A Bit About Bagels

My kids like bagels. So we spend time going to bagel shops.

If any of you grew up within 600 miles of New York City, you may know that New York is well known for its bagels. And bagels are often associated with folks of those parts as a “Jewish” food.

Well, it may or may not surprise you to know that in the early days of the State of Israel, the 1950s – 1970s, it was very difficult if not impossible to find a bagel in the Jewish State. I was first in Israel in 1980, and I cannot remember eating bagel while there. I remember pizza, especially Richie’s pizza. But not bagels. Pita, fresh rolls, yes, but I don’t remember bagels.

It was a nice surprise on this past trip to Israel (my fifth time visiting) that we enjoyed not just one but two bagel shops in the city of Jerusalem. At left my son is happily chomping on a poppy seed bagel from Bonkers Bagel in the Old City.

Below you will see my daughter munching a pizza bagel at Holy Bagel on Rechov Yaffo:

How did these bagels shops rate? Hey, they were happy. And that makes mommy happy.

However, the bagel story in our home town of Highland Park, New Jersey is a bit of a sadder tale. We used to have this wonderful bagel shop just over the border in Edison on Rte. 27. They served delicious fresh bagels, and I remember buying the egg salad bagel with tomato and red onion when my son was a mere babe. However, at some point that bagel store departed, and a new one opened in Highland Park. The new bagel shop wasn’t nearly as good as the old one, both for reasons that the bagels weren’t as good and the service was, well, lousy. The new bagel shop changed owners and then closed completely. There is a Bagel Dish Cafe here in Highland Park, but alas, it is not kosher.

Now when we want bagels in Highland Park, we go to: Dunkin’ Donuts!
I should tell you the best part of our Dunkin’ Donuts is great service. Part of the way they give great service is they yell at you if you are chatting online, and it’s your turn to give your order. They keep the line moving fast, and the people behind the counter remember you. And what you ordered last time. The friendly service is quite nice. Personally, my favorite is the multigrain bagel, because of the oatmeal and sunflower seeds on top.

During the school year some teenage boys ran a service where you could order bagels from Teaneck. I don’t know much about the service or about the Teaneck bagels, but as my son will be going to school in Teaneck in September, I expect I might ask him to buy a few bagels for us.

Years ago when my husband and I were dating we used to go to a nice bagel shop on 72nd Street on the West Side in Manhattan. They served bagels, coffee, orange juice and scrambled eggs for one price, and under the glass on the tables were comic strips. Whatever it was called, it probably is no longer there.

In Brookline, Massachusetts (I grew up in nearby Newton) at Kupel’s Bagels on Harvard Street you could get green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day. Probably still can.

Any decent bagel shops where you live?

If you haven’t had enough photos of bagel shops in Jerusalem, visit Dina.

25 thoughts on “A Bit About Bagels

  • Oh wow, what a walk down memory lane that link was – summer of ’85, leaving notes for friends in other Pilgrimage groups at Richie’s Pizza, and I’d completely forgotten about Lalos and Champs. I feel like I just regained a piece of my youth. Wow.

  • PS Love the expression on your daughter’s face, you really captured a moment in time with that one.

    PPS You grew up in Newton? We should really play Jewish geography one of these days. I have cousins in Newton, and my first trip to Israel was with a boatload of people from the area (mainly Peabody but not just).

  • Robin, aren’t you leaving today? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, I’m from Newton, but you are probably ten years younger than me. Just a guess. So Jewish geography may not work as well. Don’t know anyone from Peabody.

  • You can find bagel shops (kosher and not) in Paris now. But that’s a recent addition to the French diet. There are also frozen bagels (made in the US).
    I ate wondeful bagels in a kosher bagel shop in Berlin 4 years ago.
    Have you ever made them?
    Great photos of your kids.

  • Yes, I have made them. They aren’t hard to make, if you know how to make a yeast dough. But my kids kind of lost interest in making them (basically, I took a pretzel recipe and reworked it). Maybe in the winter I’ll do a post on how to make a pretzel. Meanwhile, see Mollie Katzen’s kids cookbook.

  • As a bagel lover, I was thrilled to find that there is a Holy Bagel store here in Modiin. I also think a bagel place opened up in the mall.

    Years ago, I remember being disappointed when someone brought me a “bagele”. It was basically italian bread in a round shape with a hole in it, covered with sesame seeds. Not that it wasn’t delicious, but it wasn’t a bagel.

