Two Monmouth County Orthodox synagogues will again seek new members as they represent their communities at the Orthodox Union’s Fifth International Jewish Communities Home and Job Relocation Fair.
The event — which emphasizes that “there is thriving Orthodox Jewish life beyond the boundaries of New York City” — will include exhibit booths from 45 communities in 22 states.
All hope to lure Orthodox families to their communities by describing their amenities, including synagogues, yeshivot/day schools, mikva’ot, and kosher food purveyors. Many will position themselves as affordable alternatives to the high cost of living an Orthodox Jewish life in New York City.
“This year will see the largest community participation in the fair’s history,” said Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of the OU’s Department of Community Engagement. The fair will take place on Sunday, April 26, noon-6 p.m. at Metropolitan West on West 46th Street in Manhattan.
“We exhibited four years ago and then again two years ago, and each time we’ve had more to offer,” said Rabbi Chaim Veshnefsky of Bais Torah U’Tefillah in Manalapan. “When we started, we didn’t even have a school. Now we have a mikva, eruv, several kosher restaurants, butchers, and grocers.”
Dr. Andrew Samuel, copresident of Congregation Brothers of Israel in Long Branch, said his synagogue’s goal is to “recruit members and students for our Ashkenazi Modern Orthodox community and the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore,” an elementary school in nearby Ocean.
The Long Branch/Deal area is home to a large community of Syrian/Sephardi Orthodox Jews.
“Beyond the infrastructure of an Orthodox community that is as good as that found in any large city,” said Judie Boim, CBI’s other copresident, “what Long Branch offers is the friendliness and warmth of a small town, a place where friends become family, a place where every member has a voice and a chance to contribute his or her talents.”
Boim also lauded the local job market in Monmouth County. Noting that Freehold is the county seat and Eatontown a hive of retailing and light industry, she said, “There are opportunities for lawyers, IT people, engineers, and managers. There are multiple avenues to finding a job within easy commuting distance, thereby increasing quality of life.”
Aware that his community is in competition with other exhibitors at the fair, Samuel said CBI “formed a committee of synagogue volunteers and then hired a professional to help us design our booth and collateral materials such as tote bags, information pamphlets, and a website.”
In addition, the Shore-area shul will distribute materials created by such local agencies as Monmouth County Economic Development, Long Branch Chamber of Commerce, the JSOR local kashrut supervising agency, area schools, and such potential employers as area medical centers.
“We are also working with a professional marketing consultant to assist us with our presence on social media. It’s a lot of work,” said Samuel.
CBI will send about 10 volunteers to the fair, but owing to limitations imposed by OU’s show management department, only three will work the booth at any one time.
Other NJ communities that will be represented at the fair include Cherry Hill, East Brunswick, Fair Lawn, Linden, Paramus, Springfield, Twin Rivers, and West Orange.
“The OU fair is an opportunity to ‘get us on the map,’” said Samuel, “and to publicize the amazing, active, inclusive community that we have with all of the infrastructure that an Orthodox family needs for a great life, including jobs, excellent day schools, kosher food stores and restaurants, beautiful geography, easy transportation to New York, recreation, and affordable housing. If we are successful, the entire area benefits.”
“The objective behind establishing growing communities as places for relocation was the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” said Stephen J. Savitsky, who was OU president in 2008 when the first fair was held.
“The decision to move is a significant one, and informed by a variety of factors,” said Allen Fagin, OU’s executive vice president. “By attending the Jewish Communities Fair, you come one step closer to turning your dream into a reality,” he said.