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
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.