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amother




OP


Post  Tue, May 07 2019, 12:58 pm
I am not quite ready to make a move but I would like to explore this option and visit the community to see if it's even a possibility. I may be giving away my ID by describing what I'm looking for but I ask that you keep any speculation to yourself. Listing my questions/concerns in random order.

1. What are the names of neighborhoods where there is frum community, affordable housing, and tuition vouchers or affordable tuition?

2. I am looking to rent rather than own a home. What is the rental scene like - what's the price range, do people rent apartments or houses, if apartments are there "frum" buildings, are there rentals in the frum neighborhoods in general?

3. Schools: What's the voucher/tuition situation there? Can you tell me about the schools frum people send to? We are middle of the road, not really yeshivish but not MO either, leaning more toward yeshivish in practice but more toward MO in open-mindedness... are there JPF ("Just plain frum") schools? Can you tell me about your schools? Do tuition vouchers/breaks depend on the schools or on where you live? If it depends on schools please specify if the schools you are talking about qualify.
Currently my children are in elementary school but in case we stay long term I would like to hear about high schools also. I have girls for whom sending away to dorm would not be an option for me personally.

3. More on schools: What accommodations and services are there for special needs? I have a couple of kids in the category of "needs a little help" in both social/emotional and academics. We are coming from NY where there is DOE support, and they are also in a school that is very supportive and teachers are well attuned to inclusion and differentiation. Please tell me about the Philly/area schools in this regard.

4. Community - what's it like to be new there? Are there ways to get to know people and make friends? Without meaning any LH sometimes people who have lived together longer are harder to get to know... I have people in my current community who are the warmest nicest people but their relationships can still be described as cliquey... KWIM?

5. Speaking of which, is it the kind of place where people live long-term and set up roots? I'm afraid to commit but after having lived in a transient home for a while I am craving a real home... I feel like I have solid "forever" footing in my current community but financially NY is not working out otherwise I would probably never leave Sad

6. Job market - I work in the field of education but I prefer not to look for a full-time classroom teaching job. I currently work as a private consultant, SEIT, and evaluator. I know SEIT and possibly also EI/preschool evaluations are a very NY thing and I realize that by moving away I will need to make some big personal adjustments. What kinds of jobs are there in the Philly area in education/special ed? Is there a market for part-time or contractual work? What are the salaries like? What are the salaries for full-time teaching jobs like? Please note that due to my family's needs I am NOT interested in after-school or weekend tutoring types of positions. Part time for me means while my children are in school.

7. OK, done with questions for now but open mic to tell me whatever you want.
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 12:19 pm
Bump. There must be someone here?!!
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amother




Pink


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 12:27 pm
I don't live there but my inlaws do and I can tell you the following until other people jump in.
The main neighborhoods are lower merion and the northeast. There is a small community in elkins park as well.
Lower Merion is thriving and growing - it houses the Kollel( yeshivish), Lower Merion Synongogue (modern) and Young Israel (in between. JPF)
Northeast is trying to build up (see the column on imamother on right side. I am seeing the ad flashing now.) maybe click their ad to get more info.
I don't know about rentals. I know houses are not cheap at all.
There is no voucher situation
3 schools - Torah Academy, Politz, and I don't even know the name of the modern one. I assume you'd send to TA or Politz.
High schools have KTA for girls, The Mesivta for boys, Philadelphia yeshiva for boys, or kohelet for co-ed.
People are very friendly and trying to build communities. People most definitely set up roots.
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 12:35 pm
amother [ Pink ] wrote:
I don't live there but my inlaws do and I can tell you the following until other people jump in.
The main neighborhoods are lower merion and the northeast. There is a small community in elkins park as well.
Lower Merion is thriving and growing - it houses the Kollel( yeshivish), Lower Merion Synongogue (modern) and Young Israel (in between. JPF)
Northeast is trying to build up (see the column on imamother on right side. I am seeing the ad flashing now.) maybe click their ad to get more info.
I don't know about rentals. I know houses are not cheap at all.
There is no voucher situation
3 schools - Torah Academy, Politz, and I don't even know the name of the modern one. I assume you'd send to TA or Politz.
High schools have KTA for girls, The Mesivta for boys, Philadelphia yeshiva for boys, or kohelet for co-ed.
People are very friendly and trying to build communities. People most definitely set up roots.

