Contributed by: Daniel Wenger | Last Date of Travel: Fall 2007
Major Towns: Deal, East Brunswick, Edison, Elizabeth, Highland Park
Up and Coming: New Brunswick, Linden, Long Branch
Kosher Info: Supermarkets throughout the area feature large Kosher sections, and many store-brand items are certified. Central Jersey is a bit more spread out than its northern counterpart, so there are often itervening areas with little Jewish/Kosher interaction. But fear not – the next Kosher restaurant can’t be more than 15 minutes away.
Elizabeth (and its surrounding towns like Hillside and Union) rally around Elmora Avenue, including a pizza store, Chinese resrtaurant, and of course, Dunkin Donuts.
Edison / Highland Park
Edison and Highland Park are run through by Raritan Avenue, where you can find pizza, Mei Garden Chinese, the Glatt 27 mini-mart, and some other ever-changing selections of milk and meat. Rutgers University students come over the bridge from New Brunswick to take part in all this, especially the Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins combo store, though they have been know to take a drive westward to Manville and Lin’s Kosher Chinese instead. The alternative for them is the Kosher meal plan at the Chabad house on campus.
The Deal community is a bit farther southeast by the coast, but has a large community and a few neighboring towns to bolster it. Offerings include the standards: pizza, Chinese, and a more upscale Mediterranean place, with some smaller Milchig (dairy) shops as well. Some will travel farther south towards Lakewood, but that’s another community altogether.
Tourist Info: The Jewish communities are generally more inland residential, but nearby minor attractions (bowling, ice skating, etc.) are close at hand. If you’re in Deal or Long Branch, or can get farther east, you’re already by the Atlantic coast. North is New York City, south is Atlantic City, and southwest is Philadelphia, each with a myriad of visitable locations of its own.
Jewish Info: Central NJ is more open and spread-out area, so the communities are not always inter-navigable. The Elizabeth and Highland Park areas have several Shul options and have their own schools, though some have been known to utilize northern NJ schools and vice versa. Deal is a largely Syrian community, upscale and very active.
New Brunswick, which used to be the cornerstone of central Jersey Jewry, is now limited to one synagogue (the rest moved to Highland Park), but has the benefit on being home to Rutgers students. The Chabad and Hillel houses on campus run daily Minyanim and Shabbat activities while school is in session.