Corned Beef lovers circle one day a year on their calendar to enjoy an authentic, deli-style corned beef sandwich like you would find in major cities across America.

Congregation Achduth Vesholom will hold its 21st “Corned Beef on Rye – Sure to Satisfy” sale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, 2023.

Monday, October 16th is the last day to get in your online pre-order. Organizers highly recommend you take advantage of it to make sure you don’t miss out.

“Some people that have moved here from Miami, New York, or Chicago are shocked that this type of sandwich is available here,” says Samara Sheray, Executive Director at the Temple. “It’s really not found anywhere else.”

Corned beef on rye piled high! Photo courtesy: Congregation Achduth Vesholom

The congregation’s biggest fundraiser each year got its start in 2002 but was put on pause in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“We didn’t have any idea what it was going to be like,” says Beth Zweig, who has been a part of all of them. “Our first year, we thought if we do four or five hundred, that would be great. All these years later, we sold almost 2,000 meals last year.”

Beth Zweig(right) and Executive Director Semara Sheray(2nd from right) on prep night in 2022. Photo courtesy: Congregation Achduth Vesholom

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” says Rabbi Meir Bargeron with an infectious smile. “We basically are a pop-up delicatessen.”

“On the night before the sale, we’ll have about a hundred people assembling sandwiches, weighing beef, getting packaging ready, and everything in between.”

Rabbi Meir Bargeron with a tray of creamy coleslaw. Photo courtesy: Congregation Achduth Vesholom

Amy Krouse, the Volunteer Coordinator, is responsible for getting everyone on the same page. “It’s organized chaos,” she says with a laugh. “But, it works like a well-oiled machine.”

“I grew up in Chicago,” says Zweig, the Program Director at the Temple. “We would go to the deli all the time. The smell of the pickles and the corned beef takes us back to childhood.”

Krouse nods in agreement. “I’m from New York and I’ve had some pretty good deli sandwiches. You can’t get anything like this in Fort Wayne, except on October 19th.”

Almost 2,000 meals were served in 2022. Photo courtesy: Congregation Achduth Vesholom

Rabbi Bargeron doesn’t hide his excitement as he describes the tasty meal. “It’s a third of pound of corned beef, piled really, really high. Delicious, amazing corned beef, cut by loving hands and put together by people from our community.”

“And you get an enormous pickle, a huge fudgy brownie, coleslaw and a drink.”

Over the years, Zweig says every aspect of the meal has been a point of passionate discussion. “We had the debate, seeded rye, or not seeded rye? How much corned beef?”

“Should the giant pickle be quartered, or should it remain whole? There was a lot of debate about that, but we decided to keep it whole because it’s a very impressive-looking pickle.”

“And the brownie is legendary,” says Sheray. “We’ve gone through so many trials of brownies through the years. We even had brownie-gate.”

Enormous pickles arrive by the barrel. Photo courtesy: Congregation Achduth Vesholom

Zweig can hardly wait for Thursday to arrive. “When the customers come, it’s exciting to have them because they’re really looking forward to the meal.”

Cars will snake their way through the parking lot to pick up their drive-thru meal in a very efficient manner. “The Temple(5200 Old Mill Road) is in a residential neighborhood,” says Rabbi Bargeron. “It’s very much a community effort, which is really important to us.”

The fudgy brownies are legendary. Photo courtesy: Congregation Achduth Vesholom

“There are a lot of ways we could raise money, but this connects us with the people.”

“It brings Fort Wayne’s general population together with Fort Wayne’s Jewish population, just to have a great lunch,” says Sheray. “You know, people come out for food. It’s a Positively wonderful day.”

Boxed meals are $21. Each meal includes a heaping 1/3-pound corned beef sandwich on rye, a giant pickle, creamy coleslaw, a fudgy brownie, and a drink.

Additional pounds of bulk corned beef are for sale for $20 per pound.

Meals will be distributed by a drive-thru pick-up in the Temple parking lot located at 5200 Old Mill Road.

Congregation Achduth Vesholom is the oldest Jewish congregation in Indiana. They will celebrate their 175th anniversary with a giant celebration that kicks off on November 10.