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CARING

First Came Oliver, Then Rosemary

By CARING, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

The Blessings of Our Fertility Journey
by Scott Anklowitz & Sarah Ashton

Scott: When Sarah and I met as colleagues at AT&T, we clicked right away. We dated for a year and a half, and when we married, Sarah was 36 and already concerned about her ability to conceive. We knew we had to get started trying right away. Little did we know there would be fertility issues on both sides. We began to see fertility doctors in Atlanta and for the next year it was bad news after bad news.

Both of us turned out to be cystic fibrosis carriers. I had a rare chromosomal translocation, so we were both infertile for multiple reasons. After two unsuccessful rounds of IVF we did not produce healthy embryos. Our doctor was frank: “You can keep doing this, but the costs and emotional and physical stress are going to be intense.” It was. We took a break for a few months.

The unexpected turning point came when our financial advisor, Elie Engler, shared his personal experience working with the Jewish Fertility Foundation (JFF) to build his family. Elie was absolutely pivotal in directing us to JFF’s Fertility Buddies program. Connecting with JFF, especially as an interfaith couple, introduced us to other wonderful resources and opportunities in the Atlanta Jewish community. JFF partners with PJ Library, 18Doors, and with organizations that help build families. It has reconnected me to Jewish life and given our family a deep appreciation of Judaism we never imagined.

Sarah: Ultimately, we went the egg donor route and had success right away. Oliver was born in 2019 and then came Rosemary in September 2020. We are so thankful that JFF and Elie pulled us into something warm and embracing. Elie guided us that being Jewish is different for everyone and it was up to us to define what that means for our family – this made us feel embraced.” JFF found us, and it has become a real source of passion and strength.

During COVID we hosted a JFF virtual wine and cheese tasting with 18Doors, which works with interfaith families. Our gathering included other interfaith couples, couples dealing with infertility, gay couples, and other nontraditional families. Rabbi Malka, who leads 18Doors is now part of our life. We’ve talked about trying to make this gathering an in-person event, a couple of times a year.

I’m not super religious but everyone has made me feel welcome. Scott became a Fertility Buddy and joined the JFF board. We’ve been to JFF CEO and Founder Elana Frank’s house for Shabbat dinner. I’m enjoying exposing Oliver and Rosemary, and my own parents, to this tradition. We read PJ Library Books every night to Oliver. None of this would have happened if not for our infertility journey. We have finally found a community of people that feel like “our” community through JFF.

Doing the Work to Close the Inclusion Gap or A Framework for an Inclusive Jewish Atlanta

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Jewish Abilities Alliance, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

Community Study on Disability Inclusion 

Annie Garrett, Jewish Abilities Alliance Manager 

In early 2020, the Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA) engaged in a community study of disability inclusion in Jewish Atlanta. The study was an opportunity to reflect on our community’s past efforts with disability inclusion and to reevaluate needs and areas for deeper focus and support. Shortly after we embarked on this work, the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold. As we started to understand the impact of the pandemic, this study took on even more importance. Individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, facing increased social isolation, cuts in crucial services, and increased vulnerability to their health and wellbeing. This study has shed light on our community’s most current and pressing needs and will provide crucial data and direction to continue lifting disability inclusion as a priority across all aspects of Jewish life.  

JAA worked closely with a consulting team from Matan, spending many months interviewing Jewish communal professionals, lay-leaders, self-advocates, caregivers, and family members. As a result, we have identified a framework that promotes and enhances a vision of a Jewish Atlanta that is fully inclusive of individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. This framework identifies several areas of inclusion work over the next several years to close the gap between what currently exists and what the community aims to accomplish:  

  • Establishing and supporting coordinated communal inclusion efforts and unified community goals 
  • Prioritizing funding for inclusion across the lifespan and ensuring sustainability 
  • Creating a shared communal vision of acceptance and support for individuals of all abilities 
  • Training for all community professionals and lay leaders to create an even landscape of inclusion knowledge and capability 

We look forward to sharing the outcomes of this study and our road map for the next several years as we deepen our work alongside our community partners, in making Jewish Atlanta a place where people of all abilities are welcomed, included, and embraced in all aspects of Jewish life. 