Thanks for chiming in!
I did see the ad. I would rather hear truth from random people than from someone actively trying to advertise...
I see that there is also a thread about it from when the ad first posted, one person said they live there and can offer information but that was followed by a bunch of people asking questions and no responses were posted. I don't want to bump there because it's anon-disabled and I'm not ready for people IRL to start commenting on my personal plans that aren't even plans yet. https://www.imamother.com/foru.....37789
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amother




Pink


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 12:37 pm
I'm happy to answer what I can. Again, I don't live there, but my in laws do and we visit alot.
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 12:50 pm
Can you describe the demographics? I.e. what percentage of the community is JPF as opposed to yeshivish/MO, where are the schools on that spectrum. And what's the standard of living, I know there are a lot of universities and hospitals and stuff so would my kids be going to school with high earning families who go on vacation all the time or are there mostly down to earth simple people?
If NE seems more affordable but LM seems to have more Jewish life going on, how far are those from each other?
Is the frum community concentrated in a few blocks or do kids need to be driven to each other to play etc?
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amother




Honeydew


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:15 pm
If you're looking for an affordable community, I would rule out Merion and Bala Cynwyd unless your job is in the city and you absolutely must be right near the city. I would check out the Northeast\Rhawnhurst and Elkins Park. The northeast is a larger jewish community than Elkins park, there a four shuls vs one shul in Elkins Park. For schools Politz is right in the Northeast neighborhood and is about 20 minutes from Elkins Park. You can also look into Torah Academy which is near Bala Cynwyd, but it will be about a 40 minute drive from the Northeast and Elkins Park. Elkins park is much nicer\prettier that the northeast, and the homes are a lot larger. There are apartments and houses for rent in the Northeast (I'm not sure about Elkins Park), but it is much harder to find a house for rent vs apartment. Both communities are really nice friendly and welcoming.
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amother




Teal


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:22 pm
I spent a Shabbos in Elkins Park a few years ago and it was a warm loving community. Everyone went to Shule for the kiddush, and there was also a Shalashudes every week for the women. It seemed to have a lot of JPF people.
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:33 pm
amother [ Honeydew ] wrote:
If you're looking for an affordable community, I would rule out Merion and Bala Cynwyd unless your job is in the city and you absolutely must be right near the city. I would check out the Northeast\Rhawnhurst and Elkins Park. The northeast is a larger jewish community than Elkins park, there a four shuls vs one shul in Elkins Park. For schools Politz is right in the Northeast neighborhood and is about 20 minutes from Elkins Park. You can also look into Torah Academy which is near Bala Cynwyd, but it will be about a 40 minute drive from the Northeast and Elkins Park. Elkins park is much nicer\prettier that the northeast, and the homes are a lot larger. There are apartments and houses for rent in the Northeast (I'm not sure about Elkins Park), but it is much harder to find a house for rent vs apartment. Both communities are really nice friendly and welcoming.

Thank you! Do you live there?

Do a lot of families live in apartments as opposed to houses? I'm coming from NY so apartment is more than fine for me if it's a decent one, but I want my kids to fit in and not feel like some poor trash from the apartments, if that's a thing.

