March 7, 2024

Curating Your GMW Jewish Experience

Andrea Bergman Community Concierge

Updated from original post on October 19, 2023

Now more than ever, finding Jewish community feels critical to experiencing a sense of belonging. Read on to hear about real people in Greater MetroWest who are building Jewish community in ways that are meaningful to them.     

A young dad was offered a new job in Greater MetroWest, so he and his partner begin looking for a town with convenient access to a Jewish school for their child. They reach out to Federation for guidance, and we connect them to a local realtor and our local Jewish schools. They find a house, move in, enroll their child in the school, receive a GMW Right Start gift voucher to help cover the tuition, AND meet other young families at our local PJ Library Family Fun in the Sun backyard gathering.   

“We feel blessed to move to this wonderful community that has been friendly, super welcoming, and supportive,” they said.     

An out-of-state octogenarian was looking to move into a 55+ active adult retirement community where he can meet other Jewish people. We connected him to residents of three different communities, and he got an apartment in his first choice. Once he settled in, we helped him find a synagogue and connected him with programs and services that meet his needs.    

A local community member wanted to organize Jewish activities in her town. She asked if Federation could provide items to help mark Havdalah (the end of Shabbat), be on-site to answer questions, and help her with follow-up and additional planning. Of course, we could… and we did!!! This dynamic group keeps growing (they’re now 90 members strong) and, since that first program they’ve celebrated Shabbat and Hanukkah together. They’re planning their Purim celebration and many from the group have attended recent Federation events together. One woman was inspired to host a packing party of supplies for local women in need that they will donate to Jewish Vocational Service (one of Federation’s partner agencies).   

A couple wanted to know what they can do to show their support for friends who are currently in Israel. We directed them to our Israel at War Resource webpage where they learned how they could donate to the Emergency Fund for Israel and about opportunities to hear from October 7 survivors and other Israel experts speaking in the community.     

Federation is committed to being your go-to source for all things Jewish in Greater MetroWest (Essex, Morris, Union, Sussex, and Somerset County) and created a new role – Community Concierge – based on data from our 2020 Jewish Community Study. This position is part of our new Welcoming and Inclusion Initiative, aiming to lower barriers to getting involved and taking advantage of Greater MetroWest’s excellent resources.   

Much like a hotel concierge who knows exactly who to call and what to recommend in their respective city, I am that friendly and welcoming professional tapped into this community to help you chart and identify your personal Jewish experience here in Greater MetroWest. I am  here to help you find what you need whether you’re new to the area, planning on moving here, or are a long-time resident… whether you’re looking for a synagogue, help finding a job, or a new group of friends… or whether you want resources for yourself or a family member, ideas on how to connect to local Jewish life, or advice on how to help those in need.      

I can connect you with the many incredible communal assets in Greater MetroWest, including local social service providers (Did you know we have three Jewish community centers and four Jewish day schools?), synagogues, day and sleepaway camps, early childhood centers, as well as the resources and programs we offer at Federation. I can also help you with items outside the Federation circle – ask and I’ll see what I can do!      

Our team is hosting events to ensure we meet, connect with, and engage all who want to find us. Through our four Facebook Groups (read more here), we are promoting Greater MetroWest as a wonderful Jewish community where anyone and everyone can find meaningful ways to get involved. You can find us at secular and Jewish community events, like town menorah lightings, Pride festivals, and more, and our Welcome webpage is a one-stop shop for all things Greater MetroWest. As we continue to build this new program, we want to get the word out about our efforts and this incredible service we provide. Please help us spread the word!   

For more information and to get in touch, check out our Welcome webpage or contact me at [email protected]. I can’t wait to hear from you!