The Kohelet Foundation has awarded Chabad of Penn Wynne and Congregation Beth Hamedrosh a $20,000 grant to develop promotional content for the heavily Jewish neighborhood, which will include a promotional film.
The film will be shown at Kosherfest in April in hopes of attracting more Orthodox Jewish families to move to the area, which includes Wynnewood, the Penn Wynne neighborhood and Philadelphia’s neighboring Overbrook Park section.
Rabbi Moshe Brennan from Chabad of Penn Wynne emphasized that the purpose of the grant is to promote the modern Orthodox community “that is looking for an out-of-town community to go to.”
Brennan briefed the Jewish Exponent on the significance of the grant, though its outline is still in the beginning stages.
Representatives from Kohelet Foundation and Beth Hamedrosh could not be reached for comment.
The current size of the community includes two Orthodox shuls (both of which are recipients of the grant), averaging about 60 families just at Chabad alone.
“The grant is simply to promote what exists in the community already, to promote the growth that we’ve already had to propel us a little further into the future,” he said.
Brennan said the community has a lot to offer: There are Jewish infrastructures, schools and kosher restaurants.
“[For] large Orthodox Jewish communities, real estate is, many times, an issue. It’s expensive,” he said. “So here we have options: If you want to live in the suburbs, you can live in Wynnewood. If you want to invest in a home but don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars or can’t afford a home that is hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can move to Overbrook Park, which has a strong growing contingency over there.”
He noted that Overbrook Park used to be “very Jewish,” but many moved away. But over the past few years, they’ve been moving back, “simply, for some of them, because of economics.”
“They have the access to everything they need, and they also get to buy their own home without having to break the bank,” he added.
In addition to those advantages of the living in the area, Brennan said the community is small but close-knit.
“We’re a cohesive unit, even between our separate shuls,” he said.
The grant consists of a marketing plan. A promotional video is a part of that plan, which will show the highlights of the community, as well as other publicity.
“We do believe that this is an ideal place,” he said. “There’s also lots of access to the city, to jobs, to places where people work. We’re centrally located. So there’s a lot going on over here that benefits many people.”
Brennan said they’ve essentially figured out that the bottom line to expanding their community is simply getting the word out.
“And that’s what this grant will do,” he continued. “It doesn’t create the situation. It doesn’t create the product. … In other words, you want this and we have it, but you don’t know about it. So this is us explaining to you that this is what you would like.”
The lack of knowledge about the community stems from its relatively small size.
“People know about the big places. They don’t really know about the emerging places, generally speaking,” he said.
Brennan predicts this grant will bring in roughly a dozen families of the “modern Orthodox crowd” of young families — Chabad of Penn Wynne had seven join last year.
“This grant is being used in a very focused manner to attract a very specific type of family, and we believe we’ll be able to do it,” he said.
Based on that prior success and growth of Chabad, Brennan expects more will come even though, he noted, that some people may not want to move to a location that is “emerging,” but rather someplace that’s already developed and big.
“We are unique in the sense that a lot of communities our size don’t have the infrastructure that we have,” he said, “because if you only have 100 religious families in a community, [for example], that makes it difficult to support a kosher infrastructure, schools. So communities of our size normally don’t have that much to offer because we’re not far from Lower Merion and we have access to everything that they have access to.
“[But] that kind of makes us unique in that we’re not this massive community and yet we offer all the services that any bigger community can offer.”
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