Why is a nearby synagogue a must for Jewish homebuyers?
For Orthodox Jews, it’s simply second nature to live within walking distance to a synagogue, also known as a shul. It’s not so much a matter of choice as it is a matter of strict observance of the laws of the Jewish Sabbath (“Shabbat” in Hebrew; “Shabbos” in Yiddish). The Sabbath represents the day that God rested after the 6 days of creation.
During Shabbat, which occurs between sundown Friday and an hour after sundown Saturday, Orthodox Jews are prohibited from doing any form of work or acts of “creation”, such as lighting a fire or initiating a spark of electricity. This translates to, among other things, not turning lights on or off, cooking, watching tv or browsing Facebook, as well as not riding a bicycle or driving a car.
Instead, it is a holy and spiritual day where time is spent with family and friends, having meals together, reading, studying, playing board games and attending services at synagogues worldwide. Since driving a car is prohibited, Orthodox Jews must walk to the synagogue, so living within a reasonable walking distance to a synagogue, or shul, is a must-have feature when looking to buy a home.
Newsday published an enlightening article, expertly written by Stav Ziv, about this requirement for Orthodox Jews.
Here is an excerpt from the Newsday article:
The two-bedroom apartment in Kew Gardens Hills had long since started to feel cramped. David Frankel, his wife, Cindy, and their three daughters loved the neighborhood, the people and the convenient synagogues and kosher shopping. But with five to a bathroom, there were just too many Frankels on that top floor of the two-family house, which had been their home for 18 years.
“We had everything we needed, recreationally, Jewish-ly,” says David, 46, of their Queens community, which they recently left for West Hempstead. “We outgrew our apartment.”
Like any prospective buyers, they had budgets and commutes to consider, but first and foremost, they would need to find a house within walking distance of a synagogue. For Orthodox Jews like the Frankels, the laws of the Sabbath — also called Shabbat — prohibit driving or riding in a car or any other vehicle from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.
It’s a great article that shouldn’t be missed and will help those unfamiliar with this topic learn more and understand why their home near a shul may hold additional value.