Jewish Federation director enjoys Midwest communities

Ben Davis was hired as the executive director of the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley in January of 2014.
He is originally from Chicago, but has worked in several cities in the Midwest including Minneapolis, Minnesota and Cincinnati, Ohio.
He received a bachelor of science degree from Drexel University and a master of arts from the University of Minnesota.
The Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley is run by a team of staff and community volunteers who focus on preserving and helping the Jewish community.


What do think makes Michiana unique by comparison to other places?
One of the things that makes it unique is while in many ways a small city, it has a lot of culture. Between the Morris Performing Arts Center, the South Bend Museum of Art, Notre Dame and excellent hospitals, they have revitalized the downtown. It definitely has a very upbeat and progressive — not in a political sense — upswing feel to it rather than some of the towns on the east coast that feel like they are more on the decline. South Bend and the Michiana area feels very much like it is on the upswing. It feels like it has a bright future.

What is your favorite place to visit when you’re home?
I love the Morris theater of course. One of my favorite movie theaters is Wonderland Cinema in Niles. It is a great place to go and see a movie. I love going to the beach in St. Joe. That is just an amazing area.
There are great restaurants, not only in South Bend, but all over Michiana. My family lives in Granger and the Penn-Harris-Madison Schools are phenomenal. We really love them. I love Fernwood. It is an amazing place where you get to see the birds and everything there. There is just a lot to do and it is a great place to raise a family.

What is your favorite time of year in Michiana?
My favorite time of year is probably fall. Right know. I love it when it starts to get a bit cooler and the leaves start to change. It is really hard to say because one of the things I love about living here in the Midwest is that you get four very distinctive seasons.
I used to joke when I lived in Minneapolis that winter was the best seven months out of the year. There was a nice summer and a great winter, but the spring and fall practically did not exist. Here you get all four seasons and I love fall just because people start going back to school and when people are all in town.

If you were to meet someone planning a visit to the Michiana area for the first time, what places would you tell them not to miss, and why?
I would say Fernwood is a cannot-miss. I would say Notre Dame. I would say if you have a chance to see a show at the Morris theater that is a cannot-miss. I love just walking along the river downtown. If you come into town when there is one of the festivals that is always a great opportunity.
I would say of course not only Notre Dame, but if you get a chance to see a football game that is definitely a cannot-miss opportunity. There is no other experience like it. If you have a chance to go up north and see the lake, there is no place like St. Joseph. That is my favorite beach town.


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