The Charms of Rochester, NY

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08 Mar 2017

Nestled on the Southern shore of Lake Ontario, Rochester, NY is known for its slightly unpredictable weather and family-friendly living – Orthodox Jewish families included.

Find out more about Rochester at the OU Jewish Communities Fair on April 30

With three Orthodox shuls and several Chabad centers, two day schools, separate boys’ and girls’ yeshiva high schools and a mikveh, eruv and kosher food availability, Rochester is a fantastic choice for families seeking the conveniences of a big city and the beauty of scenic, suburban living. And to Brooklyn residents weary with hour-long neighborhood commutes, perhaps the best thing of all: “You can get anywhere in Rochester in 10 minutes because there’s virtually no traffic,” said Rabbi Avi Kilimnick, a Rochester native who returned there with his wife in 2011 after attending YU’s rabbinical school.

Avi’s parents, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shaya and Nechi Kilimnick, helped revitalize Orthodox Jewish life in Rochester when they began leading Congregation Beth Sholom, the area’s largest Orthodox synagogue, 40 years ago.

“When the Kilimnicks arrived, I saw a great surge in Orthodox Judaism and commitment to Torah learning among people like myself, who weren’t necessarily raised in an Orthodox setting,” said Steven Schwartz. Schwartz was born and raised in Rochester and returned there after stints in Israel and Manhattan to raise his family. “The Kilimnicks’ influence has helped build up this community. There are Torah learning opportunities morning and night, every day.”

And, like many other smaller, out-of-town communities, Rochester prides itself on inclusivity and warmth.

Steve also echoes Avi’s claims of no traffic. “Rochester is not a small city, but it’s so easy to navigate because there’s rarely traffic. Furthermore, the Jewish community is concentrated in a small area, so you have everything you need for Jewish life within a ten-mile radius.”

So daven Shacharit with a minyan at shul, pack a delicious shawarma pita from the Sabra Grill for lunch, and head to nearby Finger Lakes, a major tourist attraction, for a day of water sports, biking or hiking. You’ll wonder why you would ever want to be anywhere else.

Check out more Torah communities outside the metropolitan area at our biannual Communities Fair on April 30!

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