Monday, July 13, 2009

Choosing a Jewish community

I've been discussing this with my pre-converts/converts for selecting their Jewish communities. I would like feedback on various communities that my readers live in. I'm including my list of things to consider for the readers, as well.

There are different factors that make different areas ideal for each person.
What kind of Jew you become plays into this.

Things to consider:
Am I comfortable financially, or do I need something more affordable?

Will I have a vehicle? Or do I need to be on the subway?

Will I want to be around modern people, medium strict people or really strict

How to I feel about being around sephardim?

How much commute might I want to make?

What kind of work do I do? Some jobs are concentrated in Manhattan but, others
are concentrated in the outer boros (like teachers and therapists)?

Do I want a lawn and a backyard? Or to be in a high rise? How about a co-op? Do
I want/need a doorman?

Do I want to be around young, old, a mixture or don't care?

If you consider yourself a Chabadnick, do you want to live in Crown Heights?

Do you want to live in a small community, big community or something in between?
There are communities made up of one shul, 6, 38, or over 200. The size of a
community is something to consider.

Do you want kosher grocery shopping right there or would you shop at a regular
store and supplement that with trips to another area for meat and maybe cheese?

If you are going to be married Jewishly in that neighborhood, do you need a
mikvah right there or would you want to travel to it?

If you aren't finished with your process, do you need a rabbi within the
community or would want to travel to meet with one?

What kind of women's role do you want? Some areas women never go to shul others
they are expected as much as the men.


  1. Well, here I am again.. I think suberban people would find it a bit..sacrilegous to consider raising their kids in such a small, poor, dirty place like Brooklyn. The same thing with non-Jewish Americans who come by here;there here during their twenties to work, but not to rise a family here. ..well, not usually.

    ..I mean, like you said, you can always commute from Woodmere or Passaic or something..

  2. From one of my pre-converts:

    Re: blog

    You might like to include is there a mikveh easily accessible?

    If you have children, what school's are available.

    Is there an Eruv?, do you want to live in a community with an Eruv?

    Where and how accessible are shops to buy Kosher food. Is there a Kosher
    Butcher/Bakery? Any eateries?

    Is this a community you feel comfortable in. Have they made you feel welcomed?
    Do you feel that the community is Gerim friendly? Do you feel comfortable within
    this community?

    What kind of housing do you want.. is it within your budget?

    I like the blog about 'what is a name'. Thanks for mentioning some of us :-)

  3. Merrick, NY is a great community on the South Shore of Long Island. There are many options for Jewish day schools including HANC, HAFTR, Rambam, HALB, NSHA, and Solomon Schechter. Alternatively, it is in one of the best public school districts in the country. There is a kosher butcher and a kosher bagel store in town and a bakery in nearby Wantagh. There is a mikvah in nearby Oceanside (12 minute drive) and many kosher restaurants in West Hempstead (15 minutes) and the Five Towns (25 minutes).

    It is an easy commute into NYC with a short 40-minute ride on the LIRR. The houses are beautiful and the streets are quiet and peaceful.

    As for the people, there is a modern orthodox community that is very accepting of all Jews.

  4. Check out allows users to find real estate listings within proximity to any shul in the US and all the resources needed to sustain a "kosher" lifestyle.

    We went through the exhaustive search two years ago and found Stamford CT. In our journeys, we have encountered many heimishe communities. Email me at and I might be able to guide you. Be well.

  5. I can speak about the community of Holliswood, NY:
    There is a mikveh easily accessible in the town right next door in Hilcrest- it's a beautiful mikvegh and almost everyone from all parts of Queens go there.
    The same schools that are avialable to everyone in Queens- the only school in specific Holliswood has to offer is Central-YUHSG, an only girls modern orthodox High School- it is an excellent choice.
    There is an Eruv.
    There are kosher supermarkets and pizza stores and bakeries as well. But the bulk of the kosher stores are in the other areas of Queens such as Kew Gardens Hills.
    The communiy is Geirim friendly- it is an eccentric and small community. they have old people young people and middle aged as well- a large mix for a very small neighborhood. If someone is a bit eccentric and wants to live with a mix- then it might be a good choie. But if someone wants to "go with the flow" and not stand out, this would not be the place.
    The commute to NYC is a bus ride or 2 away from the subway.

  6. I would recommend FOREST HILLS. There are many Shuls that are welcoming. Close to Main Street and a diversity of shul. I would not recommend GREAT NECK. Since I have been here for over 3 years I was only welcomed my two members. :(

  7. WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    No, you mean KEW GARDENS HILLS, which is the most wonderful community. Forest Hills, which is over the bridge from KGH is extremely unwelcoming and it's next to impossible to get a Shabbos meal in the neighborhood. Additionally, it's EXTREMELY modern and many residents do not even keep kosher or Shabbos. In Forest Hills, there are only 5 Ashkenaz shuls. In KGH, there are 38 shuls, about 2/3 Ashkenaz and 1/3 Sephardic.

  8. Also, Main Street is in Kew Gardens Hills. Main street which, again is in KEW GARDENS HILLS, has many many many restaurants and shopping.

  9. If Brooklyn is anything but small! It's the second largest borough in NYC. Brooklyn is the perfect option for young families just starting out. Then again I am a city girl.

  10. It's funny because Flatbush/Midwood is this large community that is larger than say, all the communities in Queens combined. However, I really think Kew Gardens Hills is a great area. It's small enough that people know each other and large enough to have kosher grocery stores and a couple clothing stores. Although, Brooklyn has more stores and some real selection in the clothing department. KGH only has two stores: the store with a decent sale rack and the expensive store. I would like to be able to find more at a decent price, not just wait to snag deals that come along at ONE place.