What is it like to live in Needham?

Eleven years ago, Rabbi Todd Markley, a Connecticut native, was looking for a congregation to lead. His wife was from Lexington, so when an opportunity arose at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, it was a natural fit, and Markley was thrilled to find a thriving and close-knit community when he arrived in town.

“We were interviewing at congregations all over the country,” Markley said. “There was a real sense that [Needham residents] were proud of their schools and civic organizations and people want to get involved in things bigger than their nuclear families.”


Markley is one of many leaders in the affluent Boston suburb. With a population of about 29,000, Needham sits in a prime location, sharing borders with Newton, Westwood, Boston, Dover, Dedham, and Wellesley, and offering easy access to Interstate 95 and the commuter rail. After a population boom in the 1950s, Needham is still thriving, thanks to an influx of new industries and that highly regarded school system.

“There has been a lot of building and renovation in town over the last decade,” Markley said. “It’s clearly a place where people want to be.” Markley added that he has seen Beth Shalom grow by nearly 300 families since he arrived in 2006.

As far as the best part of living in town, Markley comes back to how different groups will come together to support one another, like when Temple Beth Shalom held a dedication weekend celebrating its new building last year. “The Friday night Shabbat service had reps from the Board of Selectmen, Representative [Denise C.] Garlick, the lieutenant from the Police Department, and many of our clergy colleagues from the other congregations in town,” Markley said. “We asked them to prepare words of blessing for our community on behalf of their communities. It really does feel like we are in a continuous process of sharing blessings with each other. We are all about being contributing parts of a broader Needham community.”

Jon Mael is a freelance writer based in Sharon. He can be reached at

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