Shalom Yall – Guest Article

Shalom Y’all – Guest Article

August 21, 2008

Although I grew up in the South, I admit that I have never been to Dothan, Alabama. I imagine it is a very nice town and I know that it has a Jewish community with a vibrant population and many Jewish communal institutions. The question that the community leaders in Dothan are asking is: How do you get people move to Dothan and help sustain the community? In other words, what will it take for people to move to Dothan, especially when the trend among young people is to move to the big cities.

That is where Dothan seems to have taken a page out of the JOI play book. We believe that if we want people to enter the Jewish community and its institutions then we have to provide them with incentives for doing so. In the case of Dothan, the Jewish Community Service of Dothan is offering $50,000 no interest grants as part of its Family Relocation Project. In today’s economy, that is indeed an incentive.

Families shouldn’t expect automatic entitlement to the JCS funds just because they are moving to town — there is an intensive vetting process to make sure recipients are committed to helping strengthen and grow Dothan’s Jewish community. One of the qualifications is the family must remain in Dothan for at least five years. This is a bold plan, and we look forward to following its progress — and measuring its success.

Posted by Kerry Olitzky August 4, 2008 on the website and blog of the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI), reprinted with his permission.

The Jewish Outreach Institute honors Jewish values by promoting a more welcoming and inclusive North American Jewish community that embraces intermarried familes and unengaged Jews, and encourages their increased participation in Jewish life.

Dr. Kerry Olitzky is Executive Director of the JOI.

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