Supporting Holocaust Survivors: “Barry’s” Story

By AgeWell Atlanta, Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

by Cherie Aviv, Chair, Holocaust Survivor Support Fund

“Barry,” (his name has been changed for privacy) grew up in a loving Jewish home attending synagogue, observing Shabbat, playing dreidel, and eating Jewish foods. But when the National Socialists came to power and enforced Nazi rule, Barry was forced to wear a yellow star, quit school, leave home, and was transported by train to Auschwitz. By jumping off the train, and not getting caught or killed, he hid in the forest and used his skills, determination, and drive to survive. His family was not as fortunate and the horrors of that period left a mark on him, as it did on all Holocaust survivors.

Survivors of the Holocaust like Barry deserve to live out their lives comfortably, with dignity and support. Barry made a life for himself in Atlanta. As his health deteriorated, without family to care for him, financial resources to meet Barry’s needs became paramount. Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) provided case management and The Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF) provided funds so he could live his remaining days respectably and not alone, with a caregiver at his side. HSSF also provided Barry with grocery food gift cards, medical assistance, prescription assistance, and transportation help.

HSSF, convened by Federation, provides funds to meet the needs of Holocaust survivors, like Barry, as they get older and to supplement Claims Conference funds from Germany that are sent to social service agencies, in this case JF&CS. Claims Conference funds are insufficient to meet the needs of Barry and others like him, making HSSF support vital.

To support this important outreach: https://jewishatlanta.org/give/donate/

Our Responsibility
Holocaust survivors have a short window to receive this precious care. It is an act of community responsibility and an expression of the Jewish value of chesed (loving kindness) to care for the final generation of survivors who are still with us. As dollars deminish, our support for HSSF provides this very special population the opportunity to live their remaining years as fully as possible and with dignity.

Who does HSSF Support?
In Georgia, at least 218 of the 277 Holocaust survivors receive financial, social, reparations assistance, or support services. Of these 218, two thirds receive some type of financial assistance. Beginning in Fall 2020, HSSF funds also supported survivors in remote locations in the southeast that are served through JF&CS-Atlanta.

Needs are growing
The needs of survivors are growing as they age. The average survivor age is 86. More than 25 percent of survivors receiving financial support have annual incomes that fall below the Federal Poverty Level.
HSSF has allocated over $1.5 million for survivors through March 2021. This year alone, we project the financial need provided by HSSF to grow by 33 percent.
Supporting HSSF helps provide:

  •  Home-delivered meals — this has a significant impact by providing peace of mind and the comfort of a reliable food source.
  •  Grocery gift cards to improve survivors’ physical health by giving them access to more nutritious food options, and easing concerns about having enough food, which can be a source of anxiety.
  •  Prescription assistance, which takes a huge toll on survivors who may face large co-pays and often are on multiple expensive medications.
  •  Homecare, which provides the greatest need to help survivors with activities of daily living, from bathing, assistance with food intake and basic human needs.
  •  And much more…

HSSF, convened by Federation, is a partnership of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Career Services, Jewish HomeLife Communities, The Breman Museum, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, and Eternal Life-Hemshech to meet the increased needs of homecare, health care, social services, assisted living support, and financial assistance for Holocaust survivors in our community.

To support this important outreach https://jewishatlanta.org/give/donate/
To learn more about HSSF visit, https://jewishatlanta.org/give/philanthropic-opportunities/hssf/

Ecosystem Update: We’re Still in This Together

By CARING, COMMUNITY

Thinking about our Jewish community as an interdependent ecosystem of organizations, synagogues, schools, and purpose-driven nonprofits — not just a landscape dotted with independent Jewish organizations — was one of the important realignments that came out of The Front Porch initiative that reimagined Jewish AtlantaSince that time, Federation has been convening quarterly meetings of our Atlanta Jewish Ecosystem to share resources and approach issues in a collaborative manner. It has yielded some strong partnerships and insights, especially during the pandemic.

