Shanah Tovah – 5771

Shanah Tovah – 5771

September 10, 2010

Rosh Hashanah morning worship services were very well attended at Dothan’s synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, on September 9, 2010.

After services and the blowing of the shofar, the congregation gathered for a fabulous luncheon in our fellowship hall.

Overall, it was a warm and wonderful day of worship and friendship, among extended family.

Our congregation wishes all visitors to this website a happy, healthy and sweet New Year.

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Selichot 2010

Selichot 2010

September 7, 2010

Selichot is respected as an important component of our congregation’s annual liturgical calendar.

On Saturday, September 4th, twenty congregants participated in a very creative Selichot evening consisting of:

> a potluck dinner in the Temple Social Hall

> viewing the amazing documentary video “Six million Paperclips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial, Whitwell Middle School, Whitwell, Tennessee”

> a discussion of the video

> and then the Selichot Service in our Sanctuary

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Congratulations Jeff Vance

Congratulations Jeff Vance

August 23, 2010

On Friday night, August 20th, the Temple Emanu-El congregation recognized Jeff Vance upon his graduation from the US Army’s Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot School, Fort Rucker.

Rabbi Goldsmith made a very special presentation, then, after services we enjoyed a wonderful Oneg provided by Jeff’s mom, Cookie Benson.

Congratulations Jeff and thank you for your service to our country.

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Dothan’s Mayor Schmitz Speaks About Children & Play

Dothan’s Mayor Schmitz Speaks About Children & Play

August 20, 2010

Why Play Matters for Children Now More than Ever

By Mayor Mike Schmitz 19 Aug 2010

On August 18th, Dothan celebrated being named Playful City USA for the 4th straight year by KaBOOM!, the national play advocate organization.

The Greek philosopher Plato once said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Without question, this is especially true for our children. Yet, according to a KaBOOM! Playground Poll conducted by Harris Interactive, 82% of parents believe children don’t spend enough time playing outside and the National Survey of Children’s Health reports that more than 1/3 of all U.S. children are overweight or obese.

I have no doubts those two statistics are directly related. Children without a great place to play are at a substantially higher risk of being unhealthy. For a variety of reasons, most adults have forgotten how important play is for children. Additional studies continue to prove that children who receive prescribed amounts of time for play are prone to be healthier and perform better in school.

I’m proud to say that Dothan is doing something to address this play deficit. In fact, national non-profit KaBOOM! recently recognized Dothan as one of 118 Playful City USA communities in 2010 for the fourth straight year. This program honors cities and towns determined to prioritize play and ensure that children are healthy by providing the time and space for play.

In Dothan, we take play seriously. Our leadership has taken steps to make sure that our children have access to great places to play. The City of Dothan has created a “Play Commission” and developed an action plan for play. The goal is to have a “great place to play” within walking distance of every child in Dothan. To augment our efforts we have funded training for 3 Leisure Services staff members qualifying them as Certified Playground Safety Inspectors. Every year we increase our play assets to get closer to our goal. With every new playground there is a Community Build sharing the experience of providing these playgrounds with our citizens, and reducing overall costs.

Through the Playful City USA program, other communities across the country look to Dothan as a role model. These cities and towns will examine our best practices and look to replicate them in their communities. I take a tremendous amount of pride in knowing that what we’re doing here in Dothan will improve the lives of not only our children, but children elsewhere as well.

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JCS Coast to Coast – Canada

JCS Coast to Coast – Canada

July 19, 2010

On Saturday July 17th, The National Post of Canada published a fabulous newspaper/website story about our organization, the family relocation project, and our fair city.

We are very pleased and proud that our initiative continues to be an international phenomena.

Journalist Joe O’Connor did a fantastic job on the story, explaining Dothan’s innovative approach and reflecting on Jewish life in the South in general.

Please click below to access the story !

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Family Relocation Project on TV News

Family Relocation Project on TV News

July 7, 2010

Please click the link below to access an excellent news story broadcast last night on Dothan’s local CBS affiliate.

Know that WTVY’s evening news program is, consistently, number one in our market. Interestingly, WTVY’s 2,000 foot transmission tower is the tallest structure in the State of Florida, reaching 20 counties in three states, with a population over 500,000.

Our congregation and the BFJCS continue to enjoy the positive attention (and pride) of Dothan’s greater community !