What is the student/parent body of Politz like? Are there yeshivish families there?Philosophically I lean MO but I have more yeshivish standards of things like tznius, media consumption, etc. I'm OK with a mixed crowd but I definitely don't want to be one of the only more yeshivish families there. What about TA?
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amother




Indigo


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:36 pm
amother [ Pink ] wrote:
I don't live there but my inlaws do and I can tell you the following until other people jump in.
The main neighborhoods are lower merion and the northeast. There is a small community in elkins park as well.
Lower Merion is thriving and growing - it houses the Kollel( yeshivish), Lower Merion Synongogue (modern) and Young Israel (in between. JPF)
Northeast is trying to build up (see the column on imamother on right side. I am seeing the ad flashing now.) maybe click their ad to get more info.
I don't know about rentals. I know houses are not cheap at all.
There is no voucher situation
3 schools - Torah Academy, Politz, and I don't even know the name of the modern one. I assume you'd send to TA or Politz.
High schools have KTA for girls, The Mesivta for boys, Philadelphia yeshiva for boys, or kohelet for co-ed.
People are very friendly and trying to build communities. People most definitely set up roots.

In the Northeast and housing is very reasonable and property taxes are VERY low, around $2k. A typical house there is a 3 bedroom semi attached ranch with a ground level basement and a yard and it goes for max $250k.
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amother




Oak


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:36 pm
On education:

Pennsylvania is much less generous than NY. There is an SEIT type position for preschool, where you're sent into mainstream preschools and daycares to provide special instruction, but kids get fewer hours.

School districts in Pennsylvania are organized into Intermediate Units which are something like BOCES. The School District of Philadelphia comprises its own unit. Intermediate units handle preschool (confusingly referred to as Preschool Early Intervention). For Bala, it's the Montgomery County IU #23. SDP does not have a good reputation for pay, management, or services. The suburbs are better (Lower Merion is one of the best districts in the state). Pay will vary depending on experience, qualifications, etc so it's hard to say. Definitely lower than NYC BOE.

The county Early Intervention coordinates Birth to Three services and contracts with providers including evaluators and therapists.

Also, Cherry Hill, NJ, which is just across the river, has a community and NJ provides more extensive services. Keep in mind that if you live or work in the city of Philadelphia you will pay wage tax of just under 4% (nonresident commuters pay about half a percentage point less). If you live in NJ, this will be credited against state income tax.
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:37 pm
amother [ Teal ] wrote:
I spent a Shabbos in Elkins Park a few years ago and it was a warm loving community. Everyone went to Shule for the kiddush, and there was also a Shalashudes every week for the women. It seemed to have a lot of JPF people.

That's so sweet!

I'm going to flip the question a little... True I was looking for if there's a social life so it won't be too hard to get to know people, but the truth is I'm not so social. If you aren't the type to go to weekly kiddushes and shalosh seudos, does that make you "out of it?" I don't want to be a snob or anything, and I want to be engaged in the community in terms of service and events and shiurim and contribution and friendliness... but weekly kiddush would be torture for me. I can handle if you can get away with just saying hi to a few people and escaping but the things where you stand around.... ugh no only for a simcha and even then ugh. However I will gladly set up your chinese auction, run or attend your shiurim, join your partners in Torah, volunteer at the school, watch your kids in the park, send you food when you're sick, and so on. I just won't stand around and mingle any more than I have to. And I have been to communities where you have to. That's what makes them "warm and welcoming" and I loved the warm welcome but didn't feel like I'd want to stay if I have to get dressed and go out every week! Day of rest, anyone?! Shalosh seudos with a book please?!
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:41 pm
amother [ Oak ] wrote:
On education:

Pennsylvania is much less generous than NY. There is an SEIT type position for preschool, where you're sent into mainstream preschools and daycares to provide special instruction, but kids get fewer hours.

School districts in Pennsylvania are organized into Intermediate Units which are something like BOCES. The School District of Philadelphia comprises its own unit. Intermediate units handle preschool (confusingly referred to as Preschool Early Intervention). For Bala, it's the Montgomery County IU #23. SDP does not have a good reputation for pay, management, or services. The suburbs are better (Lower Merion is one of the best districts in the state). Pay will vary depending on experience, qualifications, etc so it's hard to say. Definitely lower than NYC BOE.

