Please place this tag on thank you pages for tracking conversions, please make sure this tag is fired after the primary tag: Skip to main content

Looking Toward 5784

By Eric's Blog

By Eric M. Robbins

As we stand at the precipice of 5784, a year brimming with promise and opportunity, I’m reminded of the boundless potential residing within each of us. It’s a time to reach for the stars, to be the best versions of ourselves, and to realize the dreams we hold close to our hearts. In our tight-knit community, there are no limits to what we can achieve, especially when we join hands and work together. 

Let’s embark on this new year with a fervent drive to propel our community campaigns to new heights. Let’s dream boldly of a world-class Jewish cultural center in the heart of Midtown, a vibrant hub that celebrates our rich heritage and fosters unity. May we send more children than ever to Jewish summer camps and day schools, nurturing the future of our faith. And let’s recognize our role in addressing the mental health crisis, extending compassion and support to those who need it most. 

Our unwavering love for Israel remains a steadfast commitment. As Israel grapples with its own set of challenges, we stand by its side, demonstrating our unbreakable bond. Through unity and determination, we can navigate the path to a brighter future. 

In the face of antisemitism, let us stand together as an unyielding force, unwavering in our resolve. We are a community that refuses to tolerate hate in any form. By uniting against prejudice and bigotry, we send a resounding message that love, acceptance, and understanding will always prevail. 

Now is the perfect time for personal reflection and growth. What do we aspire to be more of? What do we aim to shed from our lives? How can we nurture our spirituality and contribute to a better world, starting within our own families and community? These questions guide us on a journey of self-improvement, forgiveness, and growth. 

As we step into 5784, let our unity shine as brightly as the stars in the night sky. Together, we illuminate the path forward, creating a future filled with hope, love, and boundless possibilities. 

May this Rosh Hashanah be a time of renewal, self-discovery, and unshakeable unity. Here’s to a year of infinite promise and the realization of our most cherished dreams. 

Atlanta Rides for the Living

By Eric's Blog

By Eric M. Robbins

I had the privilege of participating in the Ride for the Living in Poland earlier this month, along with a delegation of 12 Jewish Atlantans, including my 17-year-old daughter, Sasha. This deeply meaningful experience commemorates the Holocaust and celebrates the rebirth of the Jewish community in Krakow, Poland.

As we embarked on the 60-mile bike ride from the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow, we were immersed in the rich tapestry of Krakow’s Jewish past, present, and future. The journey was a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of the Jewish community. Before we began the ride, a survivor of Auschwitz inspired us with a meaningful message, urging us always to be on the lookout for injustice and intolerance in the world.

During the closing ceremony on Sunday, July 2, we had the honor of witnessing the reopening of the JCC Krakow Senior Club kitchen, which had undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to the generous sponsorship of Atlanta’s very own Marcia and Mark Miller. Their involvement made it possible for the kitchen to be rebuilt from scratch, making it more accessible and better suited to the needs of Krakow’s most treasured community members—the Holocaust survivors and Ukrainian refugees who use the JCC every day.

Witnessing the impact of Marcia and Mark’s compassion and support was truly heartwarming. It reminded me of how the work we do in Atlanta stretches across the globe, connecting hearts and bridging communities in the most meaningful ways.

If you would like to be a part of the 2024 Ride for the Living and Jewish Culture Festival to have this experience first-hand, I encourage you to reach out to Robin Sysler at By doing so, you’ll join a community of passionate individuals ready to honor history, celebrate life, and continue making a positive difference in the world. Together, we can create lasting connections and contribute to a brighter future for all.

We’re Almost There

By Eric's Blog

By Eric M. Robbins

Our Community Campaign ends June 30th, and today, I am filled with gratitude.

I’m so proud of our community, which came together and met our funding goals for the 2023 Community Campaign—a 5% increase from last year. This will allow us to increase our allocations to our partners, and nothing feels better than that. Thanks to this growth, we are able to fund some new initiatives in the next financial year, including Bagel Rescue and the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University-Breman Museum Teacher Ambassador Program for Holocaust Education.

So many exciting things are happening in our community right now—our camps are full, our day school staff are preparing for the next semester, and our preschools have waiting lists this fall. I and several other community members are headed to Poland to participate in Ride for the Living to help Holocaust survivors still living in Poland, as well as refugees from Ukraine. It means so much to me to carry the banner of Jewish ATL across the globe and show the world the vibrancy and strength of our community.

But even as we celebrate reaching our milestones, we know there is so much more that needs to be done, and so many initiatives that could use Federation’s backing. There is still time to donate before our Campaign closes, and I hope you will. The work we do is only possible because of your support. Thank you for all you do for Jewish ATL.

