Federation is always striving to connect Jews around the world. No matter what part of the globe someone calls home or what other communities we are a part of, we are all family. During this fall season, Federation has been part of two special shabbat celebrations meant to bring people together.
On September 23, the Friday before Rosh Hashanah, Federation participated in a Global Shabbat service with our partner community in Minsk. Rabbi Grisha Abramovitz, who serves 12 congregations, hosted participants from all over the world in a Zoom service to usher in 5783.
Six communities from Belarus were represented on the call, as well as the chair of the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) in Toronto and the VP of the WUPJ in Jerusalem. The WUPJ was founded in 1926 and promotes modern interpretation of Jewish life and identity in any place Jewish people choose to live. The organization “represents 1.8 million Reform, Progressive, and Liberal Jews across six continents, 50 countries and 1,200 communities.”
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta supports the Sandra Breslauer Beit Simcha Center in Minsk through an allocation from the Partner’s Fund. This chapter is particularly focused on engaging young people to help families and entire communities become more involved in Jewish life. Federation gives funds for summer camp programs, B’nai Mitzvah, and early childhood education.
Deborah Jacobs, of Federation’s Global Allocations Committee, attended the service and gave greetings at the beginning of the program. Following the event, she said, “The renaissance of Judaism in Minsk and Belarus after the dissolution of the Soviet Union is inspiring. The efforts led by Rabbi Grisha are both intentional and innovative as they create multi-generational Jewish identity, worship experiences, and education.”
Susie Mackler, Peoplehood Manager at Federation, was moved by the special service. She took several screenshots during the event. She loved getting to see “their community members, just like ours—children, young adults, seniors, families with young children, a young woman celebrating her bat mitzvah tomorrow—blowing the shofar, blessing the challah. Even so far away, our communities are so similar.”
Another unique celebration took place October 7th at Piedmont Park—Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta celebrated Pride Shabbat. While most of the country celebrates Pride in June, Atlanta’s local Pride month is in the fall.
Rabbi Joshua Lesser, who organized the evening on behalf of Federation, expressed, “This was a groundbreaking evening bringing us closer to being an unabashedly warm and inclusive community.”
Hosted by Federation and SOJOURN, the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, the Shabbat experience gathered over 120 people from all over Atlanta to celebrate Shabbat in Piedmont Park. The service featured Rabbis Ariel Wolpe (Ma’alot), Joshua Lesser, Lauren Henderson (Or Hadash), Mike Rothbaum (Bet Haverim), Ruth Abush Magder (B’chol Lashon) and Elizabeth Breit (B’nai Torah).
The fall holiday season has been a wonderful time to think about our connections—to Atlanta Jews, and to Jews around the world. In this season of holidays and commemorations, it is important to be intentional about our relationships and to celebrate together.