> when you click on the web address above, you will see the written story

> then click on the small icon/box of a video camera that appears just below the name and email address of the WTVY journalist named Josh, when you click on that icon, the video story will play for you.

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Summer Camp is Fantastic!

Summer Camp is Fantastic!

July 7, 2010

(Your BFJCS website writer/editor Rob Goldsmith spent three days at Camp Henry S. Jacobs over the 4th of July, 2010 weekend, visiting his wife Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith as she was serving on the Camp faculty. Rob was also visiting four campers from Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El Congregation. It’s a fantastic facility and a very special place where 240 campers can play, pray, grow, and enjoy.)

Henry S. Jacobs Camp is the Reform Jewish Movement’s summer camp serving the Deep South: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Western Tennessee and the Florida Panhandle.

Since 1970, Jacobs Camp has been providing a caring Jewish community that builds young people. The camp program has a profound impact on our campers. The opportunity to live as part of a close-knit community and develop new skills, assisted by a dynamic and enthusiastic staff, coupled with Jewish values and the development of one’s Jewish identity result in the experience of a lifetime !

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BFJCS on the BBC – 40 million Listeners

BFJCS on the BBC – 40 million Listeners

July 7, 2010

On July 4th, our Family Relocation Project was featured on the BBC Radio show named “Americana.”

Anchored by Matt Frei, Americana is a 30 minute weekly radio show presenting quick stories about important and interesting things happening in the USA – news, culture and politics.

Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom, on America’s National Public Radio, as well as the BBC World Service throughout the world, the show’s aggregate audience is over 40 million people. Recent guests include Brian Williams, Newt Gingrich, George Will, and Joe Scarborough.

To access the particular story about Dothan’s Jewish community and our family relocation project:

1. click on this link:

2. you will be taken to the BBC’s homepage of their Americana radio show

3. on the left side of that BBC Americana homepage, just below the photo of host Matt Frei, you see in black letters, the words “Available now on BBC iplayer, 04/07/2010” and you will see a horizontal box entitled “Listen Now”

4. click on the listen now box

5. a smaller window will now open for you, and the audio file of the show will automatically load for you, be patient as this relatively large file can take several minutes to automatically load

6. you have two options at this point, you can sit back and listen to the entire 30 minute show or you can access just Dothan’s story

7. to listen to only Dothan’s story, note in the lower left area of this new window there are two buttons, the far left button consists of two small vertical/parallel lines

8. after the audio file loads and you begin to hear the show over your computer’s speaker, you will note that directly below the far lower left button with the two small vertical/parallel lines, there appears a pink horizontal line

9. if you place your cursor at the front of that pink horizontal line, click and drag that pink horizontal line to the right

10. as you click and drag the far right end of the pink horizontal line to the right, you will note that the clock directly above the pink line will increase because you are moving deeper inot the 30 minute audio file

11. click and drag the pink time line to the clock time of “21 minutes and 10 seconds = 21.10”

12. Dothan’s story in the audio file lasts from 21.10 (i.e. 21 minutes and 10 seconds into the show’s 30 minute timeframe) to 28.00 (i.e. 28 minutes into the show’s 30 minute timeframe)

Enjoy !

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Dothan Named a Top Destination to Retire

Dothan Named a Top Destination to Retire

June 29, 2010

The June, 2010 edition of Kiplinger Magazine features “five great cities for retirees.”

The article states that these five great cities “strike a balance between a high quality of life and a low cost of living.”

We are very pleased and excited to see that Kiplinger’s editors selected:

> Dothan, Alabama
> Charlottesville, Virginia
> Palm Bay, Florida
> Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
> and Sna Francisco, California

Congratulations to our fair city of Dothan !

Please click here to access the Kiplinger article:

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BFJCS & Our Temple Featured in The Atlantic Monthly Magazine

BFJCS & Our Temple Featured in The Atlantic Monthly Magazine

June 25, 2010

We are very pleased and excited to share with you the article below in which our organization and congregation are featured in The Atlantic Monthly (circulation of over 400,000).

Religion July/August 2010 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE

A Promising Land
Small towns in the South are looking for a few good Jewish families.

