After living on the Upper West Side for five years, we were looking to move and we wanted a change from the large community that is the UWS. We didn't want the same type of place, packed to the gills and easy to get lost in crowds. We wanted to somehow still have an easy commute to the city, where we both work, and find a place that we could consider living as opposed to just another place we would rent for a few years then move again. After a Google search for Jewish communities in Westchester, we found Fleetwood. They happened to be hosting an open house that weekend to welcome prospective couples and families which we quickly signed up for. Within 5 minutes at the event we found Fleetwood inviting, warm, and welcoming. Plus the shul was a five-minute walk to the Metro-North!
We spent a Shabbat in the community and immediately discovered Fleetwood to be a wonderful, friendly environment where everyone who wants takes part in leading and organizing shul events and programs. We moved in during the summer, and by the chagim, we were helping cook for our communal Simchat Torah dinner. We were both instrumental in outreach efforts for the shul, as well as planning our now annual comedy night. There was no barrier to take a leadership role- it was as simple as volunteering, sharing our thoughts, and making things happen.
What pleasantly surprised us about the neighborhood was that everything we needed was so close. We knew we had chosen Fleetwood partially because of the easy commute to the city- a 5-minute walk to the Metro-North, then a 30-minute train ride - but there was almost everything we needed within walking distance: groceries, dry cleaners, liquor, florist, and a pharmacy all located adjacent to the shul; no car necessary! And of course, Riverdale and New Rochelle kosher shops and restaurants were just a 10-minute drive in either direction. Options for Modern Orthodox schools are nearby, including SAR, WTA, and WDS.
Shabbatot here are lovely! It is rare to see anyone eating lunch without company or hosting and during non-COVID times we all gather at the local playground in the afternoon for kids to play, and grown-ups to talk and eat any snacks the kids have not already claimed. COVID has shifted things a bit for a moment, with socially distanced outdoor kiddushes and smaller gatherings in backyards on Shabbat afternoons. When looking at the community, we wondered what the dynamic was for those without children and we quickly learned that there was no divide, there was no separation. All are welcome. We felt that from the moment we moved in and we still feel it and believe it to this day.
By Rabbi Daniel Rosesnfelt