Rich Walter, who leads Federation’s Community Planning and Impact teambelieves the meetings have been very productiveThe last year has amplified the importance of coming together as a community of organizations, both professionals and lay leaders. Through our ecosystem, we have engaged broad number of people to explore issues that we all face as a community, regardless of our individual affiliations. These have included disability inclusion, health and safety, and mental health. The ecosystem is more than a gathering place for sharing ideas, building trust, and developing relationships across the system. It leads to more collaboration and stronger communal approaches to the challenges and opportunities we all face, Walter said. 

For example, Jewish Family and Career Services worked in collaboration with Federation to create a selfcare survey, assessing Jewish community needs as a result of COVID-19. The survey closed last week with more than 500 respondentsThe April 20 Ecosystem meeting will focus on responding to the mental health needs of our constituents, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Preliminary findings of the community survey will be presented and attendees will engage in facilitated breakout conversation to discuss how to best address the needs identified in the surveyThis will be an opportunity to learn more about how organizations can build mental health resilience into future programming and discuss opportunities for community wide mental health initiatives. 

We’ll be sharing the results of the self-care survey more widely and the Ecosystem’s ideas about how to respond to the challenges that surface.  

New Microgrant Cycle for North Fulton & East Cobb: $25,000 is Available!

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

Federation’s Making Jewish Places initiative is entering its third year with a new round of microgrants for North Fulton and East Cobb. Our goal has always been to strengthen connections to the larger Jewish community, stimulate innovation and collaboration, distribute Jewish services across many neighborhoods, and meet people where they are.

Application due April 29, 2021; awards announced May 28, 2021 

https://jewishatlanta.org/what-we-do/our-initiatives/making-jewish-places/ 

Federation grantmaking investments in North Fulton and East Cobb have forged creative partnerships between nearly 30 organizations, all dedicated to enhancing Jewish life outside the PerimeterIt’s exciting to see organizations pool their talents and resources to make impactful Jewish things happen. To date, Federation has awarded 40 microgrants to
organizations and invested: 

  • $98,900 in microgrants 
  • $82,000 for largerscale projects  

For the next round of funding, we encourage anyone who has an idea to apply, whether you come from a large organization, small organization, or no organization at all. Applications are accepted and awarded on a rolling basis, up to $5,000. Questions: Reach out to Carla BirnbaumFederation’s Community Impact Associate. 

Passover: A Time to Ask Tough Questions

By CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need

Passover is a challenging time. It is challenging to meet all the requirements, to prepare for family rituals, to prepare for Passover via Zoom instead of in person, and to balance the material world with the spiritual practice in a society that is not Passover friendly. The Passover Seder is all about asking questions, and it challenges us to ask the tough questions that we might, could, or should ask of ourselves, especially as they relate to tikkun olamrepairing the world. 

Our Passover rituals poignantly remind us that knowledge is not the same as practice. That no matter how much we know, we are still obligated to engage in the practice of the mitzvot whether it is at the Seder table or in our daily lives. And we can expand that practice by asking those tough questions: Are you asking the right questions of yourself and your community, your leaders to combat the injustices around us? What does this time of need due to the pandemic demand of me?

This year the theme of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Interfaith Hunger Seder on March 31 is Our Sacred Obligation: Fighting Food Insecurity. While education and awareness are still key, we will be exploring ways our community fights food insecurity, not just through chesed and giving, but by asking the tough questions justice demands of us, “Why is there food insecurity and what can we do about it?” We hope the Jewish community will join us in looking for these answers on many different levels, not just now, but throughout the year.  

