Stephen Steiner is Director of Public Relations at the Orthodox Union.
Photos by Meir Kruter.
Design by Atara Arbesfeld.
Americans tend to move a lot. Proof of this state of affairs was evident on Sunday, April 26, when on a cool and sunny spring day, almost 2,000 people from the New York Metropolitan area, spanning the gamut of Orthodox observance, and ranging from young couples to retirees and soon-to-be retirees, flocked to the Orthodox Union’s Fifth International Communities Home and Job Relocation Fair in New York. Drawn by the lure of 47 American communities and for those interested in aliyah, Israeli locales as well, the visitors made a cross-country and international tour of future places to live a full, satisfying Orthodox life, at a more affordable cost of living than in New York and its affluent suburbs.
The presence of a stroller parking lot indicated the overwhelming presence of young couples with their babies, with reasonably priced housing on their minds, and yeshiva tuitions in their future. The aisles were so jammed, in fact, that the young parents were required to park their strollers, which meant that the youngest generation of Jewish children toured the fair in the arms of their mommies and daddies, as their future was being planned.
Based on the results of the previous four Fairs (the last one was held in 2013), starting with Shabbat visits and home hospitality to communities of their choice, many of those at the Fair, of all ages, will be contacting moving companies about rates in the near future.
Each community emphasized not only its moderate cost of living, but availability of jobs as well. The OU Job Board was present, to provide resume guidance and to work with the communities on marketing their employment opportunities. Many communities were represented by the rabbis of one or more of their OU member synagogues, to discuss Orthodox life and to assure guests of a warm welcome when it comes time to join their congregations.
Photo highlights of the Fair follow:
Go West Young Couple – and Others: The Fair was held at Metropolitan West, a special events venue on the far West Side of Manhattan, across wide 12th Avenue from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. For Fair-goers, however, the OU event was the prime attraction.
Traffic Jam: No parking tickets were given, there were no parking meters, but strollers had their own parking lot, to accommodate the scores of infants, toddlers and other very young children who accompanied their parents to the Fair; many of these children will grow up in communities other than the ones where they are living now. Somewhat older children had tables with crayons and drawing paper to keep them busy while their parents discussed housing and other (to these and all the children) topics of great significance for their futures.
A Few Weeks Ago, it Would Have Been Chametz: Elkins Park, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, included Israel Roling of Roling’s Bakery in its delegation. Delicious pastry was part of the community’s appeal.
Present at the Creation: OU President Martin Nachimson (left) visits with former OU chairman and president Stephen J. Savitsky, who created the Community Fair back in 2008. Mr. Savitsky beamed as he witnessed how his idea has grown over the years. Both presidents have visited countless communities, including many that were represented at this year’s Fair.
A Family Affair: The whole family considers making aliyah at a consultation with Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Home Sweet Home: This young couple makes itself at home as it considers one community’s promotional materials.
Well Dressed: Representatives of Springfield, NJ were hard to miss in their tee-shirts.
The Host with the Most Interviews the Hostess with the Mostess: Nachum Segal, host of JM in the AM and the Nachum Segal Network, interviews Hannah Farkas of the OU Department of Community Engagement, who coordinated the Fair. Despite the fact that she reported to work at 5:00 a.m., Ms. Farkas was full of energy throughout the day.
Pointing Out the Highlights: Jacksonville, Florida’s representative points out reasons why a move to the northern Florida city would benefit this guest.
A Job Well Done: Rabbi Judah Isaacs (left), director of the OU Department of Community Engagement, is congratulated by Emanuel J. Adler, chairman of the Commission on Synagogue and Community Services, which oversees the department, for a job well done.
Let’s Try Another Community: This toddler appears to have turned down one venue and wants to visit another. Mom and Dad are willing to oblige.
Relocating Is No Laughing Matter: Or maybe it is. Happy faces are seen at this exhibit – and all others as well.
Remember the Alamo: They certainly do, at the San Antonio booth.
Kansas City Here We Come: Or at least that’s what the representatives of Overland Park, Kansas have in mind.
Considering Aliyah: Nefesh B’Nefesh and OU Israel were present at the Fair to counsel families considering relocation to Israel.
The Lion of Judah Welcomes You: And so does this representative of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Raanana Welcomes You: And so does all of Israel.
All Smiles in Cincinnati: No surprise, considering the many visitors who dropped by during the day.
Seeking Greener Pastures: Apparently, this young couple found many communities to consider.
Welcome Home: Fair participants haven’t even moved yet, but this community already considers itself to be home.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Communities emphasized employment opportunities for those considering relocation.
Hot off the Press: OU Press books were for sale at the Fair.
“May Our Eyes Behold….” These two sisters are contemplating making aliyah after high school graduation. The baby belongs to a friend.
The Garden State Turned Out in Force: New Jersey led all states with 10 communities at the Fair.
You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog: Elvis (aka Lee Baum) was there to represent, where else, Memphis.