FAQ: Jewish Tidewater 101

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 1:31pm

Posted in: Shalom Tidewater

1605 Relocating to a new state or city can be a daunting task; and whether you’re moving alone or with your entire family, the preliminary work of researching your new town can prove overwhelming. Shalom Tidewater offers numerous free services to help alleviate some of the stress of starting over in a new place.

Over the past three years, we have worked with dozens of new community members and we have complied a list of some of the more frequently asked questions about the Tidewater/Hampton Roads area and living Jewishly.

We love our community! From the oceanfront to the Peninsula, the Tidewater Jewish community is thriving. We are standing by ready to welcome new residents as well as to help those current residents who are looking for ways to become more involved in the community.

Without further ado, the first round of FAQ: Jewish Tidewater 101!


1. Why is this area referred to as “Tidewater”?

1628 “Tidewater” is a general moniker applied to the major metropolitan area directly adjacent to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, and includes numerous cities, counties, towns, and the like.

Virginia is divided into 5 geographical regions: Tidewater/Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Valley and Ridge, and the Appalachian Plateau.  The term “Tidewater” refers to the eastern portion of the state that is directly affected by the tides. This area includes Hampton Roads, the Peninsula and the Eastern Shore.


2. So, what is the difference between Tidewater and Hampton Roads?

1625 Whereas Tidewater refers to entire region as described above, Hampton Roads more specifically refers to the seven cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. Locals use the two terms interchangeably when referring to our area.

Hampton Roads can be further divided into the sub-categories of South Hampton Roads and the Peninsula. South Hampton Roads includes the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. The Peninsula includes the cities of Hampton and Newport News; sometimes reaching as far as Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg.

3. Is there a Jewish community in Tidewater?

Yes! Tidewater is home to a mid-sized Jewish community and residents are spread out across the multiple cities. There are actually two Jewish community hubs here in Tidewater: one focuses on the cities of South Hampton Roads and the other focuses of the residents living on the Virginia Peninsula. There are numerous opportunities to live a Jewish lifestyle and to be involved in Jewish community here in Tidewater including more than 8 Jewish service agencies, 14 different synagogues, Jewish day schools and adult education, Kosher businesses, and more.

Check out our online map to see the Tidewater Jewish community at-a-glance. No matter where you choose to live, the Tidewater Jewish community is here for you!

4. Are there any synagogues in Tidewater?

Yes – no matter your level of observation. Tidewater is home to 14 different synagogues, ranging from Orthodox to Chavurahs. We understand that finding the ideal temple family is important and so we take this task very seriously. We are standing by to assist you in your search for a new congregation. Check out the listing of local synagogues and Chavurahs, and let us know if we can help by connecting you to the temple office.

5. Can I keep kosher in Tidewater?

Keeping kosher in Tidewater is definitely possible. Thanks to the hard work of our local Vaad Hakashrus, Tidewater is home to an ever-growing list of kosher eateries, bakeries, cupcakeries, caterers and grocery stores. We even have a kosher pizza place and a kosher donut shop! Check out the full listing of local kosher establishments.

6. Is there a kosher butcher in Tidewater?

No, but Kosher meats and seafood can often be purchased from BJ’s Wholesale Club, Farm Fresh Market Place in Ghent, and Welton’s Seafood Market. Freshly butchered kosher meat and seafood can also be ordered through a community partnership with Shlomo’s Kosher Meat & Fish Marketing based in Baltimore, MD. Shlomo’s makes monthly deliveries to our community to keep our residents fully stocked with kosher meats. Join the Shlomo’s Tidewater list for regular reminders and pricing updates. More details.

7. How can I get involved in the Tidewater Jewish community?

There are a lot of opportunities in Tidewater ranging from interfaith, social, political, religious, sports, education, arts and culture, and more. Our best advice is to start by connecting with the Community Concierge. Let her know what your interests are and she will help identify the local organizations and groups that fit your needs. Or you can take a look at the Tidewater Jewish community directory and connect with local agencies and groups at your own pace and on your own terms.

8. Are there any networking opportunities in the Tidewater Jewish community?

Yes! There are many networking groups ranging from professional and social, organized by the local Jewish agencies as well as the community synagogues. These groups include a Business and Legal Society, Maimonides Society, mother’s circles, book clubs, young adult meet-ups, Torah study groups, military veterans, supporting Israel, and so much more.

9. Does Tidewater have Jewish music/theater or Jewish cultural programs and events?

There are a number of cultural programs and events throughout the year including the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, the JCC’s Jewish Book Festival, multiple performing arts and children’s cultural events supported by partnerships with local arts organizations, scholar in residence events, and so much more. The Tidewater also is home to Shir Darom, “Song of the South”, the Jewish community chorus. There are also a lot of Israel-based events hosted throughout Tidewater through the hard work of the Community Relations Council as well as the JCC’s annual community Israel Fest which allows residents to experience Israel without leaving Hampton Roads. The festival includes authentic Israeli food, dancing, and music as well as shuk of local crafters and vendors. Between the agencies and the synagogues, there is never a shortage of exciting and relevant programs to attend.

10. My significant other is not Jewish – are the interfaith-friendly opportunities in the Tidewater Jewish community?

We are proud of our diverse community. From the synagogues to the day schools to the JCC, the Tidewater Jewish community welcomes all families and individuals who seek to find their place. Contact the Community Concierge directly with specific inquiries.

11. Are there involvement opportunities for children and teenagers in the Tidewater Jewish community?

There is never a shortage of activities for your kids to participate in. There are a number of youth groups including BBYO, NFTY, and USY as well as summer camps, middle school programming, leadership training, and so much more. Tidewater sends a delegation to the Maccabi Games and ArtsFest every year. Students attending Old Dominion University can join ODU Hillel. There are even employment opportunities for your teens at the Simon Family JCC such as being a life guard or a camp counselor. Check out this listing of youth involvement opportunities.

12. Is there a Jewish Community Center in Tidewater?

The Simon Family Jewish Community Center is located in the heart of Tidewater, on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The JCC is literally the “center” of the community and offers services for the entire family including the fitness and aquatics center, babysitting, youth and adult sport leagues, summer camp, Jewish education, Senior social groups, before and after school care, cultural and performing arts events, and so much more. Join the JCC is an excellent way to connect with your Jewish community. Check out the JCC today!

13. Are there Jewish camps in Tidewater?

There are two wonderful Jewish camps in Tidewater: CampJCC and Camp Gan Izzy. Both camps offer a safe, enriching environment for your children to experience their Jewish heritage in a fun and exciting way. Check out more about these camps.

14. Can I learn Hebrew in Tidewater?

Ken! Yes! There are numerous opportunities to learn Hebrew locally, from organized classes to finding a one-on-one tutor. It’s never too late to learn. Contact the Community Concierge to get started.

SOUND OFF: Did we nail the answers? Did we miss a piece of crucial information? Do you have suggested questions (with or without answers) for us to consider in a second round of FAQ? Let us know in the comments below or send us a message.

Are you new to the area or do you know someone who is? Share ShalomTidewater.org with your friends, family, and neighbors so that they may begin to explore and discover their new Jewish community.

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