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Choosing a Place to Live

You recently,

graduated college got a new job, got married
got a raise got transferred had a baby retired
and have to or want to move. You are faced with a myriad of choices, not least of which is deciding what community or neighborhood you and your family will be most happy living in. Finding an appropriate Jewish community is one piece of that decision.

Your real estate agent can be an important source of information. What do they know about the size of the local Jewish community, and the services it offers?

But with the help of the Internet or the local phone book, you can quickly conduct in-depth research about the vibrancy of a local Jewish community. Prime sources of information:

Finding the Federation

Local federations [link to description] ____.

A federation is Jewish organization that is similar to united way in that it connectrs money, umbrella fundrasing, and dsitribuing for loca lneeds and special projects.

There are nearly 200 of them in North America. You can find the nearest by looking on-line at http://www.cjfny.org/feds.htm. Call and ask to speak to someone who can tell you about the community. Some Federations have an Information and Referral Service which can answer these and any other questions that you may have. Find out if they have a web site. Request a copy of the Federation paper and literature about the community.

What to ask

Ask about the demographics of the community.

If you are single–are there large numbers of singles in your age category-if so, what kinds of programs, activities targeted to singles are available?

If you are a young married couple-is the neighborhood you are considering moving to filled with other young marrieds or is it older ….Is there a way to meet others who have recently been married? (Many Federations have Young Leadership departments which cater to the needs of the under 40 crowd.)

Do you have kids? Do they need day care, preschool ? Are you committed to giving your kids a Day School education? Is there a Day School that meets your denominational preference?

The synagogue

Each of the major synagogue movements has a Web site listing all its synagogues that you can use to locate synagogues in the area you are interested in. They are:

Reform http://uahc.org/conglist.html

Conservative http://www.uscj.org/synagogues.html

Orthodox: http://www.ou.org/network/shulslist.htm

Reconstructionist http://www.shamash.org/jrf/rccongs.html

Call the synagogue and ask to speak to the rabbi. The reception you get from the person who answers the phone - or how quick a call left on answering machine is returned – is a great test of whether you want to check out a particular congregation. The rabbi can usually tell you something about the community you are considering and its Jewish resources.

Synagogue questions

Is the synagogue Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist or Reform? Ask about the demographics of the congregation, as well as its educational and social programming. If you are Sabbath observant, are there other Sabbath observant families in the community? If s, how many? If you will be sending your child to Hebrew Day School, are there other families sending their children to Day School in the community? When are worship services? Are they held daily or just on Shabbat and holidays? Are worship services well attended? Who comes? Is there a Hebrew School, Junior Congregation, Youth Group? Is there a preschool or senior program? Is there a sisterhood or mens club? What is the dues structure? Ask to get their newsletter. A good way to judge the viability and energy in a synagogue is to check out what's going on.


Call the JCC and ask for the Membership Director. Find out whether they have programs that fill your needs. Check out the location of their building. Is the JCC close to where you are considering moving or will you have to drive a distance? Do they have special membership rates. Some JCC's offer reduced rates for singles–-others offer one fee which can be used for JCC and synagogue membership. Ask them to put you on their mailing list and send you a catalogue.

Looking Around

Drive or walk around the community. Are there other synagogues? If kosher food is an issue– is there a kosher butcher? Are there delis, bagel shops or supermarkets selling kosher food? Are there kosher restaurants? Are there stores selling Judaica and Jewish books?

Public schools

If you have children who will be going to public school, call the local Board of Education, and try to find how many Jewish children are enrolled in the school your child will be attending. Ask what their diversity policy is. Are the schools closed for the Jewish holidays? If in session, will teachers refrain from starting new topics or giving exams on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur? Do they make special dispensation for children who have to be out of school for religious reasons, or will your child be penalized for missed time?

How is Christmas handled? Are three months spent preparing for the holiday concert? Are there any nods to other religions in the school's program? Is there a Holocaust curriculum?



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