New Families Find Ways to Connect

The Fleisch Family

After 18 months of living in the Lehigh Valley, Eric Fleisch, his wife Rebecca, and their three sons feel more welcome here than they did in over a decade living in Boston. When they first arrived in Allentown, Congregation Sons of Israel set up a meal train where friendly congregants delivered food and companionship. As a family, they have also been involved with the JCC’s pre-school and camp as well as community and Federation-sponsored events. Overall, “the institution that has had the greatest impact on our life and experience here,” has been the Jewish Day School, said Eric. “I can’t say enough good things about it!” With supportive teachers and staff and welcoming students, the day school has built a community that the Fleisch family is thrilled to be a part of. As for the future, “we are so appreciative, and look forward to many years of doing our part to add to the community and welcome others.”

The Levin Family

Shortly after Howie and Rachel Levin moved to Nazareth, they took advantage of a unique opportunity offered by the Federation to travel to Israel with their peers. Upon returning, they participated in a year-long leadership development program that kick-started further involvement. They joined a synagogue in Easton, and Howie, a child psychiatrist, joined the Federation’s Maimonides Society for healthcare professionals. Their young daughter enjoys PJ Library events and JCC programs. “We feel more connected to the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley than we did in New York,” Rachel said.

The Sandler Family

Sarah and Dick Sandler moved to Bethlehem a few months shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. After living in Florida for 30 years, where their synagogue attendance and volunteering was their “focus of life,” they were looking for a strong Jewish community in their new home. They joined Congregation Brith Sholom, where they met people who “helped us immeasurably to feel connected.” Sarah has become involved with Hadassah and cooking Friday night dinners, and Dick, who served in the Navy Air Force in the Korean War, particularly likes the convenience that “nothing is more than 10 minutes away.”

The Relles Family

Dina and Dan Relles moved to Zionsville in the summer of 2016 with their four children, Aiven, Parker, Gray and Laney. Dan’s job as a pediatric surgeon at the Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital officially prompted the move, but they were “thrilled to settle in the area – one hour north of Dan’s family in Upper Dublin, two hours away from my family in New York, and in a beautiful, vibrant community all our own,” Dina said. The family joined Temple Beth El, enrolled their oldest children in its religious school and “felt more welcomed by the community there than we could imagine.” At events for young Jewish families, they were able to connect with “so many wonderful people who quickly became dear friends.” They are also deeply invested in Camp Ramah in the Poconos, where they originally met – Dina still returns there as staff during the summers.


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