all selling their delicious treats in the busy Jewish markets on Lombard Street. We reminisced about Suburban Club Almond Smash Soda and Cohen Coddies - both Baltimore home-made favorites back in the day. We served some of these treats like Seven Mile Coddies, plus Tulkoff Tiger sauce and yummy Narron Candy chocolates, all Baltimore delicacies.

At the end of the program I asked the very religiously diverse audience to close their eyes and think back to Friday night the state of Shabbos back on Lombard Street of 1922. Squawking chickens were now quiet, the market was hushed and women throughout East Baltimore were benching licht, praying for their families with the aroma of their cholent wafting through Exeter and High Streets. Well-dressed men with their sons were walking to shul on Lloyd Street to welcome the Shabbos. Returning to their small East Baltimore shtetl and a Shabbos table beautifully adorned with challahs and wine, they would sing Shalom Aleichem with their families. And so the East Baltimore shtetl welcomed Shabbos!

As the audience sat closed-eyed, swaying, and imagining the scene, I began to play my guitar and sing Shalom Aleichem. I was thrilled as all joined in and sang with me the beautiful traditional tune and the diverse religious group reached a. beautiful crescendo in chorus. For that one moment we all welcomed Shabbos down on Lloyd Street once again the way Yossele the pious shoemaker and all those immigrants celebrated the Shabbos back in 1922. That was the evening's finest moment!