Kansas evokes images of rolling wheat plains, heartland values and Toto and Dorothy. But Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City (KC), is also home to a dynamic Orthodox Jewish community growing in small, but certain steps.
“Much of Overland Park’s growth in the past decade can be attributed to Congregation Beth Israel Abraham & Voliner (BIAV),” said Mindy Wajcman, who grew up in Kansas City but moved to Overland Park with her family to be a part of the BIAV community. BIAV is the only OU shul in Kansas and all of Western Missouri, but one which counts nearly 200 member families
“Many people see the benefits of raising a family in such a spiritually motivated and warm community,” continued Mindy. “The shul’s rabbi and lay leadership deeply value the importance of everyone having a role to play in making the synagogue thrive.”
Overland Park is also home to a few small Chabad centers, a K-12 day school, Matmidim program, two mikvaot, a kosher bakery and prepared kosher food at a local market, with a kosher co-op to help fill in the gaps. An active kollel, founded in 2007, offers numerous Torah scholarship opportunities, like classes and one-on-one learning, under the direction of Rabbi Shaya Katz.
“Overland Park offers affordable living, a great quality of life and a warm and cohesive shul,” said BIAV’s Rabbi Dani Rockoff proudly, “but we are also part of a large metro area with a plethora of employment opportunities for everyone from doctors, to engineers, IT professionals, to entrepreneurs.” Sprint, Garmin, Teva, and Hallmark are just some of the major companies with corporate headquarters in KC’s metro area.
Housing is abundant and affordable—a quick online search yield results like beautiful 4-bedroom homes for under $400,000 and townhomes in the $100,000 range. A volunteer network of professionals in the community helps prospective residents connect to job opportunities and get settled in homes with reduced rentals rates, free membership to the shul and several free months at the JCC.
“Overland Park is consistently rated as one of the top places to live in the United States,” said Rabbi Rockoff. “It’s an ideal place to raise a family.”
And, as Dorothy said, there’s no place like home.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.