“I’m here today because there seems to be an attitude in the Jewish world that there’s Los Angeles, Chicago, New York – and other than that there’s nothing.” So says Rabbi Joel Zeff at the Los Angeles Information Session for Kenesset Israel Torah Center of Sacramento, CA. Held on Sunday at the LA home of Alex & Jen Altberg, who are themselves making the move north to Sacramento from LA, the event was warm and intimate.
Rabbi Zeff described the Sacramento community by noting, “There is achdut and shalom. There’s no fighting.” And there are currently sixty member families. Rabbi Zeff is equally enthusiastic about the city of Sacramento. “Sacramento is a wonderful place,” he said. “You have the symphony, world-class museums, outdoor sports and recreation. It’s also a beautiful place; they actually call it the city of trees. We live in a very frantic world. But people are friendly there. No one honks at you. The quality of life is beautiful.”
The Kenesset Israel community was founded in Sacramanto in1982 and has come a long way since then. They have an eruv, established by Rabbi Adir Posy. They have a close relationship with Chabad of Sacramento, which recently built a new mikvah building. There is plentiful kosher food available, and a highly-rated Kindergarten through 6th Jewish day school. The Shalom School has been in the community for 25 years. While there is no high school yet, no-one is ruling one out. “Everything is a function of the community’s needs,” says Rabbi Zeff.
Dale Debber is one of those members. He made the trip down to the LA meeting in support of the growth effort. “We have a wonderful Orthodox community in Sacramento,” he said. “It’s clear that adding to that community will make it more wonderful.” He and his family have been in Sacramento for over 22 years; it’s where his kids grew up. And he isn’t bothered by it being out-of-the way. “Do we have as many restaurants? No. But we have a pioneering spirit, which is very valuable – and very Jewish.”
Michael Feldman, another attendee of Sunday’s meeting, was also enthusiastic about his experiences in Sacramento. “I’ve never encountered a place that gets it quite as right as Kenesset Israel,” he said. “Having a leader like Rabbi Zeff, as well as the lay-people there, brings the best out of everybody. There’s a palpable spirituality and sense of purpose that is truly unique.”
In addition to the warm community and quality of life, Sacramento boasts one other major advantage: affordability. “Not everyone can live in Beverlywood,” says Rabbi Zeff. Alex Altberg stresses the affordable cost of living. $200,000 starter homes are widely available alongside a thriving job market which includes government, health, academic, and high tech jobs. “The point is that for people who really want to stay in California in an Orthodox community, this is by far the most affordable option.” Rabbi Zeff agrees. “We want people to know that if you want to live a full Jewish life, in a place with a high quality of life, that is affordable, Sacramento is an option.”
This was the first of a series of events to introduce Kenesset Israel to LA. For more information, contact Rabbi Joel Zeff at email@example.com.