The county Early Intervention coordinates Birth to Three services and contracts with providers including evaluators and therapists.

Also, Cherry Hill, NJ, which is just across the river, has a community and NJ provides more extensive services. Keep in mind that if you live or work in the city of Philadelphia you will pay wage tax of just under 4% (nonresident commuters pay about half a percentage point less). If you live in NJ, this will be credited against state income tax.

OK, that sounds like a bit of a learning curve but definitely promising. It sounds like the suburbs are not a bad commute if the pay is better, and depending how much lower the pay is it also sounds like NOT commuting could be a plus.
I am thinking that tuition tax credits and $1000 rental homes would nicely offset a lower pay grade. I will need some help to do the math. Does anyone know where one could get advice and help in figuring these things out?

What about within the Jewish schools, any career opportunities there or are they pretty stable with their staff already?
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amother




Green


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 1:49 pm
It doesn’t sound like you have a spouse since I don’t think you mentioned one.
If so, are you okay moving to a new community on your own??
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 2:07 pm
amother [ Green ] wrote:
It doesn’t sound like you have a spouse since I don’t think you mentioned one.
If so, are you okay moving to a new community on your own??

Hoping to find a community that's a good enough fit to pull it off. I don't have much of a choice at this point, NY is just not working out anymore.
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amother




OP


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 2:09 pm
Also, I know a couple of families in Philly suburbs so while they won't be enough of a community for me, they can probably help introduce me to people and would definitely be good for some Shabbos invites when needed. And it's close enough to NY/NJ that I could still go back for yom tov with old friends and family if I want.
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amother




Amber


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 2:56 pm
What is the student/parent body of Politz like? Are there yeshivish families there?Philosophically I lean MO but I have more yeshivish standards of things like tznius, media consumption, etc. I'm OK with a mixed crowd but I definitely don't want to be one of the only more yeshivish families there. What about TA?


Families from the Philadelphia yeshiva and the kollel send mostly to Politz. The kids are a minority but they have each other. In Torah academy they are even more of a minority
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livinginflatbus




 
 
 


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 3:07 pm
I spent a shabbos in Elkins park by some friends. The community is very together like everyone is on a bunch of committee and they always have shiurim. Idk, if your not so social you might feel out of it though the people are lovely.
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the world's best mom




 
 
 


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 5:41 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
That's so sweet!

I'm going to flip the question a little... True I was looking for if there's a social life so it won't be too hard to get to know people, but the truth is I'm not so social. If you aren't the type to go to weekly kiddushes and shalosh seudos, does that make you "out of it?" I don't want to be a snob or anything, and I want to be engaged in the community in terms of service and events and shiurim and contribution and friendliness... but weekly kiddush would be torture for me. I can handle if you can get away with just saying hi to a few people and escaping but the things where you stand around.... ugh no only for a simcha and even then ugh. However I will gladly set up your chinese auction, run or attend your shiurim, join your partners in Torah, volunteer at the school, watch your kids in the park, send you food when you're sick, and so on. I just won't stand around and mingle any more than I have to. And I have been to communities where you have to. That's what makes them "warm and welcoming" and I loved the warm welcome but didn't feel like I'd want to stay if I have to get dressed and go out every week! Day of rest, anyone?! Shalosh seudos with a book please?!
I was that amother. Yes, I do get the feeling that you kind of have to go to the kiddush. I didn't want to go because I hate getting dressed and going out on Shabbos, and my host said she can't stay home because you just can't miss the kiddush. So I went and it was nice. But I can see that being annoying if I were to move there (which we are starting to consider a little bit).
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amother




Purple


Post  Wed, May 08 2019, 5:45 pm
I grew up in Philadelphia and really loved it. It’s a really warm community and one of the things I pride it on is the fact that it is so diverse. I went to KTA and had girls in my class who went to seminaries all across the spectrum- and everyone truly respected each other l.
I grew up in lower Merion but had friends in hs from both areas. It truly is a special community.
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