Jewish Community Growing in Dothan

By Carolyn Brewster

Published 05/16 2014 03:37PM

Updated 05/16 2014 07:46PM

It’s gained national attention—paying families up to $50,000 to move to Dothan, that if they practice Judaism and commit to living here for at least five years.

The Executive Director of the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services of Dothan, Rob Goldsmith, says after years of touting the program across the country, this out of the box idea is working.

“First we tried quarter color page ads in Jewish community newspapers around the country and then it was really picked up by the Associated Press and USA Today and magazines and newspapers all over the country. We basically had free advertising,” said Goldsmith.

That free advertising led to over a million and half hits on their website and many interested families.

“I read all the questionnaires and at some point the selection is made—the kind of families that we want to interview and start the process. It’s really worked well for us,” he said.

Ten families have uprooted their lives to move to Dothan and that number is growing quickly.

“We’ve moved people from Illinois, Georgia, Florida, New York, Virginia and California,” he said.

The most recent--a family of three coming from Los Angeles, California.

“When people ask me what the profile is for a successful family or the kind of families that we’re looking for—the Arensons are the poster children for our project,” said Goldsmith.

“We actually heard about the program from my brother in law. He sent us a text with a link to an article and we both looked at each other and said ‘what are we doing? Why aren’t we there?’” said Karen Arenson.

Goldsmith flew out to Los Angeles to interview the Arensons—after a successful trip, all that was left to do was to sell them on Dothan.

“We had never even heard of Dothan before,” said Terence and Karen.

In fact, they had never been to Alabama but once they were flown in, they knew it was right for them; so they traded in one LA for another LA--this time, lower Alabama.

“Welcome to the slow lane… but that’s one of the reasons we moved was a better lifestyle for our daughter,” said Karen.

“We just didn’t find a synagogue in Los Angeles, even though they’re all over the place, that we connected with. So when this opportunity came along that was part of the blessing that it was,” said Karen and Terence.

But they found more than a synagogue. They found their home.

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