The Passover Haggadah states, “… Let all who are hungry enter and eat and let all who are in need enter to share our Passover.” We have the opportunity, especially in a challenging year such as this, to be grateful for what we have and to challenge ourselves to go further in our Jewish work of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and making the world better and more just. 

Learn more about the March 31 Hunger Seder here.

Charoset Three Ways for Passover

By CARING, COMMUNITY

What is charoset, you ask? Charoset is one of the six ritual foods found on the Passover Seder plate. It’s a paste-like mixture of fruits, nuts, and sweet wine or honey, symbolic of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves when they laid bricks for Pharaoh’s monuments. Sometimes charoset is mounded up on the Seder plate in the shape of Pharoah’s pyramids! 

Charoset is also a food that reflects the diversity and creativity of our people. So, make this the year to expand your palate beyond classic Ashkenazi charoset made with nuts, apples, and wineThere’s big wide world of charoset recipes to try, and we’re excited to share a few delicious variations with you.  

  1. From the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda comes a banana and peanut charoset.
  2. From innovative Atlanta cook Joel Silverman, comes a fruit charoset spiked with miso! 
  3. From the Persian tradition, a richly spiced charoset made with apricots, dates, pomegranate molasses, and more. 

Tziporah Sizomu’s Ugandan Charoset
This recipe comes from Tziporah Sizomu, the wife of the chief Rabbi of Uganda. As a leader in the Abayudaya communityTziporah is responsible for the Shabbat and holiday meals, including the Passover Seder, that brings the Abayudaya together as a community. Thanks to Be’chol Lashon for sharing this content. 

Ingredients
2 cups roasted peanuts (Cashews or another nut or seed may be substituted if allergic to peanuts. Also, peanuts are legumes and some Jews do not eat them during Passover.)
1 apple, chopped fine
1 banana, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sweet wine 

Instructions
Chop the nuts or seeds by hand or grind in a blender and place in a medium-sized bowl. Rural Ugandans use a mortar and pestle. They don’t have blenders as very few have electricity. Nuts or seeds can also be chopped by putting in a sturdy plastic bag and pounded with a hammer or similar tool. Mix with the chopped apples and bananas. Add wine and mix well. 

Joel Silverman’s Miso & Fruit Charoset
Our friend Joel Silverman says, “The best charoset-inspired thing I’ve ever made is this: I took a seven-fruit cooked charoset from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen and cooked it with a sweet white miso that I made myself. The miso added an umami roundness that was mind-blowing. I made the miso from scratch from koji, rice, and soybeans, but any store bought light and sweet miso would work. I especially love Marukome Boy Koji Miso, which they sell at H Mart.[Note that miso is made from soybeans and rice. These ingredients are considered kitniyot,which many Jews avoid on Passover.] This recipe is adapted from “The Jewish Holiday Kitchen” by Joan Nathan,1988. The original does not have miso.

Ingredients
8 oz unsweetened coconut
8 oz chopped walnuts or almonds
1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
8 oz raisins
8 oz dried apples
8 oz dried prunes
8 oz dried apricots
8 oz dried pears
4 oz cherry jam
a little sweet red wine
2 tablespoons Marukome Boy Koji Miso or another sweet light miso

Instructions
Combine everything except the jam and wine in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over low heat. Periodically, add small amounts of water to prevent sticking. Cook at least 90 minutes. When it is cohesive, stir in the miso until it is incorporated and cook five more minutes.  Add jam and let stand until cool. Add enough sweet wine to be absorbed by the charoset and chill.
Yield: 5 cups 

Classic Persian Charoset 

Ingredients
3 dried figs
3 pitted dates
6 dried apricots
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
﷟HYPERLINK “https://amzn.to/31E7pwn”2 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachios + more for garnish
2 tablespoons roughly chopped almonds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons fruit juice just in case mixture is too dry
Dried rose petals for garnish (optional) 

Instructions
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until evenly incorporated. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop all the ingredients finely and stir to combine. 

