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Program Offers Big Bucks to Bring Jews to Dothan

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

A program aimed at bringing more Jewish families to the wiregrass is struggling thanks to the economy.

But area Jewish leaders say the community itself is thriving.

The Jewish Community Services of Dothan implemented the program back in 2007.

Since then, just two Jewish families have accepted the offer.

But organizers say they have more on the way and the Jewish community in Dothan is seeing new life.

“Our reinvigoration is happening; we went from that 41 family difficulty in 2006, now we're up to 55-56 families,”

Robert Goldsmith is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Services of Dothan.

His organization offers Jewish families up to 50-thousand dollars to make the circle city their home.

“It was important that we take a big step, something that catches people's attention certainly the offer of up to $50,000 for relocation assistance catches people's eye,” said Goldsmith.

Goldsmith says when the program began, things were much different.

“In the previous economy where people were sure let's try it, people are being very thoughtful now,”

Now things are slowed down for the project obviously reflective of the difficulties in the economy.

Organizers with the relocation project say the biggest setback to bringing Jewish families to the area isn't the lack of jobs in the wiregrass; it's the fact that the families can't sell their own homes to make the move

“It’s an investment, we're not giving people money we're giving them financial assistance,”

Doctor Barbara Minsky is the president of Dothan’s only synagogue.

She says despite the slowed progress of the project in addition to the sluggish economy, the congregation itself is doing just fine.

“We’re in fairly good financial shape for any kind of small religious community,” said Dr. Minsky.

Goldsmith says the program's main objective is the betterment of the wiregrass as a whole.

“This is just not about bringing more Jews here, it's about bringing the best and brightest and new families to reinvigorate the greater Dothan community as well as our congregation,” said Goldsmith.

Goldsmith says that right now, they have about 10 more families in different stages in the process of moving to Dothan.

He says four or five are ready to make the move, it's just a matter of selling their homes and finding a job.

Jewish Family Service's goal is to relocate at least 20 families to Dothan by December, 2012.

For more information on the project, visit their website at www.bfjcs.org.


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