New York, NY — On Sunday April 30, close to 2,000 people attended the OU’s bi-annual Communities Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. The fair featured 50 Orthodox Jewish communities from around the country, as well as Nefesh B’Nefesh representing Aliyah opportunities.
The fair is a fascinating demographic study of the Orthodox community today — particularly, of the trend of young families moving out to more affordable Torah communities.
“This year, we received a higher-than-ever response to our Communities Fair, and this demand is testament to the needs of a rapidly-growing Orthodox community,” said Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union. “The Orthodox Union is proud to be creatively, and proactively, responding to those needs.”
“We’re trying to find a good community for us to raise our family,” said Tzippy Ulman of Brooklyn, NY. “We have three little kids, and we’re looking for a slower pace in life, for more space, and for a smaller community with more diversity, a more family-oriented place. We’ve definitely found a few that were great, a few in Pennsylvania, we looked at Norfolk, VA, and we just looked into Cherryhill, NJ.”
Amy and Jonathan Weiss, of Riverdale NY, came to the fair looking for a new community. “This is one of the only events we’ve heard of, where they bring all the communities across the country together, and all the resources together to find out information, rather than sitting at home and googling everything, it’s all in one spot here,” Amy said.
Sara Malka and Dovid Flam of Monsey NY laughed when asked why they’re looking to move out of the New York area. “Where to begin?” said Dovid. “We want affordable living, a community where we can make a difference, and a community where everyone is a member.” The couple is looking into northeast Philadelphia, Norfolk VA, Highland Park NJ, and Boca, FL. “We are looking for a more sincere and quieter lifestyle than in the big communities in the Northeast,” Sara Malka added.
“The significant interest in communities throughout the country is particularly heartening by the nature of the questions posed,” said Moishe Bane, President of the Orthodox Union. “In addition to asking questions regarding housing and job opportunities, attendees focused on the quality of Jewish education, the vibrancy of local synagogues, the eruv, and the availability of kosher consumer products and restaurants. We are proud that the Orthodox Union continues to provide community services that are most appropriately organized on a national basis. Events such as the Community Fair reflect our commitment to provide observant American Jewry opportunities to improve the quality of their religious lives.”
Refael Caplan of Manhattan’s Upper East Side attended for his first time. “We’re interested in retiring outside of the New York area, particularly the southern communities because of the weather,” he said. Retirees have been particularly interested in prospects outside of New York, OU officials noted.
“We are very thrilled with the overwhelming success of our OU Communities Fair,” said Judi Steinig of the Orthodox Union. “It was a wonderful opportunity to bring together so many communities with amenities to attract Orthodox Jewish families, singles, and retirees who are anxious to relocate to other places with more affordable housing, relaxing settings and job opportunities. Everyone who participated could feel the energy of this exciting event.”
For hi-res photos from the fair, check out our full album here: https://orthodoxunion.app.box.com/s/4xyljtdboj3gjxkrulo4tg2pr1qwncdg. Photo credit: Meir Kruter.
For more information on the fair, check out https://www.ou.org/communities/