Fellow Jews: do you consder proximity to Jewish neighborhood critical in job-hunting?

In most cities I’ve been in, the vast majority of the metropolitan area’s Jews are concentrated in one neighborhood, with most of the remainder scattered on the fringes of that neighborhood, and a few living in what could be called the “diaspora of the diaspora”.

Here in Cleveland, the center of the area’s 85,000-strong Jewish community is the eastern suburb of Beachwood. Most Jews either live in Beachwood, or in surrounding suburbs; Shaker Heights, University Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Pepper Pike, and Orange. A few are scattered further out, but almost all of the area’s Jews live in the eastern Heights-area suburbs or the Chagrin Valley. Every Jew I’ve met in Cleveland works either downtown or on the East Side. None work on the West Side of Cleveland or the suburbs west of the Cuyahoga, where there would be a long commute from the “promised land” of Beachwood.

My question to Jewish Dopers: if you’ve consider relocating from a region, would you only consider work that is close to a Jewish neighborhood? Would you turn down a job in west suburban Cleveland, south suburban Dallas, south suburban Chicago, the Illinois side of the St. Louis metro, or similar areas? What if the perfect job came along, but it was in a city that had only a small Jewish community, such as Salt Lake City, Portland or Albuquerque?

I’m in a similar situation in Cincinnati. I thought I was non-practicing enough for it not to be an issue, but do have some regrets that we moved to Northern Kentucky (with no temples) instead of the areas around Cincinnati that have a Jewish presence (primarily Blue Ash). So I’d say that yes, if you have any inkling that you’d want to be near any Jewish things, go for the area that has them. Besides, the Beachwood area of Cleveland seems pretty nice, from my business trips there.

I’m Orthodox, which means that I would very, very strongly want to live within walking distance (a mile at the outside) of an Orthodox synagogue. Orthodox families tend to concentrate geographically for this very reason, and I’ve only known Orthodox people to live outside of a community for relatively short-term, pressing situations, like military postings, or only-got-into-rural-vet-school. We wouldn’t consider living in a city without an Orthodox community, and would need to work within an hour (or so) drive, during rush hour, of that community. If the community was very small, we’d be worried about having a reasonable peer group (other young Orthodox adults, be they singles, couples, or families), and about suitable Jewish schools for the Hypothetical Children.

The reason I’m asking: I’m probably going to accept an offer for what may be the perfect job in the Austin area. Austin has a growing Jewish community, but it looks like it’s concentrated in an area about three miles northwest of downtown. My job will be 20 miles to the northeast of Central Austin. I don’t want a commute from hell like with my last job, but I don’t want to feel that isolated, either, so I’m going to try to find a place between downtown Austin and work.

I’m a convert, and I consider myself average when it comes to practicing. I don’t feel obligated to live in a modern shetl like a Beachwood or Bloomfield Hills, but I don’t want to be only Jew for miles around, either.

To me, it would depend on just how long the commute from one to the other is. But some folk have greater commuting tolerance than others.

I like having a Jewish neighborhood nearby for the really great food!


When Mr. Neville was looking for a professorship, we only considered cities with substantial Jewish populations. We ended up in a Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We’ve agreed we’re not going to relocate for me to get a job, so the issue shouldn’t come up again (unless, God forbid, he gets denied tenure).

We have another issue that you might not, though. We keep kosher. That means, if we live in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of Jews, it’s likely to be quite a schlep any time we want to buy meat or poultry.