The Skirball Celebrates the Jewish Deli

"I'll Have What She's Having: The Jewish Deli," the newest exhibit at the cultural center, is now open.

Skirball Cultural Center

You've reached the counter, the one boasting a line-up of amazing pastries and breads, and you've exchanged some genuine pleasantries, life updates, and wishes of goodwill with the employees.

Now the moment has arrived: How do you possibly choose the sandwich, or the salad, or the omelet, or the dessert you want when there are so many appealing choices, food items that each have their own fascinating histories?

This delicious deciding is a time-honored tradition at your local delicatessen, a treasured spot that has surely become an important cornerstone of cuisine and community in your neighborhood, town, or city.

But there's another decision still to make as we reach the middle of April 2022: When will you make plans to spend time at the Skirball Cultural Center, where the new exhibition "I'll Have What She's Having: The Jewish Deli" just opened for a multi-month run?

Manny's Delicatessen, Chicago (photo: Skirball Cultural Center)

This feels like an easier route than determining whether you'll have the pastrami on rye, matzo ball soup, or a black & white cookie with a coffee, to go, please and thank you.

Because really? We want them all, and our deciding-at-the-counter moment, when we have to choose, always reminds us of this fact.

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The brand-new exhibition is a feast for the mind and senses, and tempting the tummy?

That, too, is a distinct and delightful possibility, so you and your companions might make plans to visit one of Southern California's beloved bastions of corned beef and knishes after your Skirball visit wraps.

"I'll Have What She's Having: The Jewish Deli" "... explores how American Jews imported traditions, adapted culture, and built community through the experience of food. In addition to showing how Jewish deli forged an entirely new, quintessentially American cuisine by combining Central and Eastern European dishes with ingredients abundantly available in the United States, the exhibition traces the larger arc of the Jewish experience in the US during the twentieth century," says the Skirball team.

Carnegie Delicatessen, NYC (photo: Skirball Cultural Center)

Illuminating this arc?

Menus are on display, you bet, and photographs, of course, and tales from both sides of the iconic counter, and clips, too, from television and film.

Sandwiches, soup, stories, friends, family, and celebration: This ebullient event will remain on view through Sept. 4, 2022.

"This exhibition exemplifies the Skirball Cultural Center's 25-year tradition of sharing distinctly Jewish histories that represent quintessentially American experiences. The deli was a place of gathering and familiarity for immigrant Jews, maintaining connection to the tastes and customs of the kitchens they left behind and paving the way forward into new communities and identity," said Skirball President and CEO Jessie Kornberg.

"More broadly, the deli has since become a touchstone of American culture, born in New York, but integral to countless communities nationwide, including Los Angeles, home of some of the country’s and cuisine’s most enduring and iconic institutions."

"It's a joy to be able to reflect on this chapter of Jewish American immigrant history."

To read about vaccine requirements, book your ticket in advance, and learn more about this savory celebration of the delicatessen, visit the Skirball Cultural Center site now.

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