Monday, September 24, 2012

Relocation Bonuses in Pelham Parkway Religiously Speaking

By Alexandria Jezina

AP Image
Would you uproot your whole family to a new area in order to receive an additional living bonus of approximately $625 a month? If you are like the Soloveichik family who relocated their family of six consisting of four small children from Chicago to Pelham Parkway of Bronx in New York, NY you would. The family is receiving the bonus from the synagogue they attend in Pelham Parkway as an incentive to boost the dwindling Orthodox Jewish population in the area.
This synagogue is not the first to use relocation bonuses as an incentive to boost the Jewish population in barren areas. Many synagogues across the US are using this draw to create a larger Jewish community in areas where Jewish families are few. Synagogues of New Jersey and New Orleans also use cash incentives to bring families to their community. In these cases, eventually synagogues lower their cash incentives to a lower amount after their goal of making the Jewish community stronger shows noticeable results. Many of these synagogues still report a number of applicants who want to come to the area after relocation bonuses are lowered due to the presence of a stronger Jewish community in the area.
Though cash rewards are used to bring Jewish families to the area, chosen applicants must go through a detailed interview process and fit certain expectations to be chosen as the recipient of the cash relocation bonus. While some may view the mix of religion and cash bribery as ethically wrong, others see the potential of these programs to create prosperous Jewish communities in places where there was no sense of the Jewish identity before. As a fellow Non-Jewish college student Lexie England of Hofstra University stated, “I can see where there is an ethical dilemma in the situation, but I feel that there are not necessarily negative consequences to it. In the end these synagogues are bringing actively worshipping families together and making their communities stronger." 

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