Matthew and Michelle Reed, along with their 2-year-old son and newborn baby boy, are the first of what could be a stream of people to move to Dothan under a program that offers Jewish families as much as $50,000 to relocate and get involved with the city’s only synagogue, Temple Emanu-El.
A family that’s been part of the reform congregation for decades funded the $1 million resettlement program and launched it last year, fearing the congregation would dwindle and die without an infusion of new blood.
With one new family already in the fold, and hundreds of others expressing interest, the goal is to bring as many as 19 more Jewish families to this mostly Christian town of 58,000 in rural southeast Alabama over the next five years.
What an interesting program. The town in which I grew, a city of 25,000 in an otherwise rural area, lost its only synagogue a decade ago because the declining Jewish population could no longer afford to support it. The sentiment of most people in town was that its closure made the city poorer in culture, and that the closure was a loss for the entire town.
I’m glad to hear that a city has come up with a program to preserve its cultural diversity. I think this will benefit everyone.