In December 2008, the Committee to Advance Modern Orthodoxy in Stamford (CAMOS) – a communitywide effort to strategically target more young and religiously observant couples to move to Stamford, CT — was launched, with the goal of attracting more families to move to Stamford.
Eight years later, the community is thriving, with more than two dozen young families moving to Stamford in the past 12 months alone.
“It was simple, really,” said Michael Feldstein, who has chaired the committee since its inception. “Stamford had been suffering from a bit of an identity crisis in the Orthodox world. In the past, when young observant couples living in New York City considered moving to the suburbs, they would probably think of Teaneck, New Rochelle, the Five Towns. They usually didn’t think of Stamford, even though we are a relatively short commute into Manhattan and possess the basic features—an eruv, mikveh, day school, shuls, kosher food—that are required for a family to live an observant life. Now we are finally on the map, and on people’s radar when they are considering a move to a new community.”
CAMOS targeted several neighborhoods for its effort—the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Riverdale, Pelham Parkway (Einstein Medical School community), Teaneck, Forest Hills, and the Upper East Side. Parlor meetings were held at the homes of one of the residents in each area, where interested couples were invited to hear more about Stamford from committee members and were given a folder filled with information about the synagogues, schools, local attractions, and real estate options.
“There are rentals available in Stamford that are less expensive than similar apartments in the city,” said Feldstein. “Plus, there are plenty of condominiums and houses for sale. Also, property taxes are significantly cheaper than Westchester, New Jersey, and Long Island, which often makes the total payment cheaper in Stamford than for a similarly priced property in other areas.”
CAMOS has also sponsored three Shabbatons in the last three years, in which families were able to spend an entire Shabbat in Stamford—meeting residents as well as other prospective couples thinking of moving here…seeing the shuls, and checking out the schools and housing options on Sunday. “This has been a particularly strong method for us to attract new families,” said Feldstein. “About a third of the families who came to one of our Shabbatons have already moved here.”
Over the past eight years, CAMOS has also exhibited several times at the Orthodox Union’s Job and Relocation Fair. “The OU Fair has by far been our biggest source of leads for new families who are considering a move to Stamford,” said Feldstein.
Also, CAMOS members have conducted market research with two separate groups—those considering a move to a NY metro suburb as well as those who work in Stamford but who do not live here—to find out more about what they are looking for in a community. “The availability of kosher food and kosher restaurants, and the quality of the local day school are two items that consistently seem to rise to the top,” said Feldstein.
There are no less than four kosher eateries now open in Stamford: a kosher steakhouse, a kosher vegetarian Indian restaurant, a sushi restaurant, and a pizza and dairy restaurant.
As to a Jewish day school, the community boasts an excellent elementary school (K-8), the Bi-Cultural Day School. “Many young couples have no idea that our local day school was founded as part of the Torah u’Mesorah movement and boasts a 60-year track record of excellence in general and Judaic studies. They are pleasantly surprised to hear that its graduates attend SAR, Ramaz, Westchester Hebrew High School, and other Orthodox high schools,” said Feldstein.
Stamford boasts two Orthodox synagogues, Congregation Agudath Sholom and the Young Israel of Stamford, plus the local Chabad conducts Shabbos services as well. Chabad also runs a very successful pre-school program and day camp, which many of the observant families utilize. Stamford is also home to the Torah Learning Center organization, and they recently achieved great success after reaching out to the larger community (both adults and children) to provide learning opportunities for those who are interested.
If you are considering a move to a suburban New York metropolitan area and would like more information about Stamford, please contact Michael Feldstein at 203-973-6279 or email him at MichaelGFeldstein@gmail.com.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.