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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Jewish families offered as much as $50,000 by Dothan, Ala. organization to move south

Some Gainesville residents doubt the effectiveness of an Alabama-based organization’s initiative to give up to $50,000 to Jewish families who agree to move to a Southern state. The campaign is aimed at preserving Judaism in a region that’s not predominantly Jewish.

“It doesn’t have a shot,” said Ross Elpren, an 18-year-old UF pre-health freshman. “Jews might move to southern urban areas like Atlanta or Miami — a place where they can find a support group — but a little place… no matter how much money they are offering, won’t cut it.”

Chelsea Stromfeld, an 18-year-old UF public relations freshman, felt the tension firsthand.

“My parents were hesitant about even letting me apply to colleges in the South, because they knew that the Jewish community was weak down here,” she said.

Matti Gorodenchik, a staff member at UF Hillel, agreed that Jewish families could be reluctant to leave historically Jewish communities.

“Jewish families now wouldn’t just drop everything and go south, no matter how much money is involved,” he said. “If your people have a rich history in an area, you will stay where you are comfortable.”

A version of this story ran on page 4 on 9/6/2013 under the headline "Shalom, y’all: Jewish families offered money to move south"

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