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Because of You, Parents Like Susie Can Help Their Kids Connect to Judaism

“Our family has always been connected to Judaism. We’re longtime members of Congregation Shearith Israel, the in-town conservative synagogue, my kids went through religious school, and my oldest daughter, Stella, who’s now 20, grew up going to Camp Ramah Darom.

When Stella was in ninth grade, she was nominated to be part of a leadership learning program, a JumpSpark program called Strong Women Fellowship. JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship was an empowering educational cohort that provided female-identifying Jewish teens in Atlanta with unparalleled access to strong women leaders, thinkers, and voices shaping the world we live in today. This program exposed her to different partner agencies in the Atlanta Jewish Community and strong women within them.

Through that, our family learned about JumpSpark. I later met the director who invited me and other parents to meaningful programming and learning opportunities.

I’m sure I am just one of many parents who knew of the Jewish Federation but did not realize that JumpSpark is the Atlanta Jewish teen initiative at the Federation and serves as a hub for teen engagement. Knowing that JumpSpark works with teens, parents, and professionals to increase Jewish teen engagement through Atlanta is empowering.

This program inspired Stella to take the initiative to learn about Israel. She had never been to Israel, and it exposed her to the Jewish world in Atlanta outside of her intown community. This also led her to participate in The American Jewish Committee’s Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) program.

LFT is AJC’s education and advocacy program for teens that empowers young Jews to speak up for Israel and the Jewish people. It helps high school students develop a strong Jewish identity and trains them as advocates for Israel, and to be voices against antisemitism.

It was eye opening for her to see Jewish communities beyond where she grew up. These programs exposed her to the greater Jewish world.

Later in high school, she joined the Amplify Israel Teen Fellowship, a JumpSpark program that connects Jewish teens in Atlanta to Jewish teens in Israel. The Federation’s partnership with RootOne and the Ramah Seminar provided Stella with the opportunity to travel to Israel. These programs exposed her to the global diversity of the Jewish community.

As Stella got older, I now had a parent cohort to connect with. JumpSpark has become a key resource for parents like me. Whether it’s about what’s going on college campuses, or how to best support our kids. It provides exposure and tools to better talk to my kids about these bigger, important issues.

This connection has helped to play a role in passing on Jewish education, traditions, and values to our kids. As a parent, my husband and I agree it is our responsibility to expose our kids to different opportunities. Kind of like, here’s your “menu of opportunities” of things to become connected to take part in if you want to.

JumpSpark has helped us provide these opportunities, by providing resources to us, and to our children. It has exposed us to other organizations, and connected us with other parents, including other Jewish teen parents. 

It exposed us to Project Launch, by providing programming on the transition from middle school to high school and high school to college. You could listen to a zoom or a webinar every night of the week, whether it’s an ADL program, AJC, Hillel, or JF&CS about teen resources on mental health, especially during COVID.

My parents gave us every tool, but really, what made us connect to our Judaism, feel proud, and want to explore more, was having the opportunity to do it with other Jewish teens, and also being able to connect with Israeli teens.

That’s what I love about JumpSpark; it’s not just coming from the parents, and it’s not just coming from professionals. It provides opportunities for kids to connect together and learn from each other, and it is helping make Atlanta a thriving hub for Jewish teens. 

The best thing about JumpSpark is that it didn’t just have a huge impact on Stella. We all sort of learned along with it.”

From Susie and other Jewish Atlanta teen parents: Thank you.

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