Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wanna move to New Orleans? They'll pay you!

Not exactly. But similar to how Israel recruits new olim, the New Orleans Jewish community is now recruiting new immigrants...Out of the 10,000 Jews in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, only 7,000 remain. There is a strong desire amongst those who are still there to rebuil dtheir community, and so they've decided to offer incentives (from the LA Times):

So Jewish New Orleans has cooked up a novel solution: a recruitment drive. With an ad campaign crafted by an Israeli public relations firm, the city's Jewish leaders are hoping to attract at least 1,000 Jews to the city over the next five years. They will appeal to potential pilgrims' better natures, stressing the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, Hebrew for "healing the world" — or, in this case, healing a broken city.

They also plan to lure them with cash. Starting next month, any Jew who has relocated to the city since Jan. 1 will be eligible for up to $5,500 for moving and housing expenses, interest-free loans of up to $30,000, half-price tuition at Jewish day schools, and a year of free membership at a synagogue and a Jewish community center.The concept was hatched, in part, by Michael J. Weil, an economist who moved here from Israel in October to head the Jewish Federation, the umbrella group for the city's Jewish agencies and programs. As a consultant to the Israeli government, Weil helped settle thousands of Jewish refugees in Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The New Orleans benefits were based, in part, on the sal klita, the "absorption benefits basket" offered to Israeli newcomers.

The recruitment drive springs from an acknowledgment that city officials have done a poor job touting New Orleans' progress in the two years since Katrina. The Jewish community will have to get that message out to its people on its own, Weil said.

"I would hope that nobody's going to move here just because of the incentive package, but it will be a lubricant," Weil said. "We cannot sit around waiting for the Road Home program and all these other things to take place, because we want to be in that great, better place tomorrow." Road Home is a state program that distributes federal funds for Katrina recovery efforts.

So...want to relocate???

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