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Planting Seeds for Future Generations

By CARING, COMMUNITY

Growing up in the tight-knit Jewish community of Charleston, South Carolina, Ellen Arnovitz learned early on that serving, leading, and giving were priorities in her family. All four of her grandparents were immigrants from Russia and Poland. “We were not the big givers in our community,” she says, “but we were always involved. My father was a synagogue president. My Aunt was the first woman president of our local Federation.”

In her teen years, Ellen’s leadership role in the southern region BBYO chapter frequently brought her to Atlanta. “I absolutely loved the energy and vibrancy of the big city!” She eventually moved to Atlanta and raised her family here. Today she is the proud matriarch of a blended family of 13 grandchildren, 11 of whom live in Atlanta, and two in London. More and more, leaving a legacy is on her mind.

“My kids are the beneficiaries of everything this Jewish community offers — our Jewish day schools, Jewish camps, the MJCCA, and our synagogues. How could I not put my energy into making sure that these organizations survive and thrive for future generations? Through Atlanta Jewish Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY initiative, I’ve enjoyed helping people think creatively about how to structure legacy gifts.”

“We’ve all seen those astonishing stories about people of modest means who steadily put aside funds for something they cared about, and then when they passed, they made incredibly meaningful gifts. You don’t have to be wealthy or old to leave a legacy, you simply have to have the intention. That’s why it’s so rewarding to speak with young couples who are still saving for college and building their nest-egg and explain that they can project their generosity forward. When I tell them that a small life insurance policy set aside today as a legacy gift can grow into something big in 50 years, they get excited.”

Years ago, as a participant in the Wexner Heritage leadership cohort, Ellen wrote an ethical will. “It was the first time I really thought about legacy giving. It made me reflect on what values I wanted my kids to remember and was very clarifying.”

“I continually ask myself, why am I so lucky? When you have had a full and blessed life like mine, you want to share and invest in the community’s future. It not only helps to build a vibrant Jewish community for future generations, it enriches your life now. Through I have learned that sharing is a mindset. Giving back to the community and helping others is the legacy I want to pass on to my children.”

Camp is for Families!

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PJ LIbrary

Family Weekend: Passover Edition April 1-3

Jewish camp isn’t just for kids anymore, it is for entire families! Federation wants you to experience the fun, freedom, and Jewish community that a camp retreat can create at Family Weekend: Passover Edition, April 1-3 at Ramah Darom.

Family Weekend is an early Spring retreat tailored for families with children ages 0-5, with a focus on fun activities to help families get ready for Passover. Activities will be specifically geared for little ones, with plenty of opportunities to be outdoors and connect with nature. You’ll spend time crafting, cooking, creating, and learning more about the traditions of Passover. There will also be enriching adult experiences, all in a beautiful camp atmosphere that is relaxed and casual.

With help from Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the cost for the entire weekend is just $400 – an incredible price that makes it possible for whole families to attend. We are proud to partner with these organizations to bring you this weekend: 18Doors, Be’Chol Lashon, Ma’alot Atlanta, PJ Library Atlanta, and the Israeli American Council.

Making an Impact in a Crisis

By CARING, COMMUNITY

By Matt Bronfman, Federation Board Chair
Part of the premise of the Federation is to have an organization that is ready to step in when emergencies arise. Federation has the infrastructure, the relationships, and the know-how to make a difference quickly. That is what the Federation did during Covid when we raised over $4 million in a few weeks and distributed it right away to those in need. That is what we are doing right now with the Ukraine Emergency Fund which has already raised more than $1.1 million in humanitarian aid for the Jews of Ukraine.

As the situation in Ukraine deteriorates, the 200,000+ Jews across Ukraine are truly in peril.  Our campaign directs %100 of funds to our on-the-ground partners, JDC, World ORT, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. It’s gratifying to see Federation play such a crucial role in marshalling significant resources. As we said when we launched the 2022 Community Campaign, Federation is built for this!

Built for This

By CARING, COMMUNITY

For generations, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has cultivated worldwide partnerships supporting Jews and their loved ones around the world. With your dollars, and our incredible partners, Ukrainian Jews have never been forgotten.

  • Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta — allocated more than $3.6M in 2021 to support Jews and Jewish life around the world  
  • Jewish Agency for Israel — brings Shlichim (emissaries) to Ukraine, runs Sunday programs, brings Ukrainian youth to Israel for immersive programs, and supports the Aliyah of Jews. 
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) — supports multiple Hesed centers across 1000 locations, supporting the most vulnerable people of Ukraine, runs JCCs and Jewish youth programs to help younger generations reimagine Jewish life where it once was all but decimated. 
  • World ORT — plays an important role in the renewal of Jewish life through Jewish day schools, vocational training, and more. 

All this work happens because of you, and because of our collective 115-year commitment to Jews and their loved ones throughout greater Atlanta, Israel, and the world.

Your Astounding Support for the Jews of Ukraine

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Eric's Blog

On Friday afternoon, February 25, when it was clear that a full-on Russian invasion of Ukraine was underway, Federation launched its Ukraine Emergency Fund. Literally within minutes of sending out our email appeal, Jewish Atlantans responded. Hundreds of donors opened their hearts and supported the campaign with incredible generosity and passion. As of this morning, donations exceed $589,000. I believe we are well on our way to raising at least three quarters of a million dollars.

I am also tremendously moved by what donors said inspired their gift.

“I am confident that funds will go to the correct areas if handled by Jewish Federation of Atlanta.”

“I want to help the Jewish community in Ukraine. My ancestors are from Belarus and I feel closely connected to those in Ukraine.”

“For too many years we Jews could not defend ourselves. Now we can, and we must!”

