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Atlanta Rides for the Living

By Eric's Blog

By Eric M. Robbins

I had the privilege of participating in the Ride for the Living in Poland earlier this month, along with a delegation of 12 Jewish Atlantans, including my 17-year-old daughter, Sasha. This deeply meaningful experience commemorates the Holocaust and celebrates the rebirth of the Jewish community in Krakow, Poland.

As we embarked on the 60-mile bike ride from the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow, we were immersed in the rich tapestry of Krakow’s Jewish past, present, and future. The journey was a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of the Jewish community. Before we began the ride, a survivor of Auschwitz inspired us with a meaningful message, urging us always to be on the lookout for injustice and intolerance in the world.

During the closing ceremony on Sunday, July 2, we had the honor of witnessing the reopening of the JCC Krakow Senior Club kitchen, which had undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to the generous sponsorship of Atlanta’s very own Marcia and Mark Miller. Their involvement made it possible for the kitchen to be rebuilt from scratch, making it more accessible and better suited to the needs of Krakow’s most treasured community members—the Holocaust survivors and Ukrainian refugees who use the JCC every day.

Witnessing the impact of Marcia and Mark’s compassion and support was truly heartwarming. It reminded me of how the work we do in Atlanta stretches across the globe, connecting hearts and bridging communities in the most meaningful ways.

If you would like to be a part of the 2024 Ride for the Living and Jewish Culture Festival to have this experience first-hand, I encourage you to reach out to Robin Sysler at rsysler@jewishatlanta.org. By doing so, you’ll join a community of passionate individuals ready to honor history, celebrate life, and continue making a positive difference in the world. Together, we can create lasting connections and contribute to a brighter future for all.

Federation Launches JTech

By COMMUNITY

Federation is excited to offer J-TECH, a new affinity group for Jews working in the technology sector that aims to help professionals network, hear from leaders in the industry, and learn about the impact of Federation in Atlanta and beyond.

This group, co-chaired by Mitchell Kopelman and Dorrie Paradies, is a fantastic resource for anyone who works in the tech industry, provides services for those in tech (such as attorneys, accountants, etc.), investors in tech companies, or those who work in tech departments in other industries.  

Our inaugural event was held in May at the offices of Nelson Mullins. David Zalik, Co-Head of Merchant Point-of-Sale Lending with Goldman Sachs and co-founder of The Zalik Foundation, was interviewed by co-chair Mitchell Kopelman.

The attendees were excited to hear directly from David Zalik about his experiences as an entrepreneur, his advice to those starting out, and what his mentors taught him over the years. They also learned about his personal connection to Federation and how the Zalik Foundation works with the Federation. “We’re very proud to partner with Federation. The Atlanta Jewish Federation has been the community leader, community organizer, community connector for our Jewish community. We are passionate about what Atlanta Jewish Federation provides as the central nervous system and the heart and soul of this Jewish community.”

J-TECH is proud to provide outstanding networking and learning opportunities while engaging new people in the work of Federation. Our next event is scheduled for Monday, October 30th at 5 PM, location TBA. Sign up for our mailing list today to receive updates.

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PJ Library is Splashing into Summer

By PJ LIbrary

PJ Library is making a SPLASH this summer with Splash Pad meetups around town! Come play with other PJ Library families at these fun-filled gatherings; our meetups are the perfect way to make new friends in Jewish ATL.

Splash into Summer kicked off this past Sunday in Sandy Springs with over 25 families in attendance at the splash pad at City Springs. Many new connections between families were made as children cooled off in the water. One parent commented, “It was a blast! I met a great new family that lives right by us.” Many parents expressed gratitude that meetups are being scheduled in the area and are already planning to attend another.

You’ll find us playing in the summer sun:

  • Sunday July 16 at 10 AM in Atlanta
  • Sunday July 23 at 11 AM in Brookhaven
  • Sunday July 23 at 3:30 PM in Dunwoody
  • Friday July 28th at 5 PM as part of Dive into Shabbat in partnership with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

Click here to sign up and receive the meetup locations. We hope to see you there!