This Year, In Jerusalem

By Eric's Blog

Shalom! We just finished Federation’s long-awaited Community Journey, and I am writing this piece while I am still here, in Israel. To be here on the cusp of the country’s 75th birthday is almost unimaginable. A place that, at least my entire life, we always talked about, dreamed about, and worried about, is really 75. It’s a modern country now, full of life and diversity and all the complexities that come with that. 

It’s truly an honor to be here with so many members of our community. It’s been wonderful to have 10 of our communal rabbis, many of the heads of our Jewish agencies in Atlanta, and so many of my colleagues from Federation on this trip. This is a very diverse group of people from our community, including observant individuals and more secular individuals, those on the right and those on the left, gay and straight, first-timers and people who have visited Israel multiple times, old and young. It’s a beautiful representation of JewishATL. 

While we are visiting here during a very intense political moment, it has not impacted the experience. I’m especially proud of the options we have given participants. I spent one day on a hike that was absolutely beautiful, to a part of Israel I never been to. I spent another day visiting sites like Caesarea with first timers, and another visiting places like the Israel Blood Bank, which was a vision of our very own Marcus Foundation in Atlanta. It’s been beautiful each evening to come back and feel and hear the buzz of everyone bragging about the experiences they had through various eyes around this wonderful country. 

We started this trip on Holocaust Remembrance Day. We heard from Dr. Rachel Korazim, who is a Holocaust expert, and she framed the importance of this day in profound ways. In addition to recognizing the continued trauma the Shoah has caused our people. She also gave us context for understanding the division in the country right now and helped us to recognize the importance of understanding the perspective of other people before you judge their opinions. For instance, a Satmar Hassid in 1930’s Europe saw the world very differently than a secular Jew in Budapest. It reminded me that listening and understanding others is more important than judging others on perspectives that don’t align with mine.  

Another highlight on this trip was when we visited our partner city in Yokneam. We each visited with local families and were welcomed into their homes. It was wonderful to have open conversations with these families and be welcomed into their homes with their families to share a meal. They are families just like ours in Atlanta, trying to make sure their families feel connected to their Jewish identities. There’s so much we can learn from one another and it’s so beautiful to have these relationships. 

The importance of our community visiting Israel is not just to experience it, but to bring it home. Half of the Jewish world is in Israel now, and it’s so important that as we build a Jewish future in Atlanta, we have a living bridge to Israel. We are one family living in two different places and we must be connected. The only way we will be connected is through peoplehood, and that means relationships of people to people.  

As Israel has reached the age of 75. It’s more important than ever that the Atlanta community spend time strengthening their ties to Israel and understanding its history, its challenges, and its opportunity to be an important force to the future of the Jewish world as we know it. It must be a part of all our educational experiences, and it must continue to be a part of our philanthropy. We are so blessed to be living in an age where we can celebrate Israel’s 75th and still live free as a vibrant Jewish community in a city like Atlanta. Let’s continue to build and strengthen this bridge in every way that we can, and let’s come back here as often as we can.  

Eric M. Robbins is the President and CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta


By Atlanta Jewish Foundation, CARING, COMMUNITY, Eric's Blog, GLOBAL JEWRY, INNOVATION, Jewish Camp Initiative, JEWISH JOURNEYS, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY



Antisemitism’s rise endangers all of us

By COMMUNITY, Eric's Blog

By Eric M. Robbins as originally featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution

One of the most dangerous undercurrents in the midterm elections was the rise in antisemitic rhetoric by some political candidates. In a country where we have witnessed celebrities like Ye (Kanye West) and athletes like Kyrie Irving publicly attacking Jewish people, it is sad to see some of our political figures and public officials continue to fail to condemn those actions and call out racists and those who propagate hate.

In the past few years, we have experienced the mainstreaming of antisemitism — from the Charlottesville rally to, horrifically, shootings in Pittsburgh and Dallas. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has played a leading role in the fight against antisemitism, recently reported that antisemitic incidents in the metro Atlanta area have doubled in 2022 from 2021.

According to the ADL, which fights all forms of antisemitism and bias, there is particular concern on college campuses, where there were 359 antisemitism incidents during the 2021-2022 school year. Indeed, during this year’s annual University of Georgia versus University of Florida football game, the words “Kanye is right about the Jews” were projected on the side of the stadium and on other buildings in downtown Jacksonville, Fla.

Antisemitism is being keenly felt on college and university campuses. College students report that anti-Zionism on campuses is rampant and that non-Jewish students conflate their feelings about the Israeli government with their feelings about their Jewish classmates.

Indeed, Jewish students are not only facing more prejudice from fellow students, but in some cases from faculty.

In September, it was reported that the University of Vermont is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education after a teaching assistant threatened to give Zionist students lower grades.

