Category

CARING

NextGen Steps Up

By CARING, COMMUNITY, NextGen

In partnership with Repair the World Atlanta and Shalom Corps, NextGen is excited to launch a virtual volunteer program to bring together young adults to work with seniors living in assisted living and skilled nursing and rehabilitation homes. COVID-19 has brought many challenges, and one we continue to see are the effects COVID-19 have on seniors who are living in assisted living. It’s not as easy for families to visit, and technology can often be challenging to navigate.

We’re launching a handful of ways for NextGen in Atlanta to make a different. You can create playlists and listen to the music with a resident – often a source of conversation and happiness. You can talk to a resident and work to capture their history through a conversation – there is nothing families value more than having stories written down to share with future generations. And we can’t forget about the amazing professionals who have worked day in and day out during COVID to bring fantastic care to residents – we’ll be working on ways to send them exciting surprises to thank them for their care.

Registration will open soon. Please fill out the interest form below and we will be in touch when we launch our first round of volunteer activities.

Mississippi Jewish Childhood Inspires 25+ Years of Giving

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

Growing up Jewish in rural Cary, Mississippi, in a cotton farming family, Deborah Lamensdorf Jacobs quickly understood that she was a living exemplar of her faith. She reflects, “It was really an honor to represent Judaism in our small community. The way we treated our neighbors underscored what we believed in. We valued education and opportunity. At my father’s funeral two years ago in Vicksburg, a man came through the receiving line and told me how when he was trying to raise funds to establish the Cary Christian Health Center to help minorities, the churches turned him down. My uncle and my father were the first ones who stepped up to fund the center. That’s an early example of how I saw philanthropy as a child. It was how we lived our values.”

Years later, as a young woman, that imprint remained strong. Deborah ventured to Atlanta and quickly became involved in Jewish organizational life. While volunteering at a Federation phone-a-thon, a single guy named Lou Jacobs asked for her phone number. They married soon after and together raised a family whose life was enriched by synagogue, Jewish day school, Jewish camp, BBYO, and the MJCCA, to name just a few. No surprise then, that for more than 25 years the Jacobs have made their largest annual gift to Federation. As a Silver Circle donor Deborah says with pride, “Life showed me that Jews are community builders — people who see a need and fulfill it. That’s the spirit of Federation.”

Have you made your 2021 Community Campaign pledge yet? Donate here.

Mircrogrants Generate Amazing Collaborations!

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

Federation’s Making Jewish Places (MJP) continues to foster community partnerships like never before! In our latest round of microgrants, we’ve invested $25,500 into the North Fulton/East Cobb community, by green-lighting an array of collaborative proposals that meet Jewish needs around mental health support, communitywide holiday celebrations, young family programming, and adult education. It’s exciting to see organizations pool their talents and resources to make impactful Jewish things happen.

“With this latest round we have also grown our partnership network to nearly 30 unique organizations creating meaningful Jewish opportunities in North Metro Atlanta,” said Danniell Nadiv, Senior Director of Jewish Journeys, Places and Welcoming. For information on the next round of MJP microgrants, contact Carla Birnbaum. Anyone can apply, whether you come from a large organization, small organization, or no organization at all. Applications are accepted and awarded on a rolling basis, with awards of up to $5,000.

OUR NEWEST GRANTEES

  • Amy’s Holiday Party$5,000 to engage teens in the planning of the annual party that serves underprivileged children. With COVID-19, individual experiences are planned and implemented for all the agencies who normally attend Amy’s Party. Both North Fulton cohorts of Creating Connected Communities will develop and implement these experiences.
  • Blue Dove Foundation — $1,500 for community discussions on the emotional impact of COVID-19, including a multi-synagogue discussion surrounding Blue Dove’s Quieting the Silence book on mental health and addiction in the Jewish community.
  • Hanukkah House Challenge $5,000 for a Hanukkah program for the entire North Fulton community. This HGTV inspired competition involves 80 families who received an edible Hanukkah house kit to create and submit for judging. The winners will be announced at a virtual Hanukkah party hosted by the Bible Players. This celebration is a joint program of Congregation Gesher L’Torah, Congregation Dor Tamid & JumpSpark.
  • Keshet Ofek of North Fulton$3,500 Supporting a program and platform that empowers young Israelis and Jewish American families to connect and learn Israeli culture and Hebrew language. Interactive sessions will follow CDC safety protocols.
  • Mezuzah Project$5,000 for Gary Rosenthal hiddur mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) mezuzah art kits. This program encourages families to create artistic mezuzot for their homes. Participants have the unique opportunity to attend a workshop with Mr. Rosenthal. Joint project of Temple Beth Tikvah & Congregation Dor Tamid.
  • Support Group for Parents who Have Lost a Child to Suicide — $1,500 to an individual applicant for this important community support group. JF&CS will be partnering with an individual in the community for this support group.
  • PJ Library Family Microgrants — Microgrants of $100 each awarded to 35 families and neighbors for small holiday programs occurring round Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Havdalah or Shabbat.

