Three Questions about the Jewish Community of…Buffalo, NY (USA)

With Rob Goldberg, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Buffalo

Tell us about Jewish Buffalo:
Jewish Buffalo is a relatively tight-knit community of approximately 10,000.  While it only represents less than 1% of the greater population in the region, its impact is felt through the leadership of so many families in law, medicine, education, and the arts.  Nearly 75% of the population lives in suburban areas, concentrated mostly in the Town of Williamsville.  There is a JCC system with both a city and suburban building, two Reform congregations, one Conservative congregation, 6 Orthodox shuls and a variety of other non-affiliated worship groups. The Federation system raises nearly 3M annually and supports a range of agencies – from the Hillel on the campus of the University of  Buffalo to a Jewish Family Service and Holocaust Resource Center – as well as a number of educational and engagement efforts that touch all sectors of the community.

Tell us five things that are unique to the Buffalo Jewish community? 

  • An overall spirit of cooperation among synagogues, rabbis and leaders
  • A warm and welcoming atmosphere that is symbolic of many Midwestern communities
  • An embrace of our reality as a smaller community (60 years ago we were double the size) and the commitment to be “small” and “mighty”
  • Innovation – Buffalo is a city known for innovation in aerospace, manufacturing, architecture, the arts and a variety of other sectors, and the Jewish community reflects that, in particular, the Federation that is always seeking new ways to engage more Jews in having a meaningful Jewish experience
  • Our proximity to Niagara Falls and the Canadian border
Please share a community program or activity that you feel would be beneficial for other communities to know about:
Security has been at the forefront of our agenda since the Tree of Life massacre last fall. Buffalo moved swiftly to raise funds (over $225,000), hire a dedicated security professional, and to begin to distribute grants for synagogues and agencies to harden their buildings, train leaders, etc. In less than a year, we’ve accomplished that and so much more and serve as a model for other communities of our size. There is, as a result, a general sense of appreciation among community members for this commitment to ensure a safer and more secure Jewish Buffalo, and the need and effort have brought us even closer together.