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April 12 Federation Five

By Federation News

JScreen, a recipient of the Federation’s Jewish Innovation Fund, is a genetic screening and education program that offers comprehensive at-home testing on saliva. In 2019, Federation’s Innovation initiative funded JScreen’s pilot project, “CancerGEN,” an innovative genetic test that identifies changes associated with increased risks for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as various types of cancer such as breast, prostate, and colon cancer. With Federation’s support, this initiative has expanded, including cost-saving opportunities for our NextGen age group through carrier screenings.

Karen Shmerling and her daughter shared that their JScreen test unveiled a genetic revelation that prompted them to devise an action plan. “Michelle volunteered for a BRCA study held by JScreen, a test that literally saved my life and Michelle’s,” recalls Karen. Karen urges everyone, regardless of gender, to undergo genetic testing, emphasizing the importance of having a choice before cancer dictates it for them.

CLICK HERE to learn more about JScreen and your options for testing and read more about Karen and Michelle’s story here.

JumpSpark, Federation’s Jewish teen initiative, is uniquely positioned to create positive environments where not only Jewish learning happens, but also mental health and wellness can flourish. JumpSpark recently brought in BaMidBar, an organization that works to ensure that Jewish youth and young adults have the confidence, skills, and community support to navigate life’s challenges and thrive in the face of adversity.

This in-person learning experience for Jewish teen professionals was an opportunity to expand their understanding of mental health and wellness through a Jewish lens. Professionals explored ways in which they can foster social and emotional growth in the young adults they serve and build the tools and supportive network they need to actively promote resilience and help their students thrive.

Federation’s JumpSpark initiative brings a strong culture of collaboration and strength amongst youth-serving professionals in Atlanta by providing them with relevant and tactical professional development opportunities that they can apply in their daily lives.

Jewish Abilities Atlanta grants support community partners in launching projects that create more inclusive and accessible communities for people with disabilities. Grantee, Ahavath Achim Synagogue, recently received funds to install an adjustable torah table that enables people of all statures and in wheelchairs to read from the Torah. They also installed an automatic door opener which enables those with disabilities easier access to the sanctuary. The synagogue staff shared that the JAA grant is far greater than the grant itself. The door not only gives disabled members easier access to the sanctuary but also creates greater independence and an overall positive experience for the person using the door opener. These installations provide the synagogue with an opportunity to educate their youth in areas of kindness while actively improving the physical access to the sanctuary and elevating the entire spiritual worship of the congregation.

Federation’s Jewish Education Collaborative is constantly working toward improving supplemental Jewish education in Atlanta. JEC elevates Jewish education as a communal priority by improving teacher quality and investing in talent, exploring innovation, strengthening collaboration, creating networks, improving where and how Jewish learning is experienced, and changing perceptions about Jewish education.

One of its latest initiatives, BOOST Micro-Grants (Building On Our Strengths Together) is intended to grow and enhance nascent educational programs and help creative ideas move from the pilot phase to model status. Sometimes all it takes to transform programs from “good” to “great” is a little BOOST! Grants range from $500-$2,500.

FY24 Grantees Include:

  • MJCCA– Launching a new “Reading the Omer” program for children and families throughout the community
  • Temple Beth Tikvah– Launching a new serious of Religious School Family Shabbat programs throughout the year
  • Congregation Gesher L’Torah– Launching a new series of Gesher Limmud Family Education programs
  • Diamond Family Religious School at Temple Emanu-El– Launching a new series of Honeybee Jewish Environmental Education programs
  • Temple Kahillat Chaim– Creating a new outdoor classroom for Jewish learning programs
  • Congregation Shearith Israel– Launching a new Chugim Elective program in the Machanei Shai religious school

As a community that believes in the value and importance of Jewish education, it is heartwarming when we see the impact Jewish learning has on young people. Davis Academy graduate Vivian Kohn recently presented a Ted Talk on the topic of “Igniting the Ruach Within”. During these 10 minutes, she beautifully shares her perspective on being a Jewish young person, her experience as a student in Israel at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, and her reflections on Oct 7.

Last year, Federation invested more than $1.2 million dollars into Jewish education including its allocation to Vivian’s alma mater, Davis Academy. Federation is also committed to growing the number of teens who take part in an immersive Israel experience like Vivian did when she attended the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI). AMHSI is a part of RootOne, a partner of Federation’s, which provides $3,000 vouchers for eligible programs to teens in Greater Atlanta.
CLICK HERE to see Vivian’s Ted Talk.

To learn more about opportunities for teen experiences in Israel, email Atlanta’s RootOne Shlicha (emissary), Lior Fridman, at [email protected].

Important Update on Federation Leadership

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Atlanta Jewish Foundation, Federation News

Eric Robbins, who has served as the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta for eight years, has announced his resignation and will be stepping down. Eric has graciously agreed to stay on board through June 30th to support a smooth transition and will continue as an advisor to Federation as needed.

Eric has many notable accomplishments but more than anything, he has brought the Atlanta Jewish community together like never before. He has been a leader in the Jewish community through an extremely challenging past five years managing the organization through world events including the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Shooting, COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and most recently, the massacre of October 7 and the ongoing war in Israel. We are grateful for Eric’s leadership through these unprecedented challenges.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has been the philanthropic heart and soul of the Atlanta Jewish community for more than a century. A committee led by Debbie Kuniansky, Matt Bronfman, and other regional leaders will soon commence a national search for a permanent CEO who will help innovate and accelerate our mission and vision and help to build the infrastructure needed for a thriving Atlanta Jewish Community for the next 100 years.

In the coming weeks, we will connect with all community stakeholders to answer questions, discuss any needed transition plans, and more.

Beth Arogeti, Board Chair, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

March 15 Federation Five

By Federation News

Federation is thrilled to announce that Jack Halpern will be the recipient of the 2024 Lifetime of Achievement Award!

Jack’s dedication to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta for nearly four decades, coupled with his leadership roles and transformative initiatives throughout our community, makes him a most deserving recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His impactful contributions extend to The Epstein School, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, and the Southeast Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, where he has demonstrated unwavering commitment and received prestigious honors. Jack’s advocacy for social justice through the Anti-Defamation League underscores his remarkable legacy of service.

Jack’s award will be given at the Annual Meeting on Monday, June 3 at 7 pm at Temple Sinai. (Registration information to come soon). We look forward to celebrating with Jack and Jewish ATL!

Grow a Legacy, which took place on Thursday, February 29th at Ahavath Achim Synagogue, was a huge success! With 180 people in attendance, it was a wonderful gathering in celebration of our community’s commitment to philanthropy, legacy giving, and a commitment to a thriving Jewish Atlanta. The evening’s speakers, Ted Blum, Jenny Levison, and Mike Leven, all shared heartfelt stories of their childhoods and parents, and how their upbringing influenced their philanthropic visions. The program, which was Emceed by the hilarious local comedian, Amanda Marks, left everyone feeling inspired, uplifted