Baltimore: A Big City Community With Small-Town Appeal

Our Communities: A warm, chassidishe atmosphere, an abundance of frum resources and a booming job market are some of the things that make Baltimore, MD a wonderful place to call home.

By Anash.org writer

When the Frierdiker Rebbe visited the United States in 1929, he spent three weeks in Baltimore during which he famously recited a maamar in a Lubavitch “Tzemach Tzedek” shul. At the time, it was just a small Jewish community near the city center; later, frum families migrated north-westward, to the suburbs.

“Baltimore has a rich Lubavitch history dating back to 1889,” head shliach Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, who established Chabad of Maryland in 1974, told Anash.org. “Since the establishment of the yeshiva twelve years ago, and the cheder soon after, the anash community really began to grow and blossom.”

Today, Baltimore boasts a large, thriving frum community, including one of the fastest growing anash communities in the United States. The largest concentration of anash families is found in Park Heights, which is also the hub of the wider frum community.

Because of the size of the local frum community, anash enjoy access to an enviable list of resources and conveniences. One of the more unusual amenities: the local JCC has separate swimming and gym hours for men and women.

“There are multiple minyanim throughout the day in more than forty shuls, two huge Kosher supermarkets, various chesed organizations, and even several options for Chabad-standard mikvaos,” said shliach Rabbi Zalman Spitezki, who directs Chabad on Call of Baltimore and teaches in the cheder. “There is also every type of gemach – and Kosher dining establishment – that you can think of.”

Recently, small groups of anash families have begun moving to live near Chabad houses in surrounding neighborhoods. One such area is Greenspring, home to Rabbi Kaplan and The Lubavitch Center of Maryland. Anash families settling in these areas join the local shuls for minyanim, but drive the short distance to Park Heights for their children’s schooling and to partake of the many shiurim, farbrengens and family activities in the larger anash community.

Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon, mara d’asra of Bais Lubavitch and founder of Cheder Chabad, laid a solid foundation prioritizing ruchniusdik development and a spirit of ahavas achim. Today, many are drawn to the community because of its pleasant and chassidishe atmosphere.

“The community here is very warm,” Rabbi Avrohom Wolowik, the executive director of Cheder Chabad of Baltimore, told Anash.org. “People really take care of each other. It’s also a stable environment, with shiurim and wholesome activities for all ages. Our anash families have chassidishe values and priorities, and the children in cheder absorb this eidelkeit.”

Rabbi Spitezki wholeheartedly agrees with this sentiment. “It’s pretty unique, what we have here. We’re a large community – around 200 families to date, bli ayin hara – and yet that small, warm, heimish feel hasn’t been lost.”

Another attractive factor is the ripe and varied job market for frum people living in Baltimore. With Washington D.C. close by, many government agencies are conveniently located, and there are several anash who own small businesses and hire other anash whenever possible. The growing cheder is always on the lookout for fresh talent, and there are talks about developing the chinuch infrastructure to accommodate the growing need for higher education among the anash community.

With wide, tree-lined streets and spacious homes, and plenty of unregulated parking, Baltimore has the small-town feel of suburbia, yet at the same time offers amenities and opportunities typical of big cities. Yehuda Blasenstein, a Chabad realtor who has helped many anash navigate the local housing scene, says this has led to a thriving market amid the current pandemic.

“The Baltimore real estate market is still very active,” Blasenstein said. “Homes remain affordable, and interest rates are lower than ever. And compared to other large cities, you get far more ‘bang for your buck.'”

The demographics of the community are mixed, with a large number of both mature and young families. Though older families continue to move in, the growth is mainly happening among the younger crowd. “In the last two years, there were babies born in over 80 cheder families, bli ayin hara,” Rabbi Wolowik shared.

Community size: 200 Families

Mosdos and Amenities:

  • Main Chabad Shuls: Bais Lubavitch; Young Anash; The Shul at the Lubavitch Center
  • Chabad School: Cheder Chabad of Baltimore; talks regarding opening a Lubavitch high school and mesivta underway
  • Yeshiva: Yeshivas Lubavitch (Zal)
  • Mikvaos: Chabad mikvaos in the area
  • Kosher Establishments: Seven Mile Market, Market Maven, and many restaurants
  • Rabbonim: Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, head shliach of Maryland and rav of The Shul at the Lubavitch Center; Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon, rav of Bais Lubavitch; Rabbi Nochum Levin, rav of Young Anash; Rabbi Shmuel Gurary, rav of C.I.C. Baltimore; and Rabbi Avrohom Wolowik, rav of Chabad in Greengate

Cost of Living:

  • Housing market: 
    • Smaller homes in Park Heights can be purchased starting at around 140k. A home with 4-5 bedrooms can range from 280k – 350k. In other areas where anash families live, the range is 350k-500k
    • Apartment and house rentals range from $1,200-$2,000 a month
  • Parnassah: Many families bring along their own small businesses; other opportunities include working for anash-owned businesses, government agencies, and cheder.
  • Cheder tuition: $7,000 – $13,000; vouchers and various tuition grants available to most families.

Nearby Anash communities: Crown Heights – 3.5 hour drive; Phillidaphia, PA – 2 hours; Kingston, PA – 3 hours.

Want to further explore this community? Reach out to Rabbi Spitezki at (646) 626-1343 or mailzalman@gmail.com.

For expert help navigating the Baltimore housing market, contact Yehuda Blasenstein, a trusted Chabad realtor, at 410-583-9400 or by cell 718-207-9541 – or click here.

Photo credit: Jeff Cohn Photography; members of Baltimore anash community.

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