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Jewish Education Collaborative Names Teachers of the Year 

By Jewish Education Collaborative

Federation’s Jewish Education Collaborative (JEC) is proud to name the winners of the 2023 Sylvia Newman Memorial Teachers of the Year Award. This prize was established in 2021 by Howard Newnan in honor of his late wife, Sylvia. Sylvia’s passion was Jewish education, and she taught in a local religious school for many years.   

The awards, which will be presented at Federation’s Annual Meeting on May 31, honors excellence in teaching at Atlanta’s supplemental religious schools. Excellence includes an ability to excite Jewish learners, creativity to implement innovative educational programs, serving as a role model for students, and demonstrating efforts to grow and improve in one’s teaching practice. The award honors both a veteran religious school teacher, Carey Grucza, and a newer teacher, Lauren Davis.   

Carey Grucza teaches 4th grade at Temple Kehillat Chaim and has been teaching there for 15 years. She is an example of a teacher who always goes above and beyond. During Covid, she revolutionized the teaching strategies for the faculty at TKC, showing her colleagues how to make online learning interactive and fun. Since returning to in-person learning, Carey continues to create engaging, hands-on programs for students, expanding and improving upon existing curricula. Carey fosters a love of Jewish learning among her students and inspires everyone with whom she works, children and adults alike.  

Lauren Davis teaches Judaics for 6th/7th graders and music education for Pre-K through 7th grade at Temple Kol Emeth. This was her third year in the congregation, and in a short time, Lauren transformed the TKE community with her positive energy and love for teaching. Even as a newer teacher herself, Lauren mentored other new teachers and song leaders. She also designed and implemented creative new music curricula for the school.  

JEC and all of Federation salutes the incredible work of these educators. Supplemental Jewish education is a vital part of the fabric of Jewish Atlanta, and it is exceptional teachers like Carey and Lauren who bring Jewish learning to life.   


How Federation Supports Mental Health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. After the tumult of the last several years, there is, thankfully, more focus than ever on the importance of proper mental healthcare in all our lives. The theme for this year’s observance month is “More Than Enough,” because every person has inherent value—no matter your diagnosis, socioeconomic status, background, or ability. You, as you are, are more than enough 

Here are a few ways Federation supports mental healthcare: 

  • Federation partners with The Blue Dove Foundation, which aims to address mental illness and addiction in the Jewish community and beyond. They work with organizations and communities—both Jewish and interfaith—across the country and around the world. Click here to access their free resources for Mental Health Awareness Month 
  • Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) supports the health of Jewish Atlantans in many ways, and that includes mental health. They offer counseling for people in every stage of life, from children to older adults. Their therapists accept most insurance and offer private pay options, as well as sliding scale fees. Click here to explore the full range of clinical services.  
  • BeWell supports Jewish youth facing mental health challenges as well as those that care for them. In March, BeWell Atlanta was launched thanks to a $500,000 matching grant from the Zalik Foundation, secured through the Atlanta Jewish Funder Collaborative led by the Atlanta Jewish Foundation. This will allow for the hiring of more professionals and the expansion of services at JF&CS’s Frances Bunzl Clinical Services. The National arm of BeWell hosts monthly Resiliency Roundtables themed around mental health topics. May’s session is Community Approaches & Clinical Insights to Youth Suicide Prevention. The online workshop is May 23, 2023 at 2 PM; click here to register.  
  • In The City Camps (ITC) recently announced that their strength-focused mental health staff training program is now available. Federation supported them in adopting this curriculum, thanks to a grant from our Innovation Initiative. The curriculum is available to all camps nationally this summer and will better prepare staff for the challenges that can occur during camp sessions.  

Mental health affects every area of a person’s life, and it is so important that Jewish Atlantans can access care and education before they are in crisis. By giving to Federation, you’re supporting these and other programs that connect people to the help they need.  


Matan to Honor Gail Heyman


Atlanta’s own Gail Heyman is being awarded with Matan’s Leadership Award. This honor, presented since 2009, is in recognition of an individual’s efforts in promoting inclusion, respect, dignity, and services to Jewish community members who have disabilities and their families.

Dori Kirshner, Executive Director of Matan, says, “In every community we get to be a part of—whether for a short time or a longer time—there are always a handful of changemakers. They take new people under their wings, they advocate for others, and they look outside their own immediate needs. Gail thinks beyond just her own family; her advocacy doesn’t stop where her family’s needs stop. She isn’t complacent about adhering to the status quo if there’s progress to be made, and she isn’t afraid to blaze new trails.”

