BY RABBI PATRICK ALEPH / AJT //

Rabbi Patrick Aleph thinks a little "fear" might be a good thing in helping people connect with Judaism.

Rabbi Patrick Aleph

In my next series of articles I’ll be discussing why Jewish Atlanta is so amazing to me. I’ll start my “love letters” by expressing my delight for Atlanta’s least utilized Jewish gem: Toco Hill.

My fiance and I purchased our first home together. And where do an ex-punk turned rabbi and a yoga-teaching-healthcare-policy-analyst make their first home?

Maybe Little Five Points or East Atlanta? Nope. The answer’s obvious: Toco Hill.

I’m shocked that there aren’t more Jews in the Toco Hill / North Druid Hill area. You’re probably thinking, “But there are plenty of Jews in Toco Hill!” Yes, there are. If you need convincing, then just walk down LaVista Road on any Shabbat morning.

But there is a bizarre, unfair undercurrent of thinking that Toco Hill is “hands off” to non-Orthodox Jews. That’s far from the truth, and non-Orthodox Jews have plenty of reasons to move to this area.

First, cost of living.

Granted, you can’t buy a four-bedroom McMansion in Toco (and who wants that anyway?) However, we purchased a 2/2 condo for only $148,000, and that’s with a fantastic pool, tennis courts and clubhouse.

Our property taxes are low, and because we are surrounded by commercial development, prices on everything from groceries to gas are also lower.

Second, Toco is a great place to be Jewish.

Without going more than a few miles, I can have lunch at one of many kosher restaurants, shop for Judaica, attend a service or class at one of three synagogues, and probably bump into a lot of the same people over and over again.

I was slightly embarrassed when, in the course of a week, I had two people come up to me at Pita Palace and kosher Kroger saying, “you’re that rabbi I saw in the paper!” Toco Hill is like Cheers: Everyone knows your name.

Finally, Toco is a great place for everyone of every age and background. Being close to Emory and the CDC is fantastic for my age group. And as I get older, the more I appreciate the fact that there are lots of young families, and a strong senior citizen population here.

And this area is incredibly diverse! There are LGBT folks as well as growing immigrant and Muslim communities. Everyone in Toco has a place, which is more than I can say about Little Five.

So what are you waiting for?

About the writer

Rabbi Patrick Aleph was ordained by Rabbinical Seminary International and is the founder of Punk Torah (punktorah.org).