A Moving Checklist
Suggestions on how to go about relocating to a new Jewish community
For many Jews, moving to a new home comes with the added challenge of getting acquainted with a new Jewish community. Though some of the advice given here may not be relevant for everyone--not everyone hangs a mezuzah on their doorposts, for instance--the following suggestions can help alleviate some of the stress of finding your way into and around a new Jewish community.
Check the Internet
Search for the website of the local (or closest) Jewish Federation. The easiest way to do this is to visit the website of United Jewish Communities, the organization linking all North American Jewish Federations, www.ujc.org. Most Federation sites feature guides to local congregations, schools, community centers, singles events, and local Jewish activities. Often, one can also obtain from the Federation a "welcome package" that includes a guide to community services or a trial subscription to the local Jewish newspaper.
Check the website of the local Jewish newspaper. Most, but not all, local Jewish newspapers have their own website. Reading articles on the site will often give you a general idea of the demographics of the community, its political bent, its issues of concern, and its diversity (or homogeneity). (Links to some Jewish newspaper sites can be found by clicking here.)
Check the web for resources you know you will need to access. Most synagogues, JCCs, and day schools have their own websites. Some cities have a general website about their Jewish community and its resources. (Links to some community sites can be found by clicking here.)
If you are committed to a specific Jewish movement, check the website of the movement for local congregations. (The links can be found by clicking here.)
Does your friend's brother live in your new hometown? Did your college buddy live there for awhile? What about the children of your father's tennis partner? Even a mere acquaintance can sometimes give you a useful introduction to local Jewish life. Here are some other people likely to help:
Ask your realtor. If you are buying a home, ask your real estate agent about Jewish neighborhoods or ask to see homes near a particular synagogue or school.
Ask your rabbi. Many times, your current rabbi (or cantor) will be able to tell you a bit about Jewish life and resources in even distant communities, or hook you up with someone who can.