Contributed by: Daniel Wenger | Last Dates of Travel: [Author grew up in N. NJ]
Major Towns: Englewood, Fair Lawn, Teaneck, West Orange
Up and Coming: Bergenfield, Fort Lee, Paramus, Passaic
Kosher Info: Supermarkets throughout the area feature large Kosher sections, and many store-brand items are certified. The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (RCBC) is the local certifying agency that handles the supermarkets, restaurants, etc.
Teaneck is widely considered to be the epicenter of Jewish – and Kosher – life in northern New Jersey. Most of the activity is centered around Cedar Lane to the south and West Englewood Avenue to the north. Food is available at everything from bakeries to cafés to mini-marts.
Some of the selection on Cedar Lane (always subject to change):
- Butterflake Bakery offers Milchig (dairy) and Pareve selections of breads, cakes, cookies, and other fine pastries.
- Pizza Crave is the one remaining pizza store on Cedar Lane after Jerusalem Pizza closed down.
- Ma’adan is Cedar Lane’s Kosher mini-mart, but also provides significant catering services, from their takeout Shabbat deli and hot food counters to fully-staffed Bar Mitzvas.
- Noah’s Ark deli (and now really also a grill) is a classic by all standards. I still crave their sliced steak sandwich, and even the salami on rye just tastes better there. Bonus points for supplying half-sour pickles. Its sister…er, wife Shelly’s dairy restaurant, now in Noah’s Ark’s original location, offers a decent selection, but has always lacked something when you compare it to the main event.
- A trip to Cedar Lane is always well topped off with a trip to Fancy Delights, where I have been known to buy enough sugar to last me a month but eat within a week.
West Englewood Avenue continues to grow as the Jewish high schools and young married apartments continue to be filled. Local offerings include:
- Glatt Express has been the Kosher supermarket of the area for many many years, providing regular groceries (milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, cereal, etc.) as well as large bakery, meat, cheese, and specialty Kosher sections.
- EJ’s Pizza is all that’s left for pizza after Plaxza Pizza closed (that’s right, there used to be 4 pizza stores n Teaneck!)
- The Pasta Factory is upscale Milchig, and the nearby Rabica Café is a similar but smaller version for your fish and grain needs.
- Chopstix chinese takeout has been a staple of Shabbat meals in Teaneck and now also West Orange.
- Dougie’s BBQ and grill. Need I say more?
Englewood is a fancier, more spread out town, so once you’re driving anyway, you might as well go to Teaneck. Nonetheless, there are several Kosher food suppliers there, and some Milchig (dairy) hangouts to boot.
Fair Lawn is significantly westward down Route 4, so coming to the Teaneck/Englewood/Bergenfield area isn’t always easy. As such, in addition to the local supermarkets, they offer a self-standing bakery, Chinese takeout, and a Pita place.
West Orange is an outpost a bit farther south and west, but holds down its own with a couple of restaurants while also being nearby Elizabeth in addition to the Bergen County towns.
If you’re really close to the northern border of NY state, you’ll be nearby Monsey and Spring Valley, NY, which is yet another Jewish headquarters of sorts.
Tourist Info: The most major attraction near northern NJ is, of course, New York City. New Jersey Transit busses (and sometimes trains) run throughout the area and will take you to Port Authority (42nd Street) or Penn Station. Some will also take you across the George Washington Bridge and points north, which, offer some great senic views along the Palisades.
Shopping can be found everywhere, from the main streets of the towns where you find the restaurants to the sides of the highways which are like really long strip malls. The Garden State Plaza is the major mall in the area. Other family attractions (like batting cages, driving ranges, bowling, etc.) can be found here and there, mostly in the intervening towns (like Hackensack) which have a more commercial/industrial feel to them.
Of the towns listed, you’ll notice how there is no real representation in the western end of the state. Indeed, the major communities are all much closer to New York City, and as you travel west, you see less dense and more wooded areas until you reach Pennsylvania. The farther north and west you go, the more outdoorsy locations will be available to you. See the post on Manhattan, NY.
Jewish Info: So many choices! Given the proximity of these towns to each other, to central NJ, and to New York, the options for Shuls, schools, food, and every other aspect of life are in large supply. Thus the intermingling of communities and their residents is at a much higher rate than other regions, which provides many options for how to raise your family or meet the right person to start your own.
Minyanim meet at all times of the day, and local parks fill up on summer Shabbat afternoons. While one should take care to ensure that the community they are in matches their ideologies, finding such a community is guaranteed, given the extreme variety to be found in the area.