Category

COMMUNITY

What will you do this New Year?

By CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY, Uncategorized

Wishing each other a sweet and healthy Jewish new year is traditional on the high holidays. But this year, it’s not enough! Jewish hopes and needs in a COVID world are poignant and powerful.

In a year unlike any other, your gift to the 2021 Community Campaign really can make hopes and dreams come true. So many are counting on us. Please give to the 2021 Community Campaign today!

New MJP Grant Recipients

By COMMUNITY

                                   Program to be Funded                                                                             Microgrant Recipient

Israeli Scouts – Scholarships for families in need Tzofim – Israeli Scouting Program
Nourishing the Soul: Conversations for Jewish adults Nourishing the Soul: 18 Doors, MACoM; Rebecca Gordon, Gesher L’Torah; The Jewish Bridge
North Fulton Treasure Hunt PJ Library
Combat COVID-19: Masks for Youth & Teachers Individual
Travel to Israel Virtually with the Atlanta Israel Coalition (AIC) Atlanta Israel Coalition & Jewish Moms of Atlanta
Shabbat in the Hood Food with Purpose
Jtext JSU Jewish Student Union
Israel Scholars Fellowship Jewish Student Union
Jewish Fertility Foundation Expanding Services in North Fulton (and Beyond!) Jewish Fertility Foundation
North Fulton Couples: Conversation Virtual Workshop Series 18 Doors and Honeymoon Israel
Meet Me in the Sukkah Temple Beth Tikvah

Even Alone We Can Pray by Rabbi Lauren Henderson

By COMMUNITY

I remember my first high holidays away from home when I went off to college. There was a synagogue right across the street from campus, so I walked through the doors on Erev Rosh Hashanah and eagerly found a seat in the first row, ready for whatever new experience was coming my way. 

I quickly found out that I didn’t know any of the tunes, and no one said a word to me the whole time. I was crushed. I went back to my dorm room and decided I wasn’t going back the next day, that I’d rather just spend the day isolated in my room instead of feeling alone in a room full of people. 

Surprisingly, even though the rabbis push us toward davening in community whenever possible, the strongest models of real prayer in our tradition are of people praying alone. Chana, from the Rosh Hashanah haftarah (the reading from the Prophets linked to the weekly Torah portion), becomes the rabbis’ paradigm of what real prayer can be — crying aloud, speaking words of desire and longing straight from her heart, no minyan (quorum of 10 people needed for prayer) required. Her frustration, her anger, her despair, everything she’s feeling in that moment reaches a breaking point and spills over into prayer, as she realizes how much she wants her situation to change and how little power she has to make that reality possible.  

So many of us are carrying the weight of loss coming into these high holidays, along with our longings for what this experience should have been. Even if we’ve been telling ourselves for the last few weeks that these high holidays aren’t going to feel like last year’s, those expectations are hard to set aside.

But – I know that real prayer and connection are possible, even when we’re alone. And perhaps because we’re alone, new possibilities will emerge that wouldn’t have been accessible if we were all together in one space. May your new year be full of discoveries that bring you closer to community and closer to your own heart. Shanah tovah.

Rabbi Lauren Henderson is the new rabbi at Congregation Or Hadash. She comes to us from Chicago where she served as Mishkan Chicago’s Associate Rabbi and Director of Family Learning and Spirituality.

New Ideas for the Jewish New Year: Innovation In Worship For 5781

By COMMUNITY

Your support for the Community Campaign ensures the existing programs and services our community relies on, and it is also a catalyst for new ideas through Federation’s Innovation Fund. This year, as we approach the Jewish high holidays, there’s been so much creativity right here in Atlanta.  Because we can’t sit close together, sing together, blow the shofar in small spaces, or give each other happy hugs, our community leaders have amped up their creativity. You’ll be amazed by the unique ways this community is leapfrogging virtual limitations to personalize high holiday worship.

Your Jewish Bridge, funded by a Federation Innovation Propel grant, provides access to Jewish educational, life cycle, pastoral and rabbinic services to the unaffiliated Jewish community on a fee-for-service basis. Right before the high holidays, Pamela Gottfried, a rabbi at Congregation Bet Haverim and Your Jewish Bridge, is hosting a (virtual)  9/11 observance where she will livestream the ritual of “taking challah” on Congregation Bet Haverim’s YouTube channel. It involves separating a small piece of raw dough and burning it as a remembrance of the sacrificial offering in the Temple in Jerusalem. The ceremony will be in honor of those lost during the 9/11 attack, as well as those lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the high holidays, Rabbi Gottfried will lead several discussions and sessions to enrich the meaning of the season. See the full schedule here.

