Jewish Community Thriving in Dothan

Jewish Community Thriving in Dothan

Judaism has been on the decline in the south but in Dothan, the religion is growing.
With Rosh Hashanah festivities tonight, the Temple Emanu-El in Dothan is busy preparing for the celebration.

"It's introspective… you kind of look back on your past year," said Robert Goldsmith, the executive director of the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services of Dothan.

As Goldsmith and the rest of the leadership at Temple Emanu-El celebrate the beginning of the new year in the Hebrew calendar they take a look at the past year and they're pleased.

"It's been amazing and what I try to imagine is even twice that wonderful feeling that I get when I sit in a pew and see the faces that are active and the kids that are running around...these are families that we helped move here and that's just a wonderful feeling," said Goldsmith.

But it came at a price-and that price equals up to 50,000 dollars per family. They started the project where they pay families to move to Dothan and stay for five years to practice Judaism in 2008 after a million dollar donation was provided. But in the midst of a recession the number of serious families who made it through the strict approval process were limited.

"Things got very quiet for a while. People were not interested in quitting their job and losing their healthcare and trying to sell the house for a loss but those days are over I think things are really popping back up," said Goldsmith.

They've brought six families to the area and now as the applications pick up, Goldsmith says he hopes they can bring even more families.

"We're rather selective. We brought what I say is the best and brightest," said Goldsmith.

Goldsmith says he's proud of the project and their past year.

"We're going to keep going for several more years and bring five, ten, even 15 more families," said Goldsmith.

That’s in hopes of reviving the Jewish community in the South and continuing to add more people in their pews.
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