“The people of Ukraine need our help now more than ever to defend against an unhinged autocratic despot bent on destroying democracy.”

In another gesture of generosity, I am proud to share that several members of Federation’s Jewish Commercial Real Estate Network (J-CREN) pooled their funds to create a match so that 100% of every donation up to $180K be doubled for Ukrainian humanitarian relief.

Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) will oversee and distribute the funds to our on-the-ground overseas partners: the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), World ORT, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. And 100% of all these emergency contributions will be transmitted to our overseas’ partners.

The Ukraine Emergency Fund demonstrates that this magnitude of response is exactly what we are built for. Nobody can marshall significant resources, and quickly and effectively deploy them the way Federation can!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your bold and brave response that manifests our shared Jewish values. Kol yisrael aravim, zeh ba zeh. All of Israel is responsible for each other.

Join Team “Feederation” at Hunger Walk Run

By CARING, COMMUNITY

 

Sunday, March 6 | 12-4 pm | Home Depot Backyard
Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Hunger Walk Run benefits local hunger relief organizations  that operate and support hundreds of food pantries, shelters, community kitchens, senior centers, and childcare centers across metro Atlanta and North Georgia. For the past 37 years, the Atlanta Jewish community has always been a superstar in its success. Last year 25 teams representing the Jewish community raised $107,393.72 — more than any other partner!

So, put on your walking/running shoes and join Team “Feederation” for a fun and meaningful afternoon of live music, food trucks, camaraderie, and exercise. Whether you participate individually, on a team, in person, or virtually, you can make a huge difference for families, children, and seniors struggling with hunger in our community.

Jewish Abilities Alliance Celebrates Very Inclusive People

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Jewish Abilities Alliance

Atlanta is blessed to have many remarkable advocates for people with disabilities and many programs that include people of diverse abilities in all aspects of Jewish Life. The Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA) calls them VIP’s — Very Inclusive People. We are highlighting their commitment to inclusion all month long.

Dr. Melissa Wikoff, Au. D | Audiologist, Peachtree Hearing

“Working with individuals with hearing impairments, you naturally have an aspect of inclusion in your everyday life.” Dr. Melissa Wikoff, Au.D. takes inclusion to the next level by routinely advocating for her patients and the hearing-impaired community. Since starting her practice, Peachtree Hearing, Dr. Wikoff has founded a program to provide free hearing aids to Holocaust survivors, she has overseen the installation of two Hearing Loops in local synagogues, she advocates for students with hearing impairments in local schools, and she serves on the inclusion committee at Etz Chaim.

MEET MORE VIPs

Why I’ll Always be a Camp Guy

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Eric's Blog

February is JDAIM, which stands for Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, Inclusion Month. It’s also the time of year we launch our Start a Campfire Campaign to support scholarship for Jewish overnight camp. I hope you’ll support them both!

I am singling out our Jewish camps for special praise because they are places where disabilities are not seen as obstacles. They are places where bullying is never tolerated and where all kids are liberated from the cliques and social rules that operate during the school year. In this way, camp is a sweet taste of olam ha ba, the perfect world we yearn for.

I got my first real glimpse of what inclusion looks like at Camp Barney Medintz when I worked in the kitchen. It was the best job I ever had at camp, and it taught me what is really involved in feeding several hundred campers and staff members three times a day — incredible focus and hard work! To see Scott Hyman, a person with disabilities, lead in the kitchen with competence and a strong work ethic, totally inspired me.

Our camps don’t merely pay lip service to inclusion, they model it. Camp Barney’s Chalutzim program for campers 10-22 years old with special needs has been nationally recognized since it was established in 1992. Camp Ramah Darom also prioritizes inclusion and launched its Yofi program for Jewish families with children on the autism spectrum years ago. It has become a national model for inclusion in a camp setting. The MJCCA’s Chaverim day camps include staff experienced in working with children with special needs, low camper-to-staff ratio, and access to camp activities. Chaverim campers run the camp Shuk, modeled after an Israeli marketplace, fostering independence, communication, and camper confidence.

Our Jewish Abilities Alliance has reached more than 1,000 day camp and overnight camp counselors and staff through its trainings, so that these values of compassion, understanding and inclusion endure all year long.

From my years as CEO of Camp Twin Lakes and directing the Isabella Freedman retreat center, to being a camper and a counselor myself, I’ve seen miracles at camp. That’s why I’ll always be a camp guy!

For the Love of Jewish Atlanta

By CARING, COMMUNITY

Carol Cooper to be Federation’s Lifetime of Achievement Award Recipient
Federation is delighted to announce that Carol Z. Cooper will be the recipient of the 2021-2022 Lifetime of Achievement Award.

The oldest of the three daughters of Doris and Erwin Zaban, Carol was born into a family that literally shaped and built Jewish Atlanta. Carol has said, “Atlanta was much smaller when I was growing up. There wasn’t the philanthropic infrastructure we have today. If the Jewish community needed something, the leaders got together, talked about the need, and raised the money. My father didn’t tell me how to live philanthropically. He lived, and I had the privilege of watching him do it. He set the example.”

This imprint inspired Carol Cooper to blaze her own unique path. She took the baton of leadership with excitement and passion. Her love of the Jewish community has been the driver of her volunteerism. Federation is honoring Carol not because of who her father was, but because of all that she is — a mentor, an advocate, and an architect of our community’s future.

Carol is a past president of both Jewish Family & Career Services. Carol has served on countless committees and boards and spearheaded many initiatives in our community. Along with her sister Sara Franco, and Ilene Engel, she is a founding trustee of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.

Carol Cooper will be honored, along with other community leaders, at Federation’s 2022 Annual Meeting, Wednesday June 1, 2022. We will share more details about this event in the coming months.