Inaugural Kallah

Inaugural Kallah

In 2017, Temple Emanu-El was awarded a three-year Kallah Project grant. We assembled a motivated committee of members to plan and execute the first Kallah retreat. There were bumps in the road – most notably the sudden death of Kallah Project director Rabbi Barb Moskow. Rabbi Barb was the organizational leader of the Kallah Project, but also was the inspiration to create a something beautiful in every community with which she worked. During her time with us, Rabbi Barb infected us with a vision of something special on the horizon, so we pressed forward with the planning. Temple Emanu-El is grateful to Jill Epstein and Rabbi Seymour Rossel, both Kallah Project board members, for stepping in to provide support and guidance in the months leading up to our Kallah.

Over 50 Temple members spent a beautiful weekend at Bagby State Park in Georgia. The weather could not have been more perfect for fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, riding bikes, or just relaxing. Temple lay-leaders led the community in Shabbat t’fillah, songs and skits. Student rabbi, Caroline Sim, led one of her always wonderful Torah discussions. And Rabbi Rossel brought his gifts of sermons and stories all weekend. We appreciate the men of the congregation for cooking up a wonderful meal on Saturday night. There were many other hands that worked on projects large and small to make the weekend a success – and we appreciate each and every one of you. Judging by the smiles all around, it was certainly a successful Kallah and we look forward to doing it again next year!


JCS Featured in Kibitz Podcast


Why did a Jewish philanthropist put up a million dollars of his own money to get Jews to move to Alabama?  And ten years into his experiment, does he consider it a success? And as synagogue membership declines across the US, how do we define a Jewish community? The Kibitz speaks with Larry Blumberg, the man behind the program offering $50,000 for families to relocate to Dothan, Alabama, as well as some of the families that have made the move. Plus director of the documentary There Are Jews Here, Brad Lichtenstein.

Listen here:


Interfaith event gathers congregants of different backgrounds



Oct 12, 2017


Rabbi Mark Winer says getting people of differing faiths to coexist and cooperate boils down to one simple concept – mutual respect.

“Once mutual respect is there, there’s nothing you cannot do,” he said.

Winer, who helped negotiate a treaty between Israel and the Vatican, successfully lobbied for the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel and aided in the re-establishment of Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of communism, will visit Dothan Oct. 20 for an interfaith event.

Winer said some of the same principles used in his previous endeavors have applications for communities like Dothan. Winer said that every community has conflicts among different religious, ethnic or interest groups – it’s how those conflicts are resolved that is important.

“It says in the Talmud that one who makes peace in his neighborhood is viewed as one who is making peace in the world,” he said. “Everyone should think of themselves as living in their own world and making peace.”

The event is sponsored by Temple Emanu-El, Evergreen Presbyterian Church, and the Muslim Community of the Wiregrass. The event will include a 7 p.m. Shabbat service on Oct. 20 at Temple Emanu-El, a Saturday morning message at the Muslim Community of the Wiregrass on Oct. 21, a Saturday evening fundraiser event, and a Sunday service at Evergreen on Oct. 22.

“We all know each other’s business in a small town,” she said. “It’s good to be able to relate to one another.”

Butler said Winer’s experience in working with small faith communities will also be of interest to members of minority faiths in the area.




Study finds Dothan among nation’s most affordable

Study finds Dothan among nation’s most affordable

A new study shows that the Dothan area is one of the most affordable places in the country to live.

The Council for Community and Economic Research, an Arlington, Virginia-based think tank, recently completed a study comparing cost of living among 253 metropolitan statistical areas. The study found that the Dothan MSA has the second lowest cost of living in Alabama and the 25th lowest in the U.S.

Matt Parker, president of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, said a low cost of living was helpful in attracting new residents and businesses.

“For a retiree moving from a higher cost area, it certainly frees up more of their disposable income for other activities,” he said. “For the business, it allows them to operate more cost effectively and enhance potential employees to relocate for new positions.”

The study examined costs for groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods and services.

The index for housing was at 68.3, 31.7 percent lower than the national average. Groceries were at 99.9, transportation was at 86.7, health care was at 89, and the miscellaneous goods and services category was at 90.6. The one category where Dothan had a higher than average index was utilities, which stood at 101.5. Dothan’s index for utilities was lower than anywhere else in the state, however.

Original article:

Helping Irma Evacuees

Helping Irma Evacuees

With category 5 Hurricane Irma bearing down on the Florida coast, hundreds of thousands of Floridians packed up their vehicles and headed north. Dothan found itself with every hotel room in the city full, as well as thousands of people at campgrounds and in shelters. The evacuees left their homes in great haste and with few personal belongings. As the storm got closer, food deliveries to the city were delayed and restaurants began to shut down. With lots of people to feed, some hotels turned to the community to help provide some good old southern hospitality.

The Temple Emanu-El family worked all of Sunday morning to prepare hot meals for 400+ people at three local hotels. It was a labor of love, and we were blessed to provide some comfort and relief to the reluctant guests in our town. Temple Emanu-El hopes everyone has made it home safely!