 

Kenny Silverboard: A Community Campaign Champion

By COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

Kenny Silverboard, who leads our Business and Professionals division, is a veteran of many Federation Community Campaigns, yet he’s anything but blasé about his sixth one. Today, as the 2021 Campaign opens, Kenny cannot wait to engage with the community. “In a town full of transplants, I’m a Jewish unicorn — an Atlanta native son (Morningside Elementary School, Grady HS, Georgia State) with deep ties in the Jewish community.”

“Though the pandemic has taken away face-to-face events and large meetings, I believe there‘s a much deeper understanding of Federation’s value to the community now. Our donors saw us take the lead with the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which allowed our partners to deliver essential services and keep their doors open. They know we support the entire community, as well as needs in Israel. I know from the bottom of my heart that the community will step up for the Community Campaign to sustain the whole ecosystem for today and the future.”

Asked how he “trains” for the Community Campaign, Kenny says, “I live by the words of Mark Twain: Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life. “Because I love what I do, I take what we do seriously, while not taking myself too seriously.”  Kenny is ready to receive your 2021 pledge: contact him at ksilverboard@jewishatlanta.org.

New Ideas for the Jewish New Year: Innovation in Worship for 5781

By COMMUNITY, INNOVATION

Your support for the community campaign has been a catalyst for new ideas through Federation’s Innovation Fund. This year, as we approach the Jewish high holidays, there’s been so much creativity right here in Atlanta.  Because we can’t sit close together, sing together, blow the shofar in small spaces, or give each other happy hugs, our community leaders have amped up their creativity. Inspired by local leaders and by Federation Innovation initiatives, you’ll be amazed by the unique ways this community is leapfrogging virtual limitations to personalize high holiday worship.

Your Jewish Bridge, funded by a Federation Innovation Propel grant, provides access to Jewish educational, life cycle, pastoral and rabbinic services to the unaffiliated Jewish community on a fee-for-service basis. Right before the high holidays, Pamela Gottfried, a rabbi at Congregation Bet Haverim and Your Jewish Bridge, is hosting a (virtual)  9/11 observance where she will livestream the ritual of “taking challah” on Congregation Bet Haverim’s YouTube channel. It involves separating a small piece of raw dough and burning it as a remembrance of the sacrificial offering in the Temple in Jerusalem. The ceremony will be in honor of those lost during the 9/11 attack, as well as those lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the high holidays, Rabbi Gottfried will lead several discussions and sessions to enrich the meaning of the season. See the full schedule here.

Federation Innovation has made exciting things like this happen all over Atlanta. For the 2021 Campaign you can amplify your support and seed new ideas by designating a gift for Federation Innovation. Here’s how.

Congregation Gesher L’Torah is innovating with Kol Nidre Under the Stars, a drive-in worship experience. Cantor Zeldin and Rabbi Bernstein will Livestream the service from the sanctuary to your home, or the big screen. Experience the haunting melodies and the powerful message of Kol Nidre in a whole new way.

Temple Sinai is doing “Experience Tashlich” with socially distant tailgating at The Springs Cinema & Taphouse Drive-In Theatre. Bring your own tailgate setup, sit on the roof of your car, or simply tune in to the service from the comfort of your car via the FM station. Join us at 5:30 pm for music with Beth Schafer followed by the service beginning at 6:00 pm. Each car will receive a dissolvable paper to write your sins. Sinai staff, wearing necessary PPE, will anonymously collect these and bring them to flowing water to complete the mitzvah of Tashlich.”

Congregation Shearith Israel is offering socially distant gatherings in various neighborhoods on the afternoon of the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah (Sunday, September 20) so that people can see each other. They are also asking members to create VIDEO HUGs — 15-second video messages to be shared with the CSI community. Congregants are also turning photos of themselves into 3-D cutouts that “sit” in the pews to give the clergy a sense of support and community as they lead services.

Limmud Atlanta + Southeast has created High Holiday Journey in the Park: An Outdoor, Multisensory Experience, September 13, at Mason Mill Park. Timed entry, between 9:45 am and 4:00 pm allows individuals or groups of seven or fewer to take part safely. Using a mini-golf model, participants will move through five stations that safely combine Jewish wisdom with sensory experiences. Sign up here. For all ages!

Turning Summertime into Service Time

By CARING, COMMUNITY

As young adults watched their summer camp jobs, internships, study programs and travel plans unravel due to COVID-19, a nationwide collective of Jewish service organizations (including Federations) had a flash of insight. Why not mobilize young adults, ages 18-29, to spend four weeks this summer engaged in social justice projects focusing on people disproportionately impacted by the pandemic?

