In an ambitious bid to bolster New Orleans' Jewish population following Hurricane Katrina, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans has announced a program of financial incentives to families who make their home in the city.
The incentives are modeled on the Nefesh B'Nefesh immigration to Israel scheme, which enables Jewish families to settle across Israel. "Young people who are looking for new opportunities but do not want to relocate as far as Israel would do well to look southwards to the Jewish community of New Orleans," a press release by the city's Jewish federation said.
The package includes "moving grants, day school scholarships, loans and other benefits as part of its $500,000 Newcomer's Incentive Plan," the press statement added.
"Two years ago when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, the New Orleans community lost 30 percent of its Jewish members," the city's Jewish Federation said.
"Today, with rebuilding efforts well underway, the Jewish community is looking to recruit 1,000 new families over the next 5 years. Already, close to 200 new Jewish families have moved to the area and more than 50 have begun to inquire about incentives," the statement said, adding: "Now, with funding support from United Jewish Communities and a recent grant of $100,000 from the Los Angeles Federation, the local Federation has half a million dollars available for returnees and newcomers."
The Incentives Plan also contains a strong sell of New Orleans, which is described as being warmer than many US cities, "with a choice of nine synagogues, two JCCs, two day schools, two kosher restaurants and other facilities... It is also a city with soul, featuring jazz, Mardi Gras, great food traditions and a strong local culture."
"Young professionals say that they are moving to the city because they can sense the exciting opportunities which are open to them," the statement added.