    (Is the red line indicating wrong spelling a new feature?)

  • Raizy, why thanks.

    Here I thought I wrote a post about bagels; you all seem to be enjoying my kids! ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, Baila gave a little of the Israeli history of Americans being disappointed with Israeli “bagels”.

  • I had to laugh because my husband and I just had this conversation. His parents used to bring bagels when they came to visit. I have yet to find a bagel here that meets his bagel standards. He thinks it’s the NYC water..

  • It’s so nice to go to a shop and the people behind the counter know who you are, and what you like! I try to give that same kind of attention to the people who visit the shop where I work!
    There must be shops in Antwerp who sell bagels, we have a lot of jewish people here, but as I am not one of them, I have never been looking for bagles before, let alone know whether they are kosher or not! Sorry ;-( I wish I knew! But then again, it would be very far for you to come and get one, huh?
    You know what?
    Drop by my blog, I have an award for you!!!
    That shouldn’t be so hard, now, would it?

  • Jientje, what a sweet award! All I do is visit beautiful pictures and write how beautiful. And I enjoy hearing about Belgium. Haloscan is not working; I keep getting server errors. I sent you an email.

  • It goes without saying that your kids are gorgeous. How do they feel about having their pictures on the blog? My kids won’t allow me to do it (although if you look carefully they are in my Sachneh pictures).

  • Ay what memories! I still remember when Bonkers Bagels opened in 1995. They were sooooo clever. They opened just prior to Pesach…closed for the week…and then BAM! Opened in full force as soon as the chag was over. I have NEVER seen such a balagan in all my life!!! Brilliant!!

  • Baila, my two younger have both requested posts (see Webkinz post and Project Black). My Eldest…he doesn’t care for being photographed in general. I don’t have a school photograph from him since 4th grade. But he’s getting a bit better about letting me photograph him. You’ll see more of my younger two.

  • It took awhile for the Israeli bagel outfits to realize that they had to boil their bagels to make them authentic, but now it’s pretty common. (Supermarket bakeries still haven’t gotten it, though). Also, Israeli cheeses, as we know, are fantastic! They really complement the bagels.


  • I do enjoy bagels but won’t be having any for awhile… ๐Ÿ™‚ Besides, I’m sure our bagels here pale in comparison to anything found on the eastcoast. My boss is from NY so he loves a good bagel.

  • The old Israeli bagels, not the sweet ones, were OK.

    Bonkers aren’t real bagels; they’re not pre-boiled. Holy Bagel bought out The Bagel House/Beit HaBagel, which are real boiled bagels. I worked there 12 years ago, but that’s another story…

    Actually, I miss my biallies… with onions on top…

  • My family moved from The Bronx to Queens in 1954 but the grandparents were left behind. Not always but almost always, if we had visited them, when on the way back, even after midnight, we would stop by a beigel shop under the El (I was too young then to recall any further details; and for non-NYers, the El is short for “the elevated line”, where the subways traveled above the avenues) and buy them as the came out of the oven for Sunday morning lox, cheese and beigels. Jews are imprinted with the need for rites and customs.

  • summer of โ€˜85, leaving notes for friends in other Pilgrimage groups at Richieโ€™s Pizza, and Iโ€™d completely forgotten about Lalos and Champs.

    Hi Robin,

    I was there that summer. Those are good memories. We used to hit Lalos all the time. I watched Live Aid at Champs.

    That summer changed my life. I smile just thinking about it.

  • Jack, I think Robin is on a plane to the U.S. Or she has landed here and is busy recovering. Check her blog.

    Yisrael, thanks for commenting on NY bagels. As you know, your wife is one of my favorite bloggers.

    Batya, thanks for differentiating the two Jerusalem bagel shops.

    Rosie, good luck with your 100 days, and if you need to talk non-raw, non-vegan, I’m here.

    Nadneyda, yes, good cheese in Israel, too. Not plastic.

    Rivster, thanks for sharing the memory. Sounded fun.

    And everyone else, thanks, too.

  • When I visit my mom on Long Island I try to pick up bagels in Oceanside. I just got a batch – onion, garlic and everything bagels. I cut them in half the day I get them and freeze them – they defrost almost as good as fresh. Let me know if you’d like to try some.

  • Hi, Larry. Sounds like you have a good bagel source. Maybe in September, when one of my star bagel boys returns from camp. Thanks.

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