In an effort to help combat the increase of antisemitism on college campuses, particularly in Georgia, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has partnered with the Hillels of Georgia, part of Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. Hillel gives Jewish students a community on campus and tools to help them better address antisemitism from their peers. The Hillels of Georgia immediately reached out to officials at both the University of Georgia and the University of Florida following the incident at the football game to help mitigate the situation’s impact at both schools.

Combating antisemitism is a community effort and something that the Federation cannot do alone. We rely on our partners like the American Jewish Committee to engage with ethnic, religious and political leadership. We need the Anti-Defamation League to work with law enforcement as well as provide a host of education services and research resources that track extremist groups, ideologues and hate on digital platforms.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta meets regularly with leaders of Atlanta’s faith communities, and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association helps to inform our broader Jewish community.

Our ability to work together to advance this mission of ridding the world of antisemitism is important for our broader community.

The Federation also helps to fund the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Israel Campus Fellows program, which brings Israeli young adults to work on university and college campuses in the United States. Through this initiative, more Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are exposed to Israeli people to help diminish stereotypes and foster increased personal relationships with the people of Israel.

In partnership with the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, the Federation’s Community-Wide Security Program helps protect the entire Atlanta Jewish community, including schools, camps, synagogues and other local Jewish organizations.

This year, the, Federation helped local organizations secure $2.3 million in security enhancements.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) is an initiative through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It provides support for physical security enhancements and activities, including planning and training, to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack due to their ideology, beliefs or mission.

Jewish people are vibrant, diverse and strong, having overcome obstacles and survived tumultuous times. We are a part of the fabric of life in Atlanta and across the country and we are passionate Americans and believers in our democracy.

History continues to teach us, as Abraham Lincoln said long ago, that our country will not stand if it is divided. Hate for one group doesn’t just impact its members, it can and will tear us all down.

Stand with us to fight antisemitism and prejudice and hatred. Now is the time to rally together to protect the freedoms we all love as Americans, for each and every one of us.

My Rosh Hashanah Reflections


It’s the start of a new year, 5783, and I find myself asking, “Where do we go next?”

A new year offers a blank slate, a chance to make one’s mark. After the tumult of the last two years, the unknown can be intimidating. But when I think of how Atlanta’s Jewish community has handled recent challenges, I feel ready to face the new year and whatever it brings.

Last year, we faced many challenges that still aren’t resolved. The war in Ukraine isn’t over—every day, thousands more people are forced to leave their homes or to wonder where their next meal will come from. COVID isn’t over—new variants continue to put people at risk, and the pandemic has changed our world in many ways that we cannot yet define. But I also know that our commitment to each other has not ended.

Over the last two years, I’ve seen priorities shift for individuals and organizations. Many things we used to want are no longer relevant, and our focus has shifted. In times of crisis, we see what’s most important: safety, security, and health. The Atlanta Jewish community has stepped up in a monumental way to care for one another, as well as people in need all over the world.


So where do we go next? I hope we continue to put each other first. I believe in working towards an aligned community that pursues common goals. At Federation, we speak of “meeting the moment” and being ready when a crisis emerges. The moments we have faced in the last two years are bigger than Federation, or any one organization. And I have been so moved by the power of Jewish Atlanta when these moments occurred.

5783 holds many unknowns, but we will meet them together. That is the power of community.

L’shana tovah,
Eric M. Robbins

Camp is such a special time for kids


When you think of “summer camp,” what comes to mind? Swimming, singing songs, roasting marshmallows over a fire?

When I think of Jewish summer camp, I think of smiling faces. Camp is such a special time for kids—it gives them space to grow and learn, and introduces them to lifelong friends. Those bonds, and the joy they bring, are the hallmark of summer camp.

Last week, I had the immense pleasure of visiting Camp Coleman on Camp Kindness Day. After two tumultuous summers disrupted by Covid-19, Jewish summer camps are once again thriving.

Covid proved an enormous challenge for our camps. Staffing issues, kids leaving early—kids having to quarantine at camp! Our camp professionals deserve recognition for facing these challenges and making sure their campers had fun while still being safe.

This summer, our camps are seeing pre-covid registration rates. Camp Coleman was buzzing with excited energy, alive with laughter. All day, I saw children helping each other, making each other laugh, creating memories they’ll never forget.

Camp isn’t just a couple weeks or months; it’s an experience that changes kids and impacts them for the rest of their lives. Camp Kindness Day is a chance to celebrate the hardworking pros who make camp happen, and it was my honor to share it with them.

Meeting the Moment Together


Summer is here and July lies before us with its promise of fun, family, travel, and leisurely light-filled nights. Friends, we have earned it! As Campaign 2022 closes, I am buoyed by the satisfaction of knowing that our Jewish community has again gone above and beyond to meet human needs in Atlanta and around the world.

