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OU holds dying communities fair

For the third year in a row, the OU is holding a dying communities fair to lure poor New Yorkers to the rust belt in search of a better life, cheaper tuition and really low property values. For many people, the decision is tough, leaving New York means leaving family and friends behind, but many of the communities featured are so close to dead, that any new blood will be welcomed like family.

It’s no surprise that this years roster of communities hails from some of the most economically depressed cities in the country, places like Rochester – NY, Milwaukee – WI, Southfield – MI, Harrisburg -PA and Binghamton – NY, but with the promise of fresh air, real live trees and the warmth seldom felt in larger towns without unemployment rates in the double digits – many of the folks attending the fair on March 27th may in fact move to a place like Bangor Maine.

Some of these communities are so desperate to get new members, that they are offering all sorts of free stuff. Jacksonville is offering a free shul membership and A year’s worth of free tuition at Torah Academy of Jacksonville for all your children ages 3 years old through 8th grade. (70% off first year; 30% off second year) – that actually sounds kind of good – if it weren’t for the fact that you’d have to live in Jacksonville. Overland Park Kansas (not even the cool part of Kansas) is offering what seems like a life support plea – free tuition, free JCC membership and a slew of other things to convince to move to Kansas City – although if you’re in the family meth business, I hear it’s a very good economy.

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Yankel March 7, 2011, 11:24 AM

    Something’s gotta give. The real estate is so abnormally through the roof in the big cities, people just can’t live anymore.

  • Geoff March 7, 2011, 11:44 AM

    SIGH. It’s not often a post on FS leaves me less cheerful for having read it (at least without a laugh or two on the way down). In one of these communities I can attest that, according to the old-timers, there used to be dozens of kosher butchers, etc. in the area, whereas there are now none (within less than a 30-40 minute drive, which is an hour in traffic). The only local Jewish Day School closed two years ago (again, you get in the car and drive to another community). There used to be so many more shuls of all different flavors, that have disappeared, merged, or are heading that way soon. There’s just nobody left, frum, frei–all fergangen.

    • Heshy Fried March 7, 2011, 12:21 PM

      But you’ll get a free membership to the JCC

    • Meir March 7, 2011, 1:29 PM

      Ooh! Ooh! Lemme guess!!!!

      Let’s see, I think I’m going with Elizabeth, NJ.

      • Anonymous March 7, 2011, 2:21 PM


      • Anonymous March 7, 2011, 2:23 PM

        No, but I don’t doubt this could be an accurate description elsewhere. And there is no JCC.

        • Geoff March 7, 2011, 2:24 PM

          Sorry, that was my post, yes.

        • Geoff March 7, 2011, 2:25 PM

          Sorry, that was my post, yes. Not Elizabeth.

  • dorot March 7, 2011, 12:40 PM

    Agreed KC would be good if you are in the meth business but Overland Park? They are actually an emerging (not dying) Orthodox community since there weren’t any frummies there to begin with. And OP is rich rich rich. Also saw Sacramento on the list – which is strange because there are (oddly) plenty of frummies there already. And both of these communities have eruvim already. What’s the problem?

    • Mahla March 7, 2011, 10:11 PM

      Didn’t they actually BUST a huge meth lab being run by frum Jews out of a kosher slaughterhouse awhile back? LOL!

      • dorot March 8, 2011, 6:55 PM

        kosher meth? and i thought the hechser on toilet bowl cleaner was weird.

  • On the Move March 7, 2011, 12:45 PM


    The OU is running this for the 3rd year in a row, because its actually been successful. There are people willing to move for lower tuition and lower mortgages. Each of these communities also provides a list of jobs available.

    As you yourself know after leaving NY there is life west of the Deleware. Instead of making fun, help promote Orthodox life throughout North America.

    • Heshy Fried March 7, 2011, 1:04 PM

      There’s life in Delaware? They do have some pretty sick mountain biking in Newark and good opportunities with credit card companies.

      I know all about it – but most of the communities they have are in fact dying communities.

      • Anon March 7, 2011, 1:13 PM

        I think On the Move means the Delaware River.

      • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) March 7, 2011, 1:28 PM

        Reminds me of that Wayne’s World scene, where they’re virtually visiting cool places, then they hit Deleware.

        • Frozen Chosen March 7, 2011, 2:30 PM

          Amuka-laka-hiki, come-on-I-wanna-laya!

  • Anonymous March 7, 2011, 2:16 PM

    Not all of the communities listed are “dying” Cherry Hill certainly isn’t!

  • Reb Yudel March 7, 2011, 2:18 PM

    For the record, TIUNY is much more tolerable if you’re an in-towner.

  • Geoff March 7, 2011, 3:17 PM

    Most of the cities aren’t dying, but either stable or growing communities with cheaper housing than NY area. Dallas and Las Vegas for example are growing Jewish communities.

    • Geoff who's not from Elizabeth March 7, 2011, 3:21 PM

      While I generally agree with this comment, apparently the poster and I could stand to come up with less common usernames. I’ll have to work on that.

  • Samuel March 7, 2011, 3:18 PM

    Heshy – perhaps you can provide a list of the communities that are NOT on their list that you think should be?