A Win-Win for Atlanta’s Jewish Professionals and Jewish High Schools

By CARING, COMMUNITY

A group of grateful and generous Atlanta donors have joined together to express their appreciation for the talents and contributions of our Jewish community professionals. These funders are passionate about Jewish education and have chosen to say a collective “thank you” by offering Atlanta full-time professionals working at eligible Jewish nonprofits, up to 50 percent off tuition at these SACS or SAIS accredited Jewish high schools — Atlanta Jewish Academy; The Weber School; and Temima, The Richard & Jean Katz High School for Girls.  

“As funders, and as parents, we believe the high school years are formative. It’s when teens begin to grapple with identity, forge life-lasting friendships, and explore the relevance of Judaism and Jewish values to their lives,” said Helen and David Zalik of the Zalik Foundation. “We’re thrilled that more and more families are discovering the benefits of Jewish day school education and we hope this incentive will have the multiplier effect of encouraging more families to choose a Jewish high school for their kids.

Attracting top talent to Atlanta’s Jewish nonprofits is another priority for the funders behind the Jewish Community High School Tuition Grant. They view the tuition reduction incentive as a strong recruitment and retention tool for Jewish professionals across our organizations. “It’s a professional perquisite that is really a win-win-win. The children benefit from the formative Jewish education. The professionals benefit from the savings. And the schools have an opportunity to both increase enrollment and redirect some potential dollars into quality enhancements,” Helen Zalik said. 

The up to 50 percent tuition reduction is guaranteed for the full duration of the child’s attendance at any participating, SACS or SAIS accredited Atlanta Jewish high school. There is no income cap. Continuation of this program beyond the initial cohort of students will be based on continued community support. The funders hope to help expand this model to other cities nationwide. 

For the 2021-2022 school year, students must apply to and earn acceptance to one of the participating, SACS or SAIS accredited Jewish high schools — Atlanta Jewish Academy; The Weber School; or Temima, The Richard & Jean Katz High School for Girls. If at least one parent is a full-time Jewish professional or educator, then the child may be eligible to receive the Jewish Professional High School Tuition Grant.  

To begin the application process, contact: 

Atlanta Jewish Academy 
Erica Gal, Director of Admissions, egal@atljewishacademy.org678-298-5377 

Temima, The Richard & Jean Katz High School for Girls 
Lora Fruchtman, School Administrator, lfruchtman@temima.org,  404-315-0507 x 104 

The Weber School 
Ms. Rise Arkin, Director of Admissions risearkin@weberschool.org | 404-917-2500 x 117

Atlanta Meets Israel in a JumpSpark Blog

By CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, JumpSpark

JumpSpark’s Amplifying Israel program is all about connecting Atlanta teens with their counterparts in our Partnership RegionYokneam, IsraelLulu Rosenberg, an 11th grader at North Springs High School, is one of five Atlanta fellows in the program. Shaked Nitka is high school student in YokneamIsrael. Both girls are blogging to explore their feelings about what it means to be Jewish, and in the process are illuminating places where they align, and where they diverge a bit, tooHere’s what they have to say: 

Lulu Rosenberg: Whether I am lighting the Shabbat candles, eating chicken soup with matzah balls, participating in a global Jewish youth group like BBYO, or attending a Strong Jewish Women’s Fellowship meeting, there is no doubt that I am connected to my Judaism. Being Jewish is a huge part of my identity and it plays a major role in my daily life. When I wake up in the morning, it’s not like the first thing I think of is being Jewish. But when I come downstairs and see a plate of hamentaschen from my neighbor on the counter, I don’t question it. When I get a bowl for my cereal before I go to school, I make sure to get a dairy one and not a meat one. Leaving my house for school, I pass the mezuzah on the door and walk to my car. I don’t even notice the sticker on my windshield for the Jewish Community Center anymore; it is the same one that practically every other Jew in Atlanta also has. 