Thus, Serve the Moment was born in 10 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, with Repair the World taking the lead in recruitment. Lily Brent, executive director of Repair the World, accepted the challenge and helped put together Atlanta’s cohort of nine young adults who worked on food justice, education, mental health support, and more.  The program was so successful it is now recruiting candidates for the fall. Stipends of $500 a month are provided to help offset personal costs.

“It’s been really rewarding to hear how meaningful Serve the Moment has been, both for the Corps Members who volunteered, and the organizations they served. I got multiple emails rolling in from both sides about how this program filled a need, bringing together a cohort of young people, connecting them to purpose and to each other.”

Corps members filled their time with direct or virtual service, plus learning sessions on social justice taught by nationally known guest speakers.

Marius Karolinski hails from Massachusetts, but now lives in Atlanta. His placement was with Concrete Jungle, where he worked on the food pantry team and organized fruit picks in the area. He joined Serve the Moment hoping it would help him gain experience and professional development in the food-related field he wants to pursue. Marius enjoys working in his kitchen and spends about 10 hours a week cooking or baking. This Fall, he will be working as a teacher for a local Jewish Kids group and working with WUNDERGRUBS, a sustainable alternative protein company.

Others worked with the JF&CS Kosher Food Pantry, Second Helpings, and Blue Dove Foundation. Kayla Cohen, Atlanta’s Serve the Moment coordinator, said the program also filled a big social need. “Corps members really bonded as a group, helping each other counter COVID isolation and meeting new friends from out-of-town schools.”

If you are looking to volunteer while learning about social inequities and systemic injustices (racial justice, food justice, and education justice, Serve the Moment is looking for young adults (ages 18-29) to serve alongside community partners from September 30 to December 11 in a part-time fellowship program. Learn more here: https://www.tfaforms.com/4841213.

Atlanta Welcomes New Leaders in Jewish Education

By COMMUNITY, Uncategorized

Atlanta’s supplemental Jewish education programs look quite different these days, and it’s not just because they are adapting to a pandemic. In several prominent programs throughout the community, there are fresh faces who assumed new leadership roles during this challenging and exciting time. We extend a warm welcome to the following dedicated and talented Jewish Educators: 

Sharon Graetz is the new Education Director at Ahavath Achim Synagogue. Sharon is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, with M.A.’s in Jewish Education and Jewish Nonprofit Management.  Sharon has a wide range of experience, from programming at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, to being part of the leadership team at Jewish Kids Groups in Atlanta. Most recently, she enjoyed her role as Limudim Director at IKAR in L.A., collaborating with students, staff, and families to revitalize kids’ learning. Sharon is driven by her passion to infuse deep Jewish learning with positive and fun experiences. Sharon is drawn to project-based learning, a method in which students take the lead in their education, responding to authentic and engaging questions. She is excited to offer a vibrant program at AA with opportunities for students to engage in real-world and meaningful projects with the goal of making Jewish tradition relevant and inspiring. 

Amy Cooper Robertson, Ph.D is the new Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Or Hadash. Amy began her career in academia, earning a PhD in Religion/Hebrew Bible from Emory and teaching Tanakh, Judaism, Biblical Hebrew, and critical thinking and writing. Amy later shifted her focus to Jewish communal work and has found that the intersection of community building, program leadership and Jewish learning is her favorite place to be. Amy served as the Education Director and later the Executive Director at Congregation Bet Haverim, taught Judaics at The Davis Academy, served as Rosh Chinuch at Camp Havaya in the Poconos, and tutored many b’nai mitzvah students.  She is passionate about projects of “practical innovation” – identifying and addressing the barriers that keep Jews from engaging more deeply with learning and community. Amy is very happy to be back in an educational leadership role and is excited to begin a new chapter at Or Hadash

 

Jewish Kids Groups has three new Site Directors! 

Jordana “Joey Heyman is JKG’s new Brookhaven Director. Joey has committed nearly two decades to Jewish education, working in both teacher and administrator roles in overnight and day camps, day schools, and youth groups. Joey earned a Masters in Experiential Education from American Jewish University and completed a post-graduate fellowship in Jewish Education and Advanced Jewish Studies through the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem before moving to Atlanta, where she is consistently inspired by our broad and innovative Jewish community. Joey is passionate about helping people find themselves in Judaism and brings a focus on community building and conflict resolution to JKG.

 

 

Gabe Monett is JKG’s new Decatur Director. He has spent the majority of his postcollegiate career creating Jewish community for all ages. Through his roles with Jewish organizations including Repair the World, Ramah Darom, and Moishe House, he has honed his passion for connecting and bringing people together. A local Atlantan through and through, Gabe grew up in the Emory area and attended the Paideia School for thirteen years before earning a Film Studies degree from Georgia State University. 