  • Shrink March 7, 2011, 4:08 PM

    I have lived in Monsey, NYC, and some smaller out of town communities (due to schooling), and it seems to me that there are kinda two extremes-either a lotta Jews, where the costs are high, or small out of town where there aren’t a lot of Jewish amenities. Maybe a couple that I could think of, but there needs to be more legitimate alternatives to the big cities. Dallas ain’t too bad, but that’s pretty far out. It would be ideal if some of the cities in PA, for example, could expand. I hate to say it, but the smaller towns arent worth expanding, cuz how much expansion can you really expect. Go for the medium ones not too far from friends ad family in the tri state.

  • Anonymous March 7, 2011, 4:45 PM

    I remember a couple of years back that Malden MA was giving away a nice sum of money to people who’d move there.

  • OfftheDwannaB March 7, 2011, 4:59 PM

    ‘dying communities fair’

    LOL Telling it like it is.

  • Rob March 7, 2011, 6:27 PM

    Only goyim should live in fly-over country. Jews should be on the coast. Either coast.

  • Mahla March 7, 2011, 7:19 PM

    They should seriously send some Jewish people here to Eugene Oregon! Frum ones, I mean.

  • Batya March 7, 2011, 8:41 PM

    Halachikly, the fair stinks. Make aliyah and keep more mitzvot in Our Land!

  • Batya March 7, 2011, 8:53 PM

    Your blog rejected attempt #1, I’ll try again.
    I consider the campaign a chillul Hashem. Make aliyah. The dying of a community is a sign that it’s time to go…

    • JohnL March 8, 2011, 9:27 PM

      What city in Israel do you live in?

  • Batya March 7, 2011, 8:55 PM

    finally, it’s in, plus the second

  • ML March 7, 2011, 9:31 PM

    I live in Jacksonville, and certainly wouldn’t describe it as a “dying” community. “Dying” implies it was once much bigger and better when it was. My impression, from talking to the old timers is that the status quo is as good as it has ever been (which admittedly, may not be saying much!)

    • Anonymous March 7, 2011, 11:06 PM

      To Rob:

      Jews should live in Israel.

  • AriInMd March 8, 2011, 10:21 AM

    I grew up in an “out of town” community, and have had the honor of spending Shabbat with the (very much alive) community in Bangor, Maine. I think its common courtesy to visit a place before declaring it to be dying. Also, its not true that New York Jews who move to smaller communities do so solely (or even primarily) for economic reasons. In many of the 47 states outside of the tri-state area, the air is cleaner, the drivers are more courteous, relations between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews are better, and people actually know their neighbors.

    Maybe the reason Heshy is so hostile to these communities is that they have the power to put him out of business. So much of the BS he satirizes (pretensious displays of wealth and/or religiosity, excessive communical factionalization) doesn’t occur in small communities with just one Orthodox shul.

  • frum single female March 8, 2011, 5:59 PM

    i visited a friend of mine who lives in overland park kansas a few years ago. yes, there may only be one orthodox shul there, but the people who attend this shul are some of the finest people i have ever met. they are such warm, friendly, hospitable people. i was there in the summer and the scenery was beautiful.

  • frum single female March 8, 2011, 6:25 PM

    dyed in the wool new yorkers should not move anywhere outside of their tri-state area. im originally from the midwest and i know. many dyed in the wool new yorkers who moved to my former hometown quickly moved back the east. everywhere in the united states is different than new york. if you are only used to ny you might not like it elsewhere. if you are a new yorker who is dissatisfied with a lot of the bs that goes on in new york, then and only then are you a candidate to try living out of town like binghamton , new york or way , way out of town like overland park, kansas.

    • sk March 8, 2011, 8:46 PM

      I’m curious, once “frum single female” becomes a bride, will her blog change its name?

      As for us New Yorkers, it can all be summarized by Larry King’s autobiography title “When You’re From Brooklyn, Everything Else is Tokyo.”

      I love it when out-of-town girls come to New York to attend Stern or Touro, go on dates with New Yorkers, and then tell us that their dream is to move back to Tulsa, Oklahoma after marriage, so they can be close to their families.

      As a New Yorker, I prefer to stay and struggle here. My second choice is Israel, not Missouri. In my community, the chasan chooses the home, not the Midwestern bride.

  • Ted Brown March 9, 2011, 1:37 AM

    I agree Judaism as a whole is dying in small cities. i know i come from one Poughkeepsie, New York our beloved rabbi died serving our congregation. The spirit of my shul was harmed. I felt so bad i almost moved back from los angeles to console the congregation and then i realized Hashem has bigger plans for me. The Shul moved on and has since its inception from around the late 1890’s. Poughkeepsie has a reform a conservative and of course my shul congregation Shomre Israel the only orthodox one except for 2 chabad and the average member is 55. We we have more fundraisers to keep the place going than any other shul. I know my parents practically live there after 60 hour works weeks. It really shows the backbone of the small communities. I have been to Rochester back in the day for NCSY and Binghamton as well. Its amazing Hickey Freeman a major player in upscale suiting and clothes and the place is broke wtf? Binghamton off of 17k what about Elenville what about the Catskills? Heshy remember the New Englad Academy of Torah in Rhode Island we both went there simultaneously small small community but they had heart. so much they closed the boys school to save the girls school in 1994. Where was the OU then. the moral is the ou the federation and alot of other organizations have the money to save the cities and communities but they don’t because they are paying for there kids to live in major cities. Maybe these organizations should take a page out of Chabad Lubavitch and send there members to the small places and reopen up shop and put there people where the jews are.

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