Sunday, June 14, 2009

Allentown: An Emerging Community

[First: A great new edition of Haveil Havalim is available here!]

I expect to be at the OU's Emerging Communities Fair for a few hours today, marketing my community of Allentown, PA - even as we are moving to Toronto in August, Gd-willing.

I know it sounds odd to be marketing a community as you are leaving, but (1) No one is in position to talk about a community like the shul rabbi is, and (2) I believe it is an emerging, strong community.

Of course, the ideal 'emerging community' is in Israel, where new communities are constantly emerging, where there are great schools, where you can find a great quality of life, etc. But for those who cannot make the leap for family, medical, financial or other reasons, Allentown is a great option.

Among other things, we have:
A warm, united community;
A community where everyone can come in and make a real difference in the shul, school, Federation and more;
A beautiful shul with a meaningful davening;
Morning and evening minyanim;
A ton of learning, from Daf Yomi to Conversational Hebrew;
A great new mikvah;
A well-maintained eruv;
Great parks and playgrounds;
NCSY and Bnei Akiva programming;
A great community Day School which tries to meet the needs of all students;
Lots of jobs;
Proximity to New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

That my family is leaving is largely a function of the absence of a Jewish high school, but for those for whom high school is not yet a factor, Allentown is worth a look, and then some!

So please stop in at our booth at Lander College, 277 W. 60th Street, today! I look forward to seeing you there.


  1. Good luck! I remember hearing from people in some of the other 'Emerging Communities' on the list last year that they were offended by being labeled as 'emerging' when they've been around for decades, if not longer. But i guess "small communities" doesn't sound as exciting.

  2. Maybe they need to re-title this program "The 10 best kept secrets-- a showcase of frum communities in the US." I had to laugh last year when Seattle was one of the 10 "emerging" communities. Someone define emerging to me when a community of about a century in age with a thriving, vibrant community life, with elementary and high schools, with shuls, multiple, can still be known as emerging. IMHO, this is a New York-ism, and it doesn't play well in Peoria.

  3. I saw a book in the library called "Gritty Cities." Allentown and Bethlehem were 2 out of the 9 cities featured. "Emerging Community" has such a better ring to it!

  4. i was disappointed that Upstate New York only included the capital district, and not the more western, equally-awesome-but-in-need-of-more-Jews communities in places like Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester and Buffalo/Amherst — or the venerable communities of the Catskills!

  5. Steg-
    It was better than "Unemployed Fair," anyway...

    Yes, we're not exactly "emerging" in the 'new and pioneering' sense, but I prefer it to "Out of Town" or "Small Communities," anyway.

    Gritty? How old was the book?

    Steg (2)-
    Do you know if they applied?

  6. Sort of fits in with this posting Rabbi. Someone over for dinner tonight was fooling around with Jewish demographics. His figures showed that about 2700 frum couples got married in the NY Metropolitan area last year. If only half those couples--1350--in groups of 50 couples moved to these emerging cities plus a few more, amazing things could happen in smaller communities. 50 young couples guaruntees continuity for day schools and yeshivas. He figured that if even 25 couples moved to each place they could make a difference. Maybe recruiters should be haunting wedding venues.

  7. Steg (2)-
    Do you know if they applied?

    I don't know, rav... how does the system work?

  8. ProfK-
    Yes, that's the feeling I have every time I visit Brooklyn, or daven in a minyan factory in Bergen County, NJ.

    Not really sure. We tried hard to get into Round 1, and were contacted for Round 2.