Brian Davis

Meet Our New Security Director

By Secure Community Network

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and the Secure Community Network Announce Hiring of Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent Brian Davis to Bolster Community Safety and Security 

Davis Will Advise, Direct, and Enhance the Community Security Program to Reach Jewish Communities Across Greater Atlanta 

 

ATLANTA, GA – The Secure Community Network (SCN), the official safety and security organization for the Jewish community in North America, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta today announced the hiring of Brian Davis as Community Security Director. Davis will continue to grow the existing community security program in Atlanta — one of the oldest in the country — reporting to Neil Rabinovitz, Southeast Regional Director for SCN based in Atlanta, and supervising Deputy Community Security Director Bryan Underwood. The Atlanta program, which Brian Davis will now oversee, is designed to increase safety and security for all those who participate in synagogues, day schools, museums, service organizations, and other centers of Jewish life.  

“SCN is proud of our partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and excited to announce Brian as its new Community Security Director,” said Michael Masters, National Director and CEO of the Secure Community Network. “Our goal is to ensure the safety, security, and resiliency of all Jewish communities, and this partnership, and hire, is helping to do just that.” 

“The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is excited to continue its partnership with SCN and formally welcome Brian to our team,” said Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Eric Robbins.As America faces dramatic increases in antisemitic threats and incidents, Jewish communal security has never been more important. Brian has extensive experience and knowledge of safety and security issues, making him an enormous asset to our community.” 

The Federation program is part of the growing network of Jewish Federations and communities that have partnered with SCN to launch community-wide security programs designed around an “all threats, all hazards” approach to preparedness, safety, security, and resiliency. Each program is connected to SCN’s national operations, providing direct access to SCN’s National Jewish Security Operations Command Center and Duty Desk, as well as best practice security resources and support related to policies, procedures, physical security, facility assessments, training, and incident response.  

The Atlanta security initiative is being made possible through professional support from the Federation & SCN; funding through the collaborative efforts of the Federation local donors; community partner organizations, and national donor support from SCN and LiveSecure, the historic partnership between The Jewish Federations of North America and SCN to fund and create a collective security framework for every Jewish community across North America.

“In our journey to ensure that every Jewish community has a strong security initiative necessary for flourishing Jewish life, we’re thrilled to see that Atlanta is taking steps to expand its security program. I look forward to working with the community to raise the necessary matching funds as it continues on its journey to secure the Jewish community,” said Jewish Federations of North America Chair Julie Platt. 

Prior to joining SCN, Davis spent 29 years in law enforcement. Located in Atlanta, Davis served as the Supervisory Special Agent over the Transnational Organized Crimes Unit of the Western Hemisphere. He also served as Supervisory Special Agent in Washington DC, as the Program Manager for the Public Corruption Unit.  

As an FBI Special Agent, Davis worked with federal, state, and local law enforcement to investigate and solve a range of high-profile and complex criminal cases such as hate crimes, civil rights violations, public corruption, violent crimes, bank robberies, kidnappings, and fugitives. 

Prior to his 21 years with the FBI, Davis was the lead investigator for the Narcotics Unit of the Gaston County Police in North Carolina for eight years.  

“It is an honor for me to work with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and SCN and use my experience to contribute to the safety and security of the Jewish community in Greater Atlanta,” said Davis. “I look forward to building on the strong security program here led by Neil Rabinowitz, and to help this Jewish community thrive.” 

Davis will succeed former Community Security Director Neil Rabinowitz. Neil was hired in April of 2020 by SCN to manage the security program, and will now be overseeing it as a Regional Director.  

teacher-and-student-wearing-crowns

Our Jewish Community Needs Amazing Teachers Like You

By Jewish Education Collaborative

Are you looking for rewarding part-time work? Or do you know someone who loves spending time with kids and helping them grow? Atlanta’s part-time Jewish education programs need you! The Jewish Education Collaborative at Federation is helping to recruit supplemental Jewish education teachers for our partner organizations. For each new teacher hired that you recruit, you could get a $100 referral stipend.

Rabbi Elana Perry, Director of the Jewish Education Collaborative, says: “Atlanta’s Jewish children are ready to learn in fun and creative ways, and our schools are ready to give teachers the tools to support them in their growth. Now we just need more teachers to bring passion, curiosity, and dedication to help to make that learning come alive for our kids!”