 

 

Sivan Abada is JKG’s new Sandy Springs Director. Sivan is involved in communication with families, planning, curriculum development, team management, administration, and program initiatives. Sivan was born and raised in Israel. Following her service in the IDF, Sivan studied Behavioral Sciences and graduated from Ariel University. She has an extensive background in human resources management. Her interest in education grew when she was an instructor in Israeli summer camps, where she planned creative activities for children. Sivan brings her passion for camp-style education, love for Israel, and her unique teaching philosophy to the JKG community.

 

 

Michelle Erste is the new Director of the Mitzner Family Religious School and Family Programming at Temple Kehillat Chaim. Michelle has been a Jewish educator for seven years, serving as a religious school and Hebrew teacher at Kehillat Chaim for children in Pre-K through 7th grade. Having already invested many hours in lesson planning, preparation, and teaching, Michelle loved the idea of being able to have a larger role in her children’s – and all of TKC’s children’s – Jewish education. She grew up in the congregation herself, and she was thrilled to step up to assume a larger role in the education program and to give back to her community. Michelle is especially excited to use her marketing background to help Kehillat Chaim grow and thrive! 

 

 

Hope Chernak, RJE, is the Interim Education Director at Temple Kol Emeth. Hope earned an M.A. degree in Religious Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and the title Reform Jewish Educator (RJE). She was a 2016 recipient of the Grinspoon North American Award for Excellence in Jewish Education and received a certificate in Israel Education from the Center for Israel Education in 2016. She also has a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Marketing from Webber International University. Hope has worked in Jewish education for over twenty years. Prior to joining Temple Kol Emeth, she served as the founding Executive Director of JUMPSPARK: the Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative (AJTI), and Chief Programming Officer at the MJCCA. In New York City, she served as the Managing Director of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) and the Director of Youth and Informal Education & Israel Programs at Temple Shaaray Tefila. Originally from Orlando, FL, Hope spent eight summers on staff at Camp Coleman.Hope is thrilled to have joined the team at Temple Kol Emeth, to partner with the rabbi, leadership and staff to support and build upon the education program’s exceptional foundation. 

HAMSA Responds to COVID-19 Addiction Spike

By COMMUNITY

Between March-May 2020, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported a 3% average weekly increase (over the same months in 2019) in the number of drug and/or alcohol-related ER visits, and a terrifying climb in opioid-related overdose deaths.   The call volume at JF&CS’s HAMSA program (Helping Atlantans Manage Substance Abuse) reflects the trend. HAMSA is seeing a 40% surge in calls from families who are not only seeking support and treatment for their loved ones, but for themselves. Coping with a family member’s addiction is never easy, and the isolation that comes with COVID-19 complicates access to treatment.  

Right now, we are all experiencing the pain and isolation inflicted by COVID. These feelings are especially dangerous for people with substance use disorder (SUD). They may be quarantined and unable to make the vital human connections that help maintain recovery, which may lead to relapse and increased use. Addiction is called a “family disease,” and being confined at home with loved ones who are in active addiction may create even greater stress within the family system.   

HAMSA frequently receives calls from Jewish parents who ask to remain anonymous or don’t want to share their contact information. They are fearful that someone will find out their child is addicted to drugs or alcohol and that their family will be judged. Drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths, which have tragically impacted many Jewish families, are now the leading cause of preventable injury and death, eclipsing auto accidents and gun violence. These deaths are avoidable when we begin to understand addiction as a treatable disease.   

HAMSA is helping to find and create safe spaces that bring connection, understanding, and hope. Many family and parent peer support groups are still meeting via Zoom, and HAMSA can help you find them. The JF&CS clinical team provides individual and family counseling, offers a group for spouses and partners of a person with SUD, and a new parent group will begin in the fall. Navigating the world of addiction treatment can often feel overwhelming for parents and families, especially during the pandemic when the options are more limited. JF&CS’s free Information and Referral Service can help you identify the right treatment options that meet your needs and resources. It also provides free Narcan (opioid overdose antidote) training and supply to the community, as well as outreach and education.  

In response to the increased needs of families, HAMSA welcomes David Sheff, author of the best-selling book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, August 20 from 7-8 pm, for a free event via Zoom. Sheff understands the stigma and shame Jewish families feel when a child is addicted. His book describes the years he walked the rocky path that ultimately led to his son Nic’s recovery. The presentation will include intimate conversation about the dynamics of addiction in families. Sheff ultimately found hope and healing by sharing his story and connected with thousands of families just like his own. Reserve your free ticket and learn more at jfcsatl.org/davidsheff 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and needs help finding resources or support, call 1-833-HAMSAHELPS or visit HAMSAHELPS.org