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Living the Jewish Life in Jacksonville, FL
by Ron Gerber
For decades, Florida has attracted countless numbers of Orthodox Jews from all over
the country and all over the world. They came not just for vacation, but to relocate
and settle, making Miami and, ultimately, all of South Florida one of the largest
Orthodox Jewish communities in the world today.
Certainly, South Florida is still a very attractive destination to many people, although
some may now find the cost of living to be quite high, especially for young families.
If you have your sights on moving to, or within, Florida, you may be surprised to learn
that you can still have great weather and low cost of living. In fact, you’re about to
discover a gem of a city that’s been laying low below the radar, where homes are still
affordable, the climate is excellent, and the quality of life is high. A city by the ocean
and a majestic river, where business is thriving, genteel Southern hospitality abounds,
and the low cost of living makes it one of the more affordable cities in Florida. The city
is Jacksonville.
Welcome to Jacksonville
Located on the Atlantic Coast, in the northeast
corner of Florida, and centered on the banks of the
majestic St. Johns River, Jacksonville features
continuous growth, endless opportunities, and a
superior quality of life. With a metropolitan
population of over one million, Jacksonville has a
population significantly younger than all other major
Florida cities, with a median age under 35.3 years
old. Jacksonville may be the largest city in the state
of Florida and the third most populated city on the
entire East Coast (after New York and Philadelphia),
but you would never notice driving around.
Everything is spread out. In fact, Jacksonville has a
total area of 874.3 miles, making it the largest city in
land area in the contiguous United States!

Downtown Jacksonville

Jacksonville boasts a first-rate public school system and a multitude of institutions of
higher learning. Jax is home to the Southeast’s largest modern & contemporary art
museum, as well as a major symphony orchestra, sports and entertainment complex
downtown, and a myriad of special events that this sports-loving city hosts each year.
Downtown Jacksonville has experienced more than $1.6 billion in redevelopment
projects, from cafes and boutiques to museums and galleries.
A Natural Beauty
Outdoor people and nature lovers rejoice!
Jacksonville offers something for everyone who
loves the outdoors. From endless miles of beaches
and translucent waters to peaceful landscapes and
gorgeous gardens to ancient oak forests and salt
marshes, the variety is astounding. With 68 miles
of Atlantic Ocean coastline and 300 miles of river,
Jacksonville offers truly significant natural beauty.
With almost 84,000 acres or 131 square miles of

White Sand Beaches & Pier

city, state and national parks, Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in
the United States. Jacksonville now ranks No. 1 among U.S. cities in gross acreage for
parks and is in the top 10 in the percentage of acreage in the city devoted to park
land. Not surprisingly, many parks around the city have received international
recognition, while the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens boasts the second largest animal
collection in the state.
As the longest river in the state of Florida, and the longest river in the United States
that flows northwards, the St. Johns River is home to numerous species of plants and
animals. It is not uncommon to see dolphins in the river east of Jacksonville and
manatees in the springtime when the water warms up. Alligators, bald eagles, ospreys,
stingrays, and many species of fish—both salt and fresh water—are found living in the
river and on its banks.
Unlike much of the rest of Florida, the First Coast's miles of beaches remain relatively
unspoiled. Jax’s beach communities offer some of the best sport fishing, boating and
water sport opportunities in the country. Strolling along the beach might produce a
collection of seashells, a view of porpoise and northern right whales playing off the
coast, or merely a relaxed state of mind.
Four Seasons Without Snow
To the point, Jacksonville offers year-round excellent weather, four seasons without
snow. The city's climate is subtropical. High temperatures average 64 to 91 °F (18-33 °C)
throughout the year. Winters can be marked by spells of cold weather, but outdoor
events and sports outings can be comfortably enjoyed year round. Additionally,
Jacksonville has suffered less damage from hurricanes than most other east coast
cities. The city has only received one direct hit from a hurricane since 1871.
Business and Economy
Jacksonville is an expanding business city. The largest city in the state, it is also the
largest deepwater port in the south, as well as the second-largest port on the U.S. East
coast. Millions of tons of raw materials and manufactured goods move through the city
annually. The area's economy is balanced among distribution, financial services,
biomedical technology, consumer goods, information services, manufacturing, and
other industries.
Due to its convenient location, mild climate,
reasonable cost of living, high quality of life, and a
business-friendly government, Jacksonville has
been a very popular location for corporate
expansions and relocations. According to
Forbes.com, Jacksonville, Florida ranked in the
top ten U.S. cities to relocate to find a job.
Jacksonville is consistently rated one of the
"Hottest Cities in America" for business expansions