Whether you’re an experienced educator or stepping in front of the classroom for the first time, if you’re passionate about Jewish learning, we want you! Contact Rabbi Elana Perry for details.

Update on Community Safety

By Secure Community Network

Federation and the Secure Communities Network (SCN) want to update Jewish Atlanta on community safety following activity by antisemitic groups over the weekend. We also want to remind our community of a timely, free security training class being offered next month to all members of Jewish Atlanta. Countering Active Threat Training will be Wednesday, July 19, at 7 PM on Zoom. Click here to register for this free class.

On Friday, June 23, approximately 15 individuals demonstrated with the so-called “Goyim Defense League” (GDL) outside of Temple Beth Israel in Macon, GA. Local police arrived at the scene and arrested GDL leader Jon Minadeo for disturbance of the peace and other minor charges; he posted bond and was released hours later. On Saturday, Minadeo and other GDL protesters returned to Temple Beth Israel and were twice removed by the police. On Saturday afternoon, GDL also appeared at the Chabad of East Cobb.

On Saturday evening and Sunday, June 25, GDL distributed antisemitic flyers in several neighborhoods throughout East Cobb and Sandy Springs. Federation’s Deputy Security Director Bryan Underwood said, “Their practice is to anchor the flyers with something so that they won’t blow away. Sometimes they use pebbles or sand to do this; yesterday they used goat feed. Many concerned citizens mistook the goat feed for rat poison. In case you heard anything about this, I want to be clear: the substance used was not rat poison.”

Security experts do not believe that GDL poses an immediate threat to the people of Jewish Atlanta. Bryan says, “In my opinion, GDL does not present a significant, direct threat of violence. They generally communicate their reprehensible beliefs within the protections afforded by first amendment and free speech. They are very careful not to cross bright legal lines which would lead to any serious criminal exposure. They tend to be very active in a location for a few days with their protests and flyering, then move on to somewhere else. However, they do pose an indirect threat because an unstable lone actor could be inspired by their rhetoric. So, please exercise a heightened sense of awareness.” Remember that you can use Federation’s online incident reporting system to report any suspicious activity that might post a threat to Atlanta’s Jewish community.

Federation is home to Atlanta’s SCN program, which works around the clock to keep the entire Jewish community of Atlanta safe. Atlanta’s synagogues, day schools, nonprofit organizations, and more are all monitored by SCN.

“We are thankful for the quick response of law enforcement to the despicable acts of this weekend, and grateful for the expertise of our security team and our partners. It’s important to remember that the number of people in the world who hold such bigoted beliefs are very small, as this incident shows. The strength and resilience of Jewish Atlanta is much stronger than a tiny group of agitators,” said Federation’s President and CEO, Eric M. Robbins.

Federation and our community partners—including the ADL, Hillels of Georgia, and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) are working with law enforcement to monitor the situation in Georgia. We will be sure to alert our community with any updates.

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A Legacy of Philanthropy

By PHILANTHROPY

For Lynn Saperstein and Hilary Goldberg, giving back is a family affair. Mother Lynn and daughter Hilary are two women in a beautiful Jewish Atlanta family legacy. Their dedication to the longevity of their community is inspiring.

Lynn has always been passionate about Jewish organizations. As her daughters, Hilary Goldberg and Raleigh Wasser were growing up, she was involved with many, including The Epstein School, Temple Kol Emeth, Temple Sinai, and serving on multiple Women’s’ Philanthropy committees. “My goal is always to be a role model for my daughters in terms of leadership, philanthropy, and giving back to the community. Participation in Women’s Philanthropy fulfills that for me.”

Approximately 10 years ago, Lynn became a Lion of Judah. Lions of Judah are an internationally recognized pride of women who share a commitment to philanthropic values in our Jewish community. By making an annual gift of $5,400 or more to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Lions demonstrate their dedication to helping those in need and ensuring a vibrant Jewish future. Sustained giving is one of the most impactful ways to support an organization.