Gail is a longtime supporter of Federation and was a member of the disabilities task force that founded Jewish Abilities Atlanta (JAA). She then served on JAA’s advisory committee for several years and was instrumental in their 2020 community study on disability inclusion in Jewish Atlanta, in partnership with Matan. She has been involved with other projects for community members with disabilities, including The Den, a sensory-friendly cabin at Camp Barney Medintz. Her son, Scott (or Scotty), is a familiar face at Camp Barney, having worked in the kitchen for many years.

Gail is an advocate for people with disabilities and their families not only in Jewish Atlanta, but more broadly across communities. She is the Co-Founder and President of the Fragile X Foundation of Georgia and on the advisory board of JScreen, which advocates for genetic screening to identify genetic conditions like Fragile X, among others.

Of the recognition, Gail says, “I am honored to represent JAA and Greater Atlanta Jewish community with this award in recognition of the great strides that we will continue to make for inclusion.”

Dori first met Gail during the pandemic when they were collaborating on the 2020 community study. “Gail reached through the Zoom and grabbed me in both an allyship way, as well as a friend—she made it clear that by joining together in inclusion efforts, we could get more accomplished.” The two stayed in touch, and Dori was blown away by Gail’s passion for advocacy.

Matan, which means “gift,” was founded 23 years ago in the New York metro area as a local direct service organization that supported neurodiverse students at day schools, after school programs, and more. In their first decade, Matan set up Hebrew school options at JCCs across the TriState Area. As day schools and synagogues began expanding accessibility and supporting families, they became a training organization that prepares Education Directors, Teen and Youth Directors, Rabbis, Early Childhood Educators, and more to provide better s and experiences to families and individuals with and without disabilities.

Matan now supports people across the lifespan in all stages of life, “from babies to bubbies.” Dori says we “must have willing partners in the community in order to do this holy work, and Gail is certainly that. She has carried the banner and brought so many new people into the inclusion mindset; she has and will continue to affect change so that everyone is included in Jewish life.”

Project Dignity Collecting Products for Menstrual Hygiene Day

By People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

Project Dignity, an initiative of Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, raises awareness about period poverty and its effects on women and girls. This year, Project Dignity is observing National Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 by collecting donations of menstrual products.

Periods are a fact of life for just about half the world’s population, but not everyone who has a period gets to experience it with dignity. Many women, girls, and others who menstruate suffer from poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to menstrual products, and poor sanitation infrastructure. This can undermine the educational opportunities, health, and overall social status of women and girls and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

This video from Bustle highlights how difficult it is for unhoused women to manage their periods:

Menstrual products collected through Project Dignity are distributed to four organizations on an ongoing basis: JF&CS Food Pantry, CHRIS 180, Solidarity Sandy Springs, and the Sandy Springs Community Assistance Center.

To get involved, you can:

  • Bring your donation of menstrual pads or tampons to Federation’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 31 at the Selig Center
  • Visit our Amazon Wishlist to donate menstrual products
  • Volunteer to deliver collected products to our local partners or
  • Arrange Drop Off by contacting or 404-870-1618

It is imperative that we look out for women and girls in Atlanta, and make our city a safer, healthier place to have a period. Project Dignity is an opportunity to practice tikkun olam, repairing the world, and we invite you to join us in this effort.

Thank you for your support of this important cause.

The Project Dignity Committee:

Amy Arogeti, Marcy Bass, Caren Merlin, Lori Peljovich, Jessica Sacks

For any questions, please contact Becca Langfelder at or 404-870-1618.

JIFLA Offers Free Online Financial Coaching

By jewishatlanta

The Jewish Interest Free Loan of Atlanta (JIFLA), in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, is proud to offer free one-on-one financial coaching services with financial coach Shay Port. The Jewish Interest-Free Loan of Atlanta helps community members overcome challenging financial periods and maintain financial stability by providing interest-free loans.

Nancy Weissmann, JIFLA’s Executive Director, says, “With the support of our amazing partners at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, these sessions are free for those interested and are designed to help anyone reach their financial goals. We continue to be committed to the health and prosperity of Jewish Atlantans and will always look for new ways to best help our community and support financial stability for all.”