Enjoy the Outdoors Year-Round

and relocations, and ranked 11th in Inc. magazine's list of "Best Cities for Doing
Business" for 2006.
Major commercial air service in Jacksonville operates out of Jacksonville International
Airport, including the popular JetBlue. Jacksonville is also a full-service international
seaport, with four modern seaport facilities and the new JAXPORT Cruise Terminal,
which opened in 2003 and provides cruises to Key West, the Bahamas, and Mexico.
The combination of three major interstate highways, the port terminals, three major
railways, and Jacksonville International Airport has made the area a major distribution
center and a city of growing international commerce. Companies from around the
globe have discovered that it is not only a superior place to live and play; it is a
superior place for business as well.
Jewish In Jacksonville
Jacksonville is a city of approximately 15,000 Jews. As stated earlier, Jacksonville boasts
the youngest population in the State of Florida. This is true with regards to its Jewish
population as well.
The primary Jewish section of Jax is the Mandarin
area. Mandarin is a neighborhood located in the
southernmost portion of Jacksonville. During the
last decade, the Mandarin area has undergone the
greatest growth of any community in Jacksonville.
Mandarin is also one of the oldest areas of
Jacksonville, having been settled before
Jacksonville was founded. The area is home to the
JCA (JCC), a reform Temple, and two conservative

The St. Johns River

Synagogues – one which hosts a Solomon Schechter Day School of approximately 150
There are two Orthodox synagogues, including Etz Chaim, which is a modern Orthodox
synagogue, and Chabad. Both shuls are close to each other. Parts of the Mandarin area
are encircled by an Eiruv. There is a new Orthodox Day School – Torah Academy –
which presently caters to about 30 children. The Synagogues have active youth groups
and offer an assortment of youth activities.
Once called “a tropical paradise” by resident author Harriett Beecher Stowe (author
of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), the quaint area of Mandarin, just a short drive from the city
center, is marked by ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss, beautiful parks,
marinas, and more water views than any other area in Jacksonville.
Within walking distance to both Chabad and Etz Chaim, you’ll find all types of housing
available, including stunning estate homes on the banks of the St. Johns River, modern
ranch homes, spacious colonials, condos, and rental complexes. The neighborhood is
woodsy, surrounded by lush flora, including the beautiful live oaks, which stay green all
year round.
The average price of a nice 3-4 bedroom ranch home in Mandarin is under $300,000.
Rental units range from $650 to $900 per month, depending on the number of bedrooms
and particular location.
Kosher in Jacksonville is on the rise. Recently a new restaurant was opened called
Rolling Munchies. The restaurant, which is under the Hashgacha of Rabbi Yoseph
Kahanov, senior Chabad Rabbi in Jax, offers a hearty variety of Mediterranean style
food. Both Publix and Winn Dixie supermarkets in Mandarin carry extensive lines of
kosher groceries, including: Rubashkin meats & poultry, wine and frozen foods. Cholov
Yisroel products are also available at Publix.
There is a BJ's Wholesale Club which carries Empire products and poultry, as well as
Kedem Grape Juice and many other kosher specialty products. Chabad additionally
offers a kosher coop. Food is ordered once a month and is delivered to all Chabad
The Shul of Jacksonville / Chabad
The Shul of Jacksonville/Chabad, led by Rabbi Yoseph Kahanov, is an important
institution in Jacksonville's blossoming Jewish community. In addition to being a vibrant
full-service congregation of approximately 50 member families, it serves as the
cornerstone and headquarters for Chabad’s Jewish outreach and enrichment activities
throughout the greater Jacksonville area. As such, The Shul fills a wide spectrum of
needs for Jews of all ages and backgrounds.
The traditional Shtiebel setting, warm and welcoming atmosphere and joyous ambiance,
all contribute to the oasis for which the Shul has become recognized. The frequent
Kiddushim, insightful discussions and inspirational melodies are additional qualities that
add to The Shul’s distinctive mystique and spirit.
The shul has recently undergone a complete renovation, providing a clean, spacious
environment with a touch of elegance. In addition to daily and Shabbos minyans,
Chabad offers a rich assortment of ongoing programs and activities. There are now
three Chabad satellite branches in Jax, including one in the Southside area, which also
hosts a very successful joint preschool called Ganeinu. There is also a Chabad branch
at the Jacksonville Beaches, in Ponte Vedra, as well as St. Augustine. For more
information, contact The Shul of Jacksonville at 904-262-6641.
If you’re a member of the Orthodox Jewish community and are looking for a new home
where the cost of living is lower and the quality of life is high, where the climate is
enjoyable year-round and people practice true Southern hospitality, you may want to
consider Jacksonville, Florida. There’s no doubt, Jacksonville has something for
everyone. Whether you prefer the excitement of a bustling downtown or the serenity
of rural areas, you'll find what you're looking for in Northeast Florida. That's why
Jacksonville has been the best kept secret in the Southeast.
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