D.C. Jewish History Blog Subscribe via RSS

Object of the Month: April 2013 0 Comment(s)

Object No.: 1998.24.4
Donor: Ann Hofberg Richards
Description: Hofberg's menu, yellow and maroon printed cardboard, c.1950s

Background: Does this menu bring you back to a time when a corned-beef sandwich cost 35 cents? Many Washingtonians' have early memories of Hofberg's, located on the District line. Shepherd Elementary and Beth Sholom Sunday School students visited after class was over. When these young patrons became teenagers, they returned to Hofberg's, a great date place where all enjoyed the famous sandwiches, hot dogs, and pickles.

Some 40 years before opening his deli on Eastern Avenue, Abe Hofberg was born in Argentina, where his Eastern European parents had lived since they were children. Dora and Solomon Hofberg brought their family to Washington in the early 1920s. Abe and his siblings attended Roosevelt High School while their parents, like so many Jewish immigrants, ran a grocery store at 20th & E Streets, NW.

When Abe launched his first deli at 116 Kennedy Street, NW (seen left) in 1928, the family lived four blocks away at 710 Longfellow Street, NW. His parents opened the doors every day at 6 a.m., and took over the counter while Abe served his country during World War II.

Shortly after Abe's return home, he sold the business on Kennedy Street, but quickly picked up where he had left off. In 1948, he opened a new Hofberg's where Eastern, Alaska, and Georgia Avenues meet on the border between Washington and Silver Spring. The sandwich shop became an popular hang-out for area teens to grab a heaping sandwich and a dish of ice cream.

Over the years, Hofberg's added catering service, room service for a neighborhood motel, and The Penthouse, a dining room upstairs from the deli. A 1957 advertisement for the Penthouse's grand opening boasted the establishment would be "America's most lavish and hospitable kosher restaurant outside of New York."

When the ownership changed in 1969, Hofberg's spread into Montgomery County, but the suburban locations were never as popular as their D.C. predecessors. Ten years after Abe Hofberg retired, the Eastern Avenue deli was praised in The Washington Post: "In the case of Hofberg's…everybody comes out a winner." Regretfully, after decades of serving as a meet-and-eat spot, the shop closed in the early 1980s, followed by the Maryland locations in the next few decades. While Hofberg's is now part of Washington's history, many native Washingtonians fondly remember its renowned deli fare.

Do you have material documenting a local deli or restaurant that you'd like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society's collection? Please contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789-0900.


This year, in conjunction with the Jewish Food Experience, our Objects of the Month feature DC's rich Jewish food history. For stories about this history and the latest on the local Jewish food scene – recipes, restaurants, chefs, events, and volunteer opportunities – visit jewishfoodexperience.com.

In Memory of Jack Kay 0 Comment(s)

Please join us in extending condolences to the family of Jack Kay, Jewish Historical Society Honorary Director, who passed away this weekend. Mr. Kay’s funeral will be held at Adas Israel Congregation, 2850 Quebec Street, NW, at 1 pm tomorrow, Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

Barbara and Jack Kay at our Guardian event at the Halcyon House, 2008

Mr. Kay was a key supporter of our work for many years. He began his Board service in 1999, became an Honorary Director in 2005 and served in this capacity until his death. He and his first wife, Ina, were among our first Guardian members. As a member of our Presidents Circle, he and his wife Barbara were major donors supporting the many aspects of our programs and operations. He generously supported our exhibitions during the past 20 years, including our Israel exhibition, Ties That Bind, in 1998 and Jewish Washington in 2005.

Mr. Kay understood the importance of our work preserving Jewish history in the nation's capital and established the Kay Family Archives through his many donations to the Society's collections. The Kay Family Archives include numerous photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, personal papers, and other materials documenting the remarkable legacy that both he and his parents, Minnie and Abraham Kay, left in our community.

Our heartfelt condolences to Jack’s wife Barbara, his daughter Lauren, and his grandchildren.

May his memory be a blessing.

In Memory of Richard England 0 Comment(s)

It is with great sadness to notify you that Richard “Dick” England, husband of Honorary Director Lois England, passed away on Monday, April 1, 2013.

A memorial service was held on Thursday, April 4th at Washington Hebrew Congregation. Family suggests memorial gifts be made to Chess Challenge, The Multicultural Career Intern Program (at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus), or Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

The Englands announced a major contribution to the Society at the 50th anniversary annual meeting, 2010.

Lois has served on our Board for more than 20 years with a particular interest in archives.  Both she and Dick were among our earliest and staunchest supporters and boosters. They were among the original donors creating an endowment in their names in the late 1980s to perpetuate museum activities. They were among the original Guardian members, increasing their support annually. With each special project and exhibition, Lois and Dick were there with their support.  They hosted a wonderful event for major donors in their home about 10 years ago. When our exhibition Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community opened in the National Building Museum, the Englands thought that we should have a 30’ banner hang in the Great Hall and their support made that possible.

When we started our Capital Campaign to purchase our administrative office building, Lois and Dick were among the first supporters, later increasing their support so that they would be in a position to ask others for support—which they did. Again they were the first donors to the new museum generous giving us a $250,000 gift that they hoped would be used for the new museum, but were kind enough to designate as unrestricted.

We have benefited rom their wisdom and support.

Though Lois served on the Board, Dick was present at Guardian events, exhibit openings and annual meetings, lending his voice and support to our work. We will greatly miss him.