Lynn believes more people should learn the ways they can support community nonprofits. “Serving on the Allocations Committee at Federation gave me a much better understanding of all Federation does. There are so many partners and initiatives, and I was blown away by the scope.” Lynn and Michelle Simon conceived of Women’s Philanthropy’s POP-Up Events, which educate community members about Federation’s partners and programs. “We must make sure people are educated about this work, and that they feel empowered to give, no matter at what level. If you give from your heart, that’s what counts. The feeling of knowing that you’re helping people in need is unmatched. We touch real people in our community.”

Hilary is also a Lion of Judah and has carried on her mother’s legacy of service. She has served at The Temple as the PTA President of the WELC preschool for the past four years. Hilary’s in-laws are also a generational Federation family. Her husband’s grandmother was Betty Ann Jacobson, the first woman President of Federation in Atlanta, and her mother and father-in-law, Susan and Edward Goldberg, are both past presidents of Federation in Birmingham. Passing on this legacy from both sides of the family to her children is very important to her.

“We have this heritage, this bond, to everything Federation does. Everything my family is involved in—Jewish Kids Groups, PJ Library, In the City Camp—they’re all connected to Federation. As someone who has been in Atlanta my whole life, I feel a responsibility to keep these programs going here because I used them as a baby, a child, and now as an adult with my own children. Everyone deserves to have access to them.”

To learn more about setting up your family’s legacy in Jewish ATL, contact the Atlanta Jewish Foundation. Their team of experts will help you create a philanthropic plan that aligns with your Jewish values and maximizes the power of your investments.

PLOT-leaders-speaking-in-group

PLOT Builds Bridges in Atlanta

By COMMUNITY

Last week, we observed Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday for the third year. This holiday commemorates the day that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally received news of the Emancipation Proclamation—two years after it was issued. This holiday is a symbol of the transition from bondage to freedom, a theme that runs through much of Jewish tradition. Federation is proud to partner with organizations like Political Leaders of Tomorrow for Blacks and Jews (PLOT), which seek to uplift the voices of Jews of color and build bridges between the Black and Jewish communities in our city.

PLOT is funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. This April, PLOT hosted 32 Black and Jewish college students in a two-day in-person program with the theme, “Forging Alliances between Blacks and Jews to Combat Hate.” The powerful Leadership Forum made space for frank conversations, education from experts, and empathy.

“I have not been able to stop talking to my friends about all the amazing speakers we heard and the cool people I met from around the state. I will always remember the     kindness and genuine friendship that I saw between David Hoffman and Reverend Woodall even as they discussed issues that they hold dear yet disagree with each other about. The image of them smiling and shaking hands stays in my mind. I truly learned so much about cooperation when we disagree, but also that Black Americans and Jewish Americans have so much in common.”

-Participant in PLOT’s Leadership Forum

Dr. John Eaves, Founder & National Director of PLOT, says, “The Black-Jewish alliance that was so potently nurtured by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights era must be restored to address the rise of antisemitism on college campuses across the United States today. It has been refreshing and inspiring to see Black and Jewish college students from diametrical perspectives evolve from seeing the other as a stranger to understanding the common humanity that Blacks and Jews possess.”

Federation is proud to support the work of PLOT and other organizations that do this essential, intersectional work.

jonah-robleto-with-mom-elyse

Federation Makes Happy Campers

By Jewish Camp Initiative

Elyse’s son Jonah is currently experiencing his first summer at Jewish sleepaway camp, thanks in part to a One Happy Camper grant from Federation’s Jewish Camp initiative.

“I heard about Federation’s One Happy Camper grant through Rabbi Hirshy Minkowicz at the Chabad of North Fulton. My hopes for Jonah this summer are that he has an incredible time, makes lots of friends, and feels the warmth and joy of Judaism. I’m so excited that Jonah will experience Jewish overnight camp for the first time. I can’t wait for him to feel the camaraderie and Yiddishkeit that will surround him throughout this summer along with all the fun new adventures!”

-Elyse

Camp scholarships and grants from the Jewish Camp Initiative make it easier for kids across Atlanta to experience the life-changing magic of an immersive Jewish summer. This year, the Jewish Camp initiative awarded over $1.3 million in scholarships and grants to Atlanta campers. We are also proud to be the first community to increase our One Happy Camper incentive grant values in response to the rising costs of overnight camp, with support and encouragement from our partners at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. If you want to help the Jewish kids of Atlanta have a summer they’ll never forget, click here.