A Jewish group in Alabama is offering as much as $50,000 to Jewish families willing to relocate to its town.
Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services is offering the incentive to help repopulate the Jewish community of Dothan, a largely Christian town of 58,000. Participating families that stay in Dothan for five years and become active in the local synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, do not have to repay the grant.
Southern states have a seen a growth in Jewish population, according to the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. Some 386,000 Jews live in the region.
Population trends, however, show young people leaving small towns and moving to large cities such as Atlanta.
The Blumberg program, which was launched in June, has advertised in Jewish newspapers throughout the the Northeast and in Miami, and has plans to further publicize, The Associated Press reported.
Jewish residents of New Orleans were offered similar incentives to return home after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Another congregation near Boston offers loans and other perks to Jewish families moving into the area.
“I think it’s important that we try to find young people that we could use in our religious school, our Sunday school,” Larry Blumberg, chairman of the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services, told the AP.
Blumberg said he was interested in the new families to “help in the way of trying to create more of a family-type atmosphere in our temple.”