When Ariella Shaffren moved to Southfield, MI, from Teaneck, NJ, in 2012, one of the first things she noticed was the more relaxed pace of life.
“No one honks their cars, no one is rushing anywhere, and commutes to work match the actual times listed on Google maps!” she said.
Aside from less harried driving, Ariella said she chose to move to Southfield, a northern suburb of Detroit, for its communal warmth. “Even before our move, community members connected with us and treated us as if they knew us forever,” she said.
Rabbi Yechiel Morris, who has led the Young Israel of Southfield since 2002, noted that Southfield, owing to its well-established Jewish community, has hospitability down to a science.
“It’s difficult to move here and get lost in the shuffle,” he explained. “Our community has been reaching out to young families for over a decade, and we do it well.”
It’s an assertion bolstered by numbers—Southfield has welcomed 40 families in recent years, most of whom are attracted to the option of being in a warm and friendly Jewish community that has numerous Jewish resources already in place.
There is a number of Modern Orthodox schools and yeshivot catering to various observance levels and offering tuition under $10,000; an expansive eruv; two mikvaot; and kosher restaurants and bakeries. There is a host of chesed organizations and an active Jewish Federation that offers programs for people from all walks of Jewish life. Additional schools and kollelim are nearby the greater Detroit area.
As for Southfield itself, the city offers a cosmopolitan feel thanks to its diverse range of residents and excellent city services, as well as affordability—most 3-4 bedroom homes are under $200,000.
“The biggest adjustment, for us, was living without family nearby, but we have made friends here who have really been helpful,” said Ariella. “Just recently there were huge winds, and many people were without power. Southfield’s Jewish community has a Facebook group, and people were constantly posting offering meals, hospitality, and anything to help those without power. In our community, everyone is there for one another.”