In August 1974, there were no kosher restaurants or synagogues in Ocean City. The closest synagogue, Beth Israel Congregation, was 23 miles away in Salisbury – “too far for even the sturdiest observant Jew to trudge.”
As a result, Jews were choosing to travel to Atlantic City, New Jersey, despite it being further from home than Ocean City.
Beth Israel leader Rabbi Herman Schwartz felt more Jews would travel to Ocean City if businesses made an effort to “cater to the needs of observant Jews.”
Only one of several construction companies agreed to Schwartz’s appeal to “make a place available in Ocean City for services.”
Two sides were presented in the article: Schwartz, who strongly felt more observant Jews would start coming to the beachside town if efforts were made to accommodate them; and Mrs. X, the wife of one of the OC constructors who turned down Schwartz’s appeal. She argued that “there are plenty of Jews coming to Ocean City now,” stating that the Jews coming to OC “aren’t interested in religion.”
“No one can convince me these people care about kosher meals or Shabbat services,” she said.
Forty-five years later, there are still no kosher restaurants in OC. But four synagogues have begun, including two Chabad homes. Jews flock to OC, fully prepared to cook out of their rented houses and pick up kosher ingredients from the local supermarkets.
How things have changed since then!