The program began in January, thanks to a special allocations grant. Appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis, are 50 minutes each, and are offered via phone or Zoom. Sessions are customized to fit each person’s financial goals and help them achieve success across a multitude of monetary issues, including:

  • Debt management
  • Credit score improvement
  • Budgeting/spending plans
  • Home purchasing guidance
  • Savings/investing plans
  • Credit card use best practices
  • Applying for public assistance programs
  • General financial education

To sign up for your session, click here.

adults camping

Adult Summer Camp Is Almost Here

By NextGen

Do you ever wish you could escape the daily grind and go back to Jewish summer camp? Well, now you can! Relive your days in the sun with s’mores, swimming, and campfire songs at Trybal South, the southeast’s Adult Jewish Summer Camp from Trybal Gatherings.

Trybal Gatherings offers innovative getaways for young adults to connect, explore, play, and celebrate in a socially Jewish context. Their adult summer camps are an opportunity to reconnect with Judaism and your inner kid. This year, Trybal South is August 10-13.

At this weekend getaway, choose from traditional camp activities (like Color War or bouncing your friends into the lake from The Blob), or original ones (like Bubbe’s Beer Garden and a silent disco). All campers get to experience a Shabbat Soirée and a Five-Senses Havdallah. Registration includes 4 days and 3 nights of lodging, all meals and snacks (yes, even the s’mores!), an open bar, and more.

Nathan Sauer, a 30-years old IT Project Manager who attended Trybal South, says, “I encourage anyone to sign up for Trybal. You’ll get an immersive experience that brings you out of your comfort zone and allows you to connect with other Jewish young professionals from all across the region, from all different backgrounds. It is a truly special and one-of-a-kind experience and is hard to grasp just how much of an impact it has on everyone involved until the end.”

To sign up for Trybal South, click here. Standard registration is open until June 30, so book your bunk now to reserve at the lowest rate. Federation is proud to support Trybal Gatherings and offer this incredible experience for young adults across the southeast.

robert mann headshot

Welcome Our New Frances Bunzl Chief Philanthropy Officer!


Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is thrilled to announce our new Frances Bunzl Chief Philanthropy Officer, Rob Mann.

Rob grew-up in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. He comes from, as he describes it, a “Federation Family” – his grandparents were donors to Federation in Chicago, and his father was Campaign Chairman in the 80s.

Philanthropy and service are truly Rob’s passion. He has a long history of volunteering with Federation; in Chicago, he was a member and Campaign Chair of the Young Leadership Division of Jewish United Fund in Chicago, and then a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet of which he was Campaign Chair and Chair of the Men’s Cabinet. He was also chair of the National Training Department for the United Jewish Communities—now known as the Jewish Federations of North America. Rob has spoken at or trained in more than 30 Federation communities throughout North America and has been on more than 15 Federation journeys to Israel, The Former Soviet Union, and Ethiopia—often as a chair or learning resource.

He earned his BSM from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University before moving to Atlanta to work in Macy’s Management Training Program. He transitioned into radio advertising sales with Emmis Broadcasting, a position which brought him to Indianapolis, and then home to Chicago. In 1990, he joined the family business, Henry-Lee and Company. His grandfather, the “Henry” in “Henry-Lee,” founded the company 65 years ago. Rob eventually became President, as well as 3rd generation owner, and successfully pivoted the brand from dressmakers to purveyors of premium denim. While at Henry-Lee and Company, he earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Rob is thrilled to have reached a point in his career where he can make the leap into this field full-time. “Working for Federation is what I’ve wanted to do for a long time.” It is important to him to see Federation succeed, and to usher in a new generation of philanthropists. He says, “My main drive is always harnessing on my own enthusiasm for a cause and then sharing and giving that excitement to others.” He has big dreams for Jewish Atlanta, including enhancing and growing our Young Leadership Division.

For the last ten years, Rob has split his time between Chicago and Atlanta. He and his wife, Dorsey Waldron Mann, are happy to finally be settled together in Sandy Springs. Rob has three adult children: Lila, and Ryan, who live in New York, and Henry, a rising senior at Tulane.

We are delighted to have him on board and cannot wait to see how Atlanta’s philanthropy blossoms under his tenure!


Survey Results Teach Us About Federation’s Community


In February, Federation conducted a Community Snapshot Survey to help us learn a little more about Jewish Atlanta. We received 1,367 responses to the survey, all from adults over 18 who live in the metro Atlanta area.

