Faced with an uncertain national economy plus skyrocketing costs of housing and education, an increasing number of young Jewish families are choosing to move to the vibrant, affordable, and friendly community of Memphis, Tennessee.
Sensing an opportunity to welcome a skilled, talented cohort of active Jews looking to establish roots, the local Orthodox Jewish community has just initiated a three-year campaign to publicize the benefits of their city and to welcome those who are considering the move. The first big event will be their “A Taste of Jewish Memphis” weekend, where the Memphis ReJEWvenation Committee is preparing for dozens of families from around the country to spend a weekend learning about and enjoying the attractive lifestyle package that the city has to offer. The organizers are already well on their way to meeting their goal of 100 families joining the Memphis Jewish community.
The venerable Memphis community—founded over 150 years ago—has emerged as a viable way for young families to escape the onerous costs of suburban living while remaining in an environment that is favorable to raising children.
First-class jewish infrastructure. Featuring a superb Orthodox day school, the Memphis Jewish Community Center (including a preschool), four Orthodox synagogues with dynamic rabbis, and wide availability of kosher food.
Superior lifestyle. A friendly atmosphere and a less frenetic urban pace translates into shorter commutes, smoother human interactions, and an opportunity to enjoy Jewish life to its fullest. Housing is attractive and gracious—costing less than half of other Jewish metro areas. For children, the environment is a throwback to the idealized neighborhoods of 50 years ago.
Economic advantages. Tethered to a low cost of living is a solid range of jobs and careers in growing fields. In particular, Memphis is known for health care, logistics, and software. With no city or state income tax, young families making the move learn that in Memphis, they can do more than “survive” economically—they can actually build a stable financial foundation.
For prospective transplants, some of the most profound selling points are the personal stories of families much like their own who have recently made the move.
“It is the rare city where one can experience both small-town perks and an exceptional Jewish community, complete with choices of schools, synagogues, and activities,” says Dr. Lindi Vanderwalde, who, with her husband Ari, moved their four children here just a year ago from Los Angeles. Both physicians, they see a wide range of excellent opportunities, in particular within the Memphis health-care sector. But beyond the attractive facts and figures, their opinions are a reflection of the benefits of the Memphis lifestyle.
“The pace of life is slower and easier and it is much more family-friendly,” Lindi adds. “People are nice and accommodating, and care about each other. Protecting family time is a cultural value in the city—work ends comparatively early for even the busiest professionals.”
Rachel and Steven Schwartzberg moved to Memphis three years ago from Washington Heights and were overwhelmed by the support and hospitality they received from their new friends. Rachel, a writer at the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is pleased with their decision.
“This is certainly not the experience of most of our friends when they moved to communities in Long Island or New Jersey. An added plus for Memphis is that the winters are relatively mild and our commutes are less than a half-hour by car.”
Steven, who is in marketing at FedEx, notes that the timing of their move was just right: “We were ready to leave New York . . . we were done with the high costs of living, of never having the time or money to take advantage of all it had to offer. Also, we noticed that every Shabbos-meal discussion among our friends and neighbors revolved around when people would be moving away and where they would go.”
At the November 1 “A Taste of Jewish Memphis” weekend, visitors will enjoy full Southern home hospitality including a communal Shabbat dinner and Shabbat lunch with host families. They will have multiple opportunities to interact with local Orthodox families and speak with employment and real estate experts.
For further details about the weekend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 901-219-9794. Generous subsidies are available for travel to Memphis for the recruitment weekend, as well as for relocation costs.
Full information is available at www.100NewFamilies.com.