The signature pie at Chickie Pig's, the latest Lower East Side brick oven pizzeria, is a thin crust pizza topped with mozzarella, tomato, prosciutto di parma, ham and sausage. How ironic that this Mecca of trayfe is housed in what looks like a former synagogue! Some Jews in a Westchester cemetery are rolling around in their graves. But the story gets weirder. The building, if the Hebrew lines engraved above the doorway are to be believed, wasn't really a synagogue. It was more like a morgue.
We asked a slightly more observant Jew to translate the lines. She in turn asked an even more Jewier Jew who, finally, asked the Jewiest type of Jew, a rabbi, for clarification. Word from on high is that the place was a Chevra Kadisha. The Chevra Kadisha is the religious group that cleans and washes the dead before burial. They also were responsible, largely, for waiting with the corpse before burial to guard against theft. This is one of the biggest mitzvot one can perform. (That and pretending not to be disgusted by the crumbly lips of your grandmother.)
All this means that one point in time, not too long ago, Chickie Pig's was filled with deceased Jewry. Now it's just filled with prosciutto and drunken overflow from neighborhood bars.