Community

OU Jewish Communities Fair Snapshot: Atlanta, GA

March 28, 2017

One of the South’s most bustling Jewish communities, Atlanta, GA, has a rich history of Jewish residents dating back to the city’s founding. Today, Atlanta’s largest Jewish neighborhood is called Toco Hills and, at its center, is Congregation Beth Jacob, a vast and sprawling synagogue, and center of Jewish life and learning that includes an active kollel, a preschool, the Atlanta Kashrus Commission, and mikvaot for men and women.

Rabbi Yitzchok Tendler, Beth Jacob’s executive director, moved to the area a few years ago to be closer to his wife’s family. “Atlanta is a very warm, cohesive and unified community,” said Rabbi Tendler. “It’s very growth-oriented, too—people are constantly looking to expand their Jewish learning.”

Toco Hills also has a Young Israel, a Persian shul, and a Sephardic shul. Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, two nearby Jewish communities about a 15-minute drive from Toco Hills, are growing rapidly. Dunwoody is anchored by Congregation Ariel, while Sandy Springs has Beth Tefillah, a large Chabad center, and The Kehillah.

Families send their children to either the Atlanta Jewish Academy, a co-ed Modern Orthodox school serving infants through 12th grade, or the more right-wing Torah Day School of Atlanta. There’s also a Chabad Montessori elementary and middle school, the Chaya Mushka Children’s House, in Sandy Springs. Temima High School for Girls and Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael for Boys offer single-gender high schools.

Sara Davis grew up in Atlanta and returned there three years ago after living in Teaneck. “The tri-state area was too fast-paced for me, and my husband’s commute into Manhattan was complicated by New Jersey’s public transit options,” Sara explained. “Aside from enjoying being closer to my family, it’s amazing to see how much the Jewish community here has changed. There are so many more young couples and families now, which means more options for shuls and schools.”

Sara admits that one doesn’t move to Atlanta for the kosher restaurants. “We have limited options, but there’s at least one of everything like pizza, Chinese and shawarma,” she said. Major grocery store chains Kroger’s and Publix also have in-store kosher takeout, meat and bakery sections.

Aside from its Jewish community, Atlanta is rich in history, literally rising from the ashes after being burnt down during the Civil War to become the major center of culture, athletics, education and diversity that it is today. Its average temperature is in the low 60s, the cost of living is affordable, and the employment opportunities are vast, with major corporate headquarters like Coca-Cola and Home Depot. And of course, there’s plenty of Southern charm and hospitality to go around.

“If you move here, you won’t have to eat a Shabbat meal at home for months unless you specifically want to,” laughed Sara. “There’s often a waiting list of people who are eager to host you.”

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.