Kingston, PA: The Meteoric Growth of a “Small” Community

Just a couple of years ago, the name ‘Kingston, Pennsylvania’ was synonymous with “small community.” Today, the community is more closely associated with the opposite: Breathtaking expansion and astonishing growth. 

By reporter

Just a couple of years ago, the name ‘Kingston, Pennsylvania’ was synonymous with “small community.” Today, the community is more closely associated with the opposite: Breathtaking expansion and astonishing growth. 

While the community has seen continuous growth for over ten years, the real surge began approximately three years ago, as the world was coming back to itself after the COVID pandemic. One after another, families began choosing the growing community in the Northeast to call their home. And as the number of families grew, the communal infrastructure grew with them. 

In 2020, profiled the community, then seen as a fledging, heimish community, and a nice, quiet place to raise their children. “The close to seventy anash families living there are mostly young parents in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and their kids,” we wrote at the time. Less than three years later, the number of families has increased to well over 150. Counting the Lubavitch families in nearby Scranton and other areas, the wider community numbers over 200 families. 

The most recognizable sign of growth is the schools: In 2020, the entire school operated out of a single small campus, with a few trailers in the parking lot for some additional classrooms. Since then, the Cheder moved into a large rented public school building which housed the boys’ and girls’ schools and the preschool. After quickly outgrowing that as well, a second building was purchased at the start of this school year for the boys’ school to have their own campus. The growth can be largely credited to the efforts of dedicated administrator Rabbi Yossi Baumgarten.

Over 400 children attend the different divisions of Cheder Menachem. Some younger grades are even beginning to be divided into two classes due to their size. And those numbers are expected to rise, and fast. Mazal tov announcements for a new baby are posted every few days, and this week, Kingston will be marking a 12-week streak with a shalom zachar every Friday night. 

More children mean more staff. Over 30 new rebbis, teachers and staff were hired just this past summer. The girls’ school hired Mrs. Shaindy Reinetz as principal, with Mrs. Ceita Wilhelm continuing on as assistant principal, and the boys’ school added Rabbi Yehuda Green, a long-time teacher, as its assistant principal alongside principal Rabbi Yoel Chazan

A new preschool has also opened in the community, run by R’ Ofer Shaked, who established several All My Children preschools in Crown Heights before moving to Kingston. The chinuch options don’t stop at elementary: A girls’ high school enables girls to remain in Kingston through most of their teen years. And the Kingston Mesivta has grown in both in-town and out-of-town bochurim, making it a solid Lubavitch yeshiva of choice. 

The community’s growth hasn’t only been seen in the mosdos for the children. The adult infrastructure has seen a boom as well. After years with Beis Tzvi Yosef serving as the community’s only shul, the increased need saw two new shuls – Beis Moshe and Cheder Sheni – opening up over the past two and a half years. Between the various shuls, the cheder, and the mesivta, there are at least seven minyonim shacharis every day, and five minyonim for mincha and ma’ariv. On Shabbos, one can choose between one of two minyonim at Beis Moshe, the minyonim at Beis Tzvi Yosef or Cheder Sheni, or a newly established 8th grade minyan.

Another addition was a state-of-the-art men’s mikvah that opened just under a year ago. Established by the Hershkop family, as so much else in the community, the mikvah goes beyond just filling the basic need. The floors and walls are lined with marble, the mikvah features 10 showers and ample dressing space, two stunning boros, and even a shvitz.

“Yiddishe gashmius iz ruchnius,” the Alter Rebbe said, and that infrastructure has grown rapidly as well. The Bais Moshe shul, conveniently located in the center of the Anash community, is part of a large complex housing a shul, a full-size supermarket and deli. Food prices for Kosher food are comparable to New York prices, and produce is generally cheaper. Over the past summer, the food scene grew with the opening of ‘Bagel Bar’, a café and bagel shop that also serves pizza and bakery products. Other new establishments in town include a Cholov Yisroel ice cream and coffee shop, a Judaica store run by Rabbi Yudi Browd offering a large selection of seforim, kids’ books, and Judaica items, a glasses shop run by R’ Sender Perl, Kaleidoscope – a tzinus womens’ clothing story, and a number of other Jewish establishments.

There’s been an increase in programming for kids – there are well-run davening programs in the shuls, popular weekly avos ubanim, as well as mesibas shabbos for girls and boys. And the community now boasts its own library on the cheder campus. 

One new update to the community has fulfilled a longstanding aspiration of many locals: Harav Gedalia Oberlander moved from Monsey to serve as the community’s rov. And some projects are just getting off the ground, including the construction of a multi-million dollar mikvah taharah

Besides all of the new ventures, previous initiatives have also been upgraded and expanded. Chaverim of NEPA, founded and run by R’ Zalman Lison, now includes nearby Scranton and the Poconos. The chesed organizations have new features, too. “There are meal trains for pretty much everything by now,” Rabbi Yehuda Green says with a laugh. “There’s also fresh, hot breakfasts for mothers who just gave birth.” 

The community is lovely and inviting, but Rabbi Green suggests ‘doing your homework’ before moving down.

“Almost everyone who moves here has a friend or relative, which makes it easier on them,” Rabbi Green said. “If not, it can take more time to settle in. The community has grown so quickly that we don’t always know who is visiting and who is new in town. Because of this, newcomers might not always get full service.”

Transitions come along with challenges, and moving to a community is a big transition for a family. It can take a while to figure it out under the best of circumstances; Rabbi Green suggests getting in touch with the schools and reaching out to locals for help and information before making a move. Medical services in the area can also prove to be a challenge. 

“The school is very full, so families who move down without making arrangements beforehand might need to wait for space to open up for their children. It can take time to find new teachers and split classes.” 

When a kehilla grows, some of its charms, like the family-like feel, may be lost. While a community of 40 families can easily participate in every simcha, it’s not as simple with 150 families, and people tend to gravitate more to their own type. But the community embraces the positive developments that come along with growth. 

“There are so many wonderful Anash living here,” Rabbi Green said. “We have more friends, more shabbos guests, more options of shiurim – it’s exciting to be part of it!” 


Community size: 170+ Families

Mosdos and Amenities:

  • Chabad Shuls: Bais Moshe; Cheder Sheni; Bais Tzvi Yosef
  • Chabad School: Cheder Menachem – a 5-minute drive from the neighborhood, with busing offered for elementary-aged students. 
  • Yeshivos: Kingston Mesivta; Bais Shneur Zal.
  • Kosher Establishments: Kingston Kosher Grocery; Bagel Bar – cafe and pizza shop; Kave33 – ice cream and coffee shop; Around the Truck Kosher Catering; and various catering and food services.

Nearby Anash communities: Monsey – 2 hour drive. Crown Heights – 3 hour drive. Baltimore – 3 hour drive.

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