I used to go to a Jewish day school where all my friends and most of my teachers were Jewish. Now, I attend public school. My closest friends are still Jewish, but I am no longer in a bubble where Judaism defines my every day. Everyone at school knows I am Jewish, but it doesn’t seem to faze anyone like I expected it to. I’m not even sure how I expected people to act, but for some reason I believed that my Judaism would really matter to others. Lulu’s story continues here.

Shaked NitkaJudaism is a big part of my life, and it is in my daily life almost everywhere, sometimes even without me noticing it. It could be reflected in the Magen David (shield necklace) that I got for my Bat Mitzvah and which I wear all the time, or in the special feeling of a holiday whenever Friday comes. I think the fact that I’m Israeli has a strong connection to my Judaism because in Israel there are many holy places for Judaism that are close to me and that allow me to connect with Judaism and the history of the Jewish people. Also, Israel is based on Judaism and its laws, and the people surrounding me are following those just like me. For example, on Yom Kippur, everything is closed and when I go out on the streets there are lots of people outside riding a bike or meeting each other to spend this time together, which allows me to experience the holiday in a more powerful and special way. 

I’m not in a religious Jewish school, but Judaism is still present. I learn the Bible, and on school trips we go to places that are important to the history of the Jewish people. After school, I usually learn more and do my homework, go out with my friends, or ride on roller skates to a field close to my house where I will read a book or knit. On Friday, which is my favorite day of the week, I help my parents cook Shabbat dinner, and on that day, my brother also comes back from the Israeli army. We all sit down and have Shabbat dinner together. Being Jewish and Israeli is a big and important part of my identity that matters and interests me greatly. I love opportunities like this one (Amplifying Israel teen fellow) that connect me to Judaism. 

The Treasure of Jewish Identity

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PJ LIbrary
by Lynn Sapertstein
As “Grammy” to Jake, Harrison, and their newborn baby cousin, Juniper “June” Graham, I am in my element. And when my husband Jan, or I are reading Jewish themed PJ Library books with them, it’s pure gold!

In Atlanta, free PJ Library books are now mailed monthly to more than 5,000 children. Our grandkids get excited when new books, tailored to their ages, arrive in the mail. When we read together, Jake who is four-and-a-half, will ask about Jewish things I did when I was a young girl, or when his mom was little. I love how 16-month-old Harrison will snuggle in as I read to him about Shabbat and how his eyes shine when we bless the challah.  

We tell stories. We ask questions. When Hanukkah comes and we light the menorah that Jake made, it all comes full circle. The books are springboard for deeper conversations. 

If you have friends who don’t yet know about the PJ Library hope you’ll join me, and a group of grandparents and PJ Library “connectors,” at a virtual information session, Wednesday, March 10 at 4 pm. It’s a great opportunity to learn how PJ Library teaches about holidays and traditions with a gentle Jewish touch that’s perfect for all families. 

Throughout the pandemic many of my friends have not been able to see their grandchildren. They are using FaceTime and Zoom not just to chat, but to read PJ Library books with them! The books are fun and colorful, and you learn along with your grandkids. In families where one parent or grandparent is new to our faith, PJ Library books are a safe and comfortable way to learn and grow in observance. 

I’m firmly of the belief that if you want to have a grandchild who loves Jewish traditions, and who understands Jewish values, you must put in the effort. Grandparents have a unique opportunity to show that Jewish identity matters. When we model Jewish values and traditions, they endure beyond our generation, beyond our kids’ generation, down to the grandkids. That is incredibly powerful!

Through PJ Library books we also have aopportunity to model Jewish generosity. It costs $40 a year for each child to have a PJ Library subscription. While the books are mailed for free, the program is not self-sustaining. I’d love to see grandparents with grandkids in Atlanta (or even out of town)become champions for PJ Library by supporting it with their donations so that more families can share the treasure of our heritage. 

Register here