It wasn’t easy. This year, unanticipated issues hit us relentlessly — the refugee crisis in Ukraine, deadly antisemitic acts in the U.S. and around the world, serious challenges that continue to face us in the aftermath of COVID-19, and the opportunity to reunite Ethiopian Jews with their loved ones in Israel.

None of these issues are “over.” All of them will require ongoing philanthropic support. But there is no denying that in 2022, Jewish Atlanta met the moment! Here are the incredible numbers:

  • The Partners Fund, which supports local, Israel, and overseas needs, is to exceed its ambitious goal of $14.2M.
  • Thousands of you stepped up to raise more than $2.6M supporting the urgent needs of Ukrainian Jews through the Ukraine Emergency Response Fund.
  • Today, as Ukrainian evacuees make their way to safety in metro Atlanta, you continue to support them through Atlanta Ukraine Relief Assistance AURA, in collaboration with our partner, Jewish Family & Career Services.
  • Atlanta Jewish Foundation fundholders sent grants of more than $51.7M to 1,169 grantee organizations. Atlanta Jewish Foundation fundholders directed 80% of their grants to Jewish organizations, and 70% of those dollars stayed local.
  • Funding for special projects in education, mental health, housing for older adults, support for Holocaust survivors, feeding the hungry, responding to antisemitism, and more, added significant revenue to Federation this year.
  • We tallied $23.5M in total philanthropic dollars, which includes direct fundraising, incoming grants, and donor advised funds.

With passion and purpose, Jewish Atlanta demonstrated its ability to pivot, to raise funds, and strengthen our people. I have never been prouder of us. Thank you.


Thanks to MJP, Atlanta is Full of Welcoming Jewish Places.


Wherever I go in the Federation world, people ask, “What’s that thing you’re doing in Atlanta with neighborhoods and mini grants? Something about Making Jewish Places?”

I’m genuinely proud to explain that here in Atlanta we have been inspired by a city planning concept called “placemaking” that reimagines and reinvents public spaces to help people connect, work, and play together in new ways. Since 2019, with generous funding from the Helen Marie Stern Memorial Fund, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has embraced placemaking through an initiative called Making Jewish Places, or MJP. It captures a couple of bold ideas:

  1. That people don’t always need brick and mortar spaces to do Jewish things together.
  2. That at a grassroots level, people have great ideas about what builds Jewish community and social connection. We can empower them with mini-grants.
  3. That even in metro areas lacking Jewish density, when people and organizations work collaboratively, they can dramatically deepen Jewish relational engagement.

I see MJP as a radical revamping of engagement from transactional to relational. It has a couple of unique components. MJP invites ordinary community members, (including PJ Library families and our NextGen constituents) to apply for small microgrants of $180 called Gather Grants. MJP also offers larger organizational grants for collaborative projects. Either way, funding supports whatever holiday celebrations, community service projects, and other ideas local groups can conceive. Federation professionals provide support and mentorship to help actualize whatever they dream up. It is bottom-up grantmaking offering a radically different model of how Federation can operate.

Our MJP grantees say it best:

“We are new to Atlanta and know very few people. Without the Gather Grant I would have been too shy to invite new people over. I’m so glad I did, as it seems to be the start of a new social circle for me.” — Gather Host

“This year was the first year we built a sukkah in my backyard thanks to this grant funding!” Shira Colsky – NextGen Grant Recipient.

To date, MJP activity and grantmaking has focused on two geographic areas, North Fulton, and East Cobb. The feedback from grant recipients has been enthusiastic and most people express a measurably strengthened commitment to Jewish life in their neighborhoods. Through MJP over 8,000 individuals have attended 250 unique programs, 78% of which were collaborative. Our grassroots approach has built a new level of trust and goodwill between Federation and suburbs outside the perimeter (OTP). We have learned that when organizations are in relationship with their community members and with one another, the whole ecosystem thrives.

This year, Federation successfully ran four rounds of Gather Grants, with our Shabbat Gather Grants currently in progress. We are immensely proud of the diversity in the age ranges, zip codes, languages spoken, and level of observance of the grantees.

Decatur is likely to be the next MJP target area. We are beginning a “soft launch” of outreach and activities to amplify the Jewish assets that already exist in Decatur and are excited to bring MJP’s collaborative energy to an area that we believe is ripe for engagement.

MJP is something I am personally proud of. It represents this Federation’s fearlessness about trying new things. You can reach out to our MJP professional, Carla Birnbaum, to learn more about MJP possibilities. And if you missed it in Fed5 last month, listen to Danniell Nadiv, Federation’s Senior Director of Jewish Journeys, Places and Welcoming, talk about the power and potential of Making Jewish Places.