By Ben Austen

Of the 140 houses of worship in Dothan, Alabama—a city of 68,000 residents and the self-proclaimed “Peanut Capital of the World”—just one is a synagogue. Members of that 80-year-old synagogue, the only one in 15 counties, are now offering as much as $50,000 to Jewish families willing to move to Dothan and join their religious ranks. Three couples have already taken the money and relocated. Many others are interested but remain wary about Alabama and the Deep South. “I tell them there’s running water, that we wear shoes, have a Starbucks. There have never been any swastikas on the temple door,” Rob Goldsmith, the director of the resettlement program and the husband of Temple Emanu-El’s new rabbi, told me. “George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door was 50 years ago. Get over it.”

Today, some 1.1 million Jews live in the South, including 655,000 in Florida—more than at any other time in the nation’s history. Atlanta’s Jewish population has increased fourfold since 1980. But small-town congregations, unlike those in large southern cities, have seen their numbers dwindle, as older generations have died off or joined children who left for college and never returned.

According to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, an organization based in Jackson, Mississippi, that assists synagogues across the South, at least 29 southern synagogues have shut their doors in the past two decades. Forty years ago in Dothan, 110 families were affiliated with Temple Emanu-El; at the start of this century that number had fallen to 43.

Larry Blumberg, a Temple Emanu-El member who develops and runs hotels in several southern states, is bankrolling the effort to halt this erosion, with hopes of luring 20 families over five years. Blumberg’s grandfather arrived in Dothan in the 1890s, having journeyed from Lithuania via Ellis Island. He first traveled from farm to farm with a pack on his back, selling clothes and housewares, and eventually opened a shop on Dothan’s Main Street that grew into a two-story department store with an escalator. At mid-century, Jews owned many of the retail businesses in downtown Dothan and in other southern towns. But the arrival of shopping malls, better highways, and big-box stores rendered the small-town retailer obsolete.

A few other southern congregations have attempted their own versions of Dothan’s “Jewish stimulus package,” as Goldsmith calls it. New Orleans offered a $15,000 loan to lure Jews back after Hurricane Katrina. The mission of Grow Jewish Tulsa is both to retain and to increase its Jewish numbers; the group offers a variety of services, including contacts at the city’s 35 or so Jewish-owned businesses. And Meridian, Mississippi, has begun a program modeled directly on Dothan’s—the city, which once had a population of 577 Jews, and even a Jewish mayor, is down to about 30, among them only two families with children. When I asked Marc Fisher, who runs the relocation effort there, how he’d characterize his synagogue’s congregation, he said, “Elderly. But also looking for growth.”

One advantage Dothan has over a city like Meridian—where a synagogue was bombed in 1968—is that it has no history of overt anti-Semitism. Larry Blumberg remembers a time during his childhood, in the 1960s, when all public schools were closed for the Jewish High Holidays, and a local Jewish businessman was president of Dothan’s tony country club. Dothan has other selling points as well. It’s home to many of the region’s hospitals, hotels, and banks, and nearby farms produce about half the country’s peanuts. People there are also quick to mention that the beaches of Panama City, Florida, are a mere 81 miles away.

Since launching two years ago, Dothan’s relocation project has received 600,000 hits on its Web site. Some people write in that they’re not Jewish but for $50,000 will convert; Orthodox Jews usually cease contact upon learning of the reform synagogue’s female rabbi; one Jewish family said it was living out of a station wagon, can you help? But as a longtime Jewish resident of Dothan told me about the venture, “We don’t take ’em to raise, as we say in the South. Fifty thousand dollars doesn’t go very far.”

The Jews of Dothan make it clear to prospective residents that the city has a predominantly Christian culture. If families decide to relocate, they will likely be the only Jews on their block, and their children will be the only Jews in their classes. Politically, too, the leanings of Dothan Jews mostly reflect those of the larger culture.

Stephanie Butler, who moved to Dothan through the relocation program, said, “Conservative family values are our values, even if people think of them generally as Christian values.” Like others who have accepted the incentive dollars or are close to doing so, she and her husband were looking for a slower pace of life, and a safer place to raise their children.

Any slights that occur, I was told, result not from malice but from a lack of awareness. Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith described a visitor to Temple Emanu-El who asked where the sacrifices were held. She said her neighbors, black and white, are eager to learn about Judaism, even if that interest stems largely from a desire to better know the “true” Jesus through his Jewish roots.

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