We learned some fascinating things about our Atlanta Jewish community:

  • The most important aspects of Judaism for respondents are morals and family/traditions.
  • Respondents have deep ties to Atlanta; even those who grew-up somewhere else (like New York, Florida, or Chicago) have likely lived in Atlanta for many years.
  • 82% of those who filled out the survey do not plan to move away from Atlanta, and those who are planning some sort of move are likely to move within the metro area.
  • 40% of respondents are over the age of 65, and 67% are women.
  • Over 71% of respondents either have not designated any charitable giving in their estate planning, or do not have wills at all.

This data, while not entirely surprising from what we knew of our community, still gives us valuable insight into the makeup of Jewish Atlanta. Many of the responses align with community surveys from other areas of the country—especially when it comes to the importance of Jewish morality and traditions.

These results reinforce Federation’s emphasis on investing in overnight camping (a grand tradition in the Jewish community), Gather Grants (which help people form new traditions), and to caring for the vulnerable (a pillar of Jewish morality).

It also shows us that there are opportunities for Federation’s community to consider the importance of legacy giving. Endowments and other legacy gifts are vital to the longevity of Jewish institutions and will help them continue to thrive for decades to come. Jori Mendel, Chief Foundation Officer at the Atlanta Jewish Foundation, says, “Atlanta Jewish Foundation is here to help you plan your legacy—it’s easy and so important.  Your generous endowment gifts help to secure our Jewish future and help ensure that Jewish life remains vibrant in Atlanta, in Israel and around the world.”

Thank you to everyone who answered our Community Snapshot Survey. It is one example of our overall investment in data and research. We recently completed an Early Childhood Community Assessment and are working on a qualitative report regarding interfaith families. We are dedicated to focusing on data so we can better understand our community needs and provide the most needed services to our community.

Thank You by Matt Bronfman


My term as Board Chair ends this month. Since I accepted this position, we have experienced a global pandemic, unprecedented rising antisemitism, and (generally speaking) more requests for aid than I could have anticipated. But serving as Federation Chair has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.

I have been part of fostering community, from our successful Journey to Israel to creating affinity organizations for real estate and technology professionals. I have experienced firsthand the good we do, from pandemic emergency funds, to delivering relief in Ukraine, to supporting our schools and our elderly, to overseeing and providing security for our community organizations.

I am proud to say that Federation has raised and distributed more money in the last two years than in any previous period. I am more convinced than ever in the Federated model of giving. Yes, you should give to the unique charities that engage you. But Federation uniquely speaks for our entire community. We offer wayfinding for those in need of assistance and those looking to provide it; we aggregate community data to anticipate broader needs; we fund both startups and established organizations to ensure that when you need services, they are available to you. In any given year we support over 50 organizations, providing the backbone that makes the Atlanta Jewish community one of the most thriving in the world.

I am so proud to be a part of our community and the Federation team, and I thank you for the opportunity to serve.

kids learning

Fellowship Trains Jewish Educators to Teach Israel in New Ways

By Jewish Education Collaborative

Do you ever wonder how educators stay on top of best practices and research in their field? In Atlanta and Chicago, one option is the “Shifting the Paradigm” Israel Education Fellowship. This exciting program is an initiative of the Jewish Education Collaborative (JEC) of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, in partnership with the Chicago Jewish education community, the iCenter, and the World Zionist Organization.  

The Fellowship was designed specifically for senior educators at supplemental Jewish education programs, and includes 31 individuals (including education directors, rabbis, and community and camp professionals), 13 of whom are from Atlanta. The 18-month fellowship began in January, 2023, and meets online monthly.  

Through the Fellowship, educators are exploring new approaches to teaching and learning about Israel, using the latest research. The Fellows have been participating in a series of engaging online sessions with expert faculty, and the program includes an immersive, 8-day learning seminar in Israel.  

Rabbi Elana Perry, Director of JEC, says, “This program is special because we don’t always have the opportunity to collaborate with other communities. Demand for this training has been high—initially, we aimed to recruit 6 Atlanta educators to the program; we ended up with 13. And the commitment to an 18-month program shows the dedication of these educators.” 

Participants in the Fellowship will use this training to implement new Israel education programs at their home institutions, funded by grants from JEC. Rabbi Elana says, “I’m so excited to see how these educators take this learning and use it to transform the ways in which learners connect and engage with Israel.”