Nashville’s streets hum with music, but the city that’s all about the country is also home to a harmonious Jewish community with multiple resources in place.
The area within the eruv, home to most of the observant Jewish community, is affectionately known as “Shabbosland.” The OU-affiliated Congregation Sherith Israel, which counts about 200 member families, is led by Rabbi Saul Strosberg and offers an in-house mikvah and dynamic range of programming for adults and youths (NCSY also has junior and senior chapters in Nashville). Akiva Day School and Middle School offers a stellar Jewish education, and there are some Jewish preschools in the area. Most typical staples of a kosher pantry, including meat, can be found in various grocery stores like Kroger’s and Trader Joe’s. Two restaurants, Grins and Woodlands, offer kosher vegetarian and Indian food.
Cara Suvall moved to Nashville in 2015 with her husband from Boston. Previously, she knew little about the city but thought it looked like fun and, after spending a long trial weekend there to get to know its Jewish community, she felt instantly at home.
“I have lived in several places, and nowhere has it been as easy as it has been here to feel connected to a community so quickly,” said Cara. “I think it’s a mix of gracious ‘southern charm’ and the fact that so many people are relatively new to Nashville and really open to making new friends.”
Cara points to Sherith Israel’s recent decision to turn over some of the shuls’ most important roles, including her new role as membership chair, to younger members—the Board president, membership chair, and Cara are in their mid-30s. “It shows a real commitment to innovative programming and making sure our community is particularly responsive to the interests and needs of young families,” she noted.
Micah Coleman’s family’s move to Nashville in 2011 coincided with the July 4th weekend (the family enjoyed an authentic Southern kosher barbecue during the city’s July 4th parade). “The warmth of the community was so genuine, and we immediately felt like we had family in town,” Micah recalled.
Finally, Nashville itself is, indeed, a very fun town where music abounds, as do other cultural options like performance art centers, art galleries and plenty of sports. Nashville’s abundant housing options include affordable real estate for rent or sale.
“With warm weather and warm people, culture and job opportunities,” declared Micah, “Nashville is a great option for those considering a close-knit Jewish community that also offers country, creativity, and culture.”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.