Mitzvah Expo — $1,500 to help Atlanta Mitzvah Connection build a website that will help b’nai mitzvah age teens explore projects that benefit our community, presented in a virtual Expo. Jumpspark helped facilitate this discussion, which included several non-profit leaders and participants.

 

Pivoting from Fashion to Service

By CARING, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, People in Need

Pivoting from Fashion to Service
by Deborah Plotsky

I spent the first seven years of my career in fashion, but I’ve always had another passion for food and gardening. In 2019, after seven years of attempts to grow basil and compost in my tiny New York City apartment, I decided it was time to return to the hometown of my alma mater, Atlanta. I convinced my company to let me work remotely in Atlanta and decided I would find a more food or earth-focused job once I got here. Before I even really began networking in my new city, COVID-19 struck and left me jobless for the first time in my adult life. In good company and in the face of an overwhelming wave of need, I saw it as an opportunity to finally redirect my time and attention to a career of service.

It was all quite serendipitous; I happened to run into Claire, a Repair the World Fellow, at my community garden, she happened to mention Serve the Moment, a program that mobilizes young adults to engage in critical racial justice work, tackle food insecurity, strengthen our education system, and combat social isolation. And I happened to apply right on the application deadline. I knew it was my moment to pivot my career, but I knew no one in the field in my new city. Serve the Moment came to the rescue. After explaining my interests, my city coordinator paired me with Wholesome Wave Georgia, a nonprofit that facilitates access to and awareness of healthy food for all Georgians in need through local farmers and community partners. I’ve specifically focused on building a program to offer highly discounted Thanksgiving produce and protein boxes to families receiving SNAP food assistance. I’m able to leverage my relationship building and program management skills from my fashion career to deliver nutritional, sustainable food to the community in Atlanta.

Serve the Moment has been an excellent crash course into food injustice and the extreme needs in my community. Aside from my work with Wholesome Wave Georgia, we have weekly national and city learning sessions. Coming from a completely different background, the national fsessions with Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger are invaluable to me. At the local level, last week, we had the director of Grove Park Renewal talk to our city cohort about gentrification and how they’re working to protect citizens’ historic homes. I’m getting both a macro and micro view of the needs all around me while building a network of changemakers in my community.

The Jewish teachings of Tikkun Olam are at the root of this work. I’ve been able to meet people in my community who dedicate their lives to leaving this world better than how they found it. Together, we are able to spread the message and the work in a meaningful way. I’m so thankful for my Serve the Moment experience, I know it’s just the beginning of an impactful service-oriented career for me and perhaps even more importantly, the foundation of my new community (and especially the Jewish community) in my new home.

About Serve the Moment: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Repair the World and a coalition of partners created “Serve the Moment.” This part-time program connects Jewish young adults and college students (ages 18-29) to meaningful service and learning to address the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout, and the current movement for racial justice. Corps Members earn a stipend for 10 hours a week volunteering with service partners, and an additional 2 hours a week elevating their professional skills and accelerating their personal growth through virtual learning sessions. Applications for the spring cohort open December14 https://servethemoment.org/join-the-corps

JFF EXPANDS ITS REACH

By CARING, INNOVATION, JEWISH JOURNEYS, People in Need

It is a great heartache to want a child and not being able to conceive. Whether you are a couple or an individual wanting children, it is utterly demoralizing to see others sail through pregnancy when you cannot, and it is agonizing to discover that many reproductive technologies are financially out of reach.

It took a local Atlanta innovator, Elana Frank, to bring insights from Israel, where IVF treatments are affordable, back home to Atlanta where she launched the Jewish Fertility Foundation (JFF). Over the course of five years, this Federation Innovation grantee has had outsized impact on our Jewish community. JFF provides financial assistance, emotional support, and education for those in the Jewish community facing medical infertility. JFF’s mission and ambition is exactly what we look for in an Innovation grant recipient — a remarkable idea with potential for great impact in the Jewish world, and a team with genuine dedication to its success.

“With our initial grant from Federation Innovation, we were able to create a program which is literally now being implemented across the country” says Elana Frank. “We believe in partnerships, and that community investment is so important to our process. Innovation in Atlanta has gotten us where we are today.”

Elana and her team have more than delivered, and we won’t apologize for the pun! We’ve watched the Jewish Fertility Foundation enable the birth of 49 babies (so far!) and blossom into a network of support that is scaling beyond Atlanta. We continue to be inspired by their tenacity. With our support JFF was initially able to create a community support program specifically for the Atlanta orthodox community, as well as establish Fertility Buddies, an emotional support program which has been replicated nationally and continues to grow.

Since their first round of funding, JFF has been able to substantially expand their reach throughout the Jewish community, offering emotional support and resources for single mothers, multi-faith couples, and all those facing fertility challenges. “The Jewish Fertility Foundation embodies what we hope for in a grantee relationship at Innovation” says Jori Mendel, VP of Innovation. “We share the same belief in the power of community as JFF. Their contributions and participation in offerings like Path by Plywood and Propel grantee mentor cohorts show that working together makes us all stronger in our endeavors. JFF’s continual growth and success is a testament to that.”

Young Adults “Serve the Moment” for Older Adults

By Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need

Following a highly successful summer of service, Atlanta’s Serve the Moment program has now mobilized a fall cohort of young adults to address the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout, and the movement for racial justice here in Atlanta.

Sarah Arogeti is one of the cohort members, and she has chosen to serve through virtual visits with older adults who have been living socially isolated lives at two Jewish HomeLife residences, Berman Commons, and the William Breman Jewish Home. Due to COVID-19, Jewish HomeLife residences have not allowed visitors for many months and are only beginning to facilitate limited socially distanced in-person family visits in outdoor spaces.

Cory Shaw, who manages volunteers for Jewish HomeLife Communities, was skeptical at first. “I had my reservations about how effective virtual visits would be, but Sarah has made it a ‘natural thing.’ She has jumped in and asked our residents lots of questions about their families, where they grew up, memories of great places they’ve traveled, and helped them feel ‘connected’ and appreciative of their lives. The impact has been HUGE!  in just her first six days Sarah visited with 18 residents — only two were repeat visits. Serve the Moment’s “get-to-know-you visits” have been a wonderful antidote to feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

Serve the Moment received $60,000 to run a Summer and Fall Service Corps with Repair the World, and is now working with more than 15 service partners.

 

Melton for All! New Class for Adults with Diverse Learning Needs

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Jewish Abilities Alliance

The MJCCA’s Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning is extremely proud to have one of the largest Melton adult learning programs in the world! The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is the largest pluralistic adult Jewish education network in the world, and now it is pioneering an inclusive class for Atlanta adults who have diverse learning needs.

“My passion for adult Jewish education extends to include all adults, so I was thrilled when Lisa Houben, Federation’s Community Training and Inclusion Coordinator at the Jewish Abilities Alliance, approached me to engage in this initiative. To my knowledge this has never been done with the Melton community before,” said Talya Gorsetman, Director of the Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning. “We loved the idea of an inclusive and multi-sensory format that would embrace neurodiversity, so together with the Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA), we’ve created a six-session class that begins in November.”

The class, which is supported by the Glen Friedman Bnei Mitzvah fund and Jay and Judy Kessler, will be taught by Rabbi Steven Rau, RJE, Director of Lifelong Learning at The Temple. He is the author of Everyone is Welcome: Creating a Culture of Inclusion in Congregational Schools and has been a Melton faculty member for 10 years. For more information about the class please contact Talya Gorsetman, 678-812-4153.

Sharing The Same Moon. Sharing Our Lives.

By CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, PJ LIbrary

All Jews share the same lunar calendar, and now twelve families from Yokneam, Megido, and Atlanta have officially begun sharing the moon! The project began two months ago to bring us together at a time when social distancing keeps us even farther apart. Working with our Partnership region, we paired Israeli families with families in Atlanta to build bridges.

Through letter writing these families are collaboratively building an interactive book together called The Same Moon. It tells the story of two families who live on opposite sides of the ocean who get to know each other by sending handwritten letters and photos throughout the year. The book features pockets where one can store the letters as a way to personalize the book for each family. Every month the book prompts the families to share something different about their lives — their hobbies, interests, holiday celebrations and traditions, favorite recipes, and more.

Katie Guzner, a PJ Library Co-Chair, loves the program. “We read PJ Library stories about Israel with our kids and tell them about my Birthright trip, and when my husband, Gennadiy, lived in Megiddo. Now our kids get to share stories with a family in Israel. It’s so precious to receive a letter from our pen pal family and for our girls to learn that we have so much in common.”

Emergency Training Saves Lives

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Secure Community Network

Thanks to a generous donor, Federation’s Community-Wide Security Program will now provide free Stop The Bleed kits to each of our community organizations. The kits will be strategically placed throughout their facilities so that in an emergency, any person can render aid before a professional first-responder arrives. A person who is bleeding can die of blood loss within a few minutes so knowing how to control bleeding can truly save lies.

To receive their free kits, organizations must agree to participate in our free Stop the Bleed Training and Countering Active Threat Training. Both classes are offered through Federation’s partnership with the Secure Community Network and are led by Neil Rabinovitz, Community Security Director, and Zach Williams, Deputy Community Security Director. Training can be done either in person (in accordance with current CDC COVID-19 guidelines), or virtually if preferred.

Training builds community resilience. We want to train our community to “Commit to Action” if faced with any type of active threat, including an active shooter. In multiple active threat incidents, from Pittsburgh to Monsey, survivors have credited training with saving lives. For additional information on the training classes or to schedule training, contact Neil Rabinovitz or Zach Williams.

Anyone Can Be A Philanthropic Champion

By AgeWell Atlanta, Aging, Atlanta Jewish Foundation, CARING, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

Anyone Can Be A Philanthropic Champion 
By Etta Raye Hirsch

One of the best things that has happened in Jewish Atlanta is the consolidation of resources that make life better for older adults. Finally, with AgeWell Atlanta, we’ve pulled together all the supportive programs of Jewish Family & Career Services, the care of Jewish HomeLife, and the social opportunities of the MJCCA, into one entity. It took guidance from Federation to spearhead the effort, but the result is a much-needed coordination of services that makes me really proud! 

With the pandemic, our older population is struggling as never before. If you don’t make it easy for people to find the help they need, they give up. Now through AgeWell Atlanta, if you’re a caregiver or an older adult needing help, you just dial one number 1-866-AGEWELL and you can speak to a real live person who can guide you to the right resources. It’s just what our community needs now.  

For me, philanthropy is both a habit and a family imperative. Our family foundation is something my grown children are involved with as decision-makers, and something my grandkids are becoming well aware of. If you want to know how to leave your necklace to a family member, your attorney or financial advisor can set that up. But if you want to truly be a change agent, become an investor in the things you really care about. You can be a philanthropist at any level! 
I give to a wide range of nonprofits in our region, yet I rely on experts to advise me on my gifts. In truth, Atlanta Jewish Foundation (AJF) has educated me about opportunities I didn’t even know existed. I’m almost embarrassed to mention this, but I was “old” before I even knew what a donor-advised fund (DAF) was! Now I use my DAF as a tool for making grants and I want everyone to know about them. We have to say to folks, “Let’s make philanthropy easy for you.  

Atlanta Jewish Foundation makes it simple to support AgeWell Atlanta, and other older adult supportive programs, through your donor-advised fund. The Foundation can also guide you on how you can make long-term “legacy” commitments through the Jewish Future Pledge and the LIFE & LEGACY program. Both are vehicles to build up endowment reserves in our synagogues, schools, and organizations, to sustain their future. I’m on board!  

There are many ways you can donate, but why not do it through AJF? I can make grants online, or just call the Foundation and say, “Here’s where I want my gift to go, and they take care of it. They have the right people with the right skills and relationships to connect the dots and really amp up your impact.  

Etta Raye Hirsch was Atlanta Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2019 Philanthropist of the Year. She currently serves as Honorary Chair of Federation’s AgeWell Atlanta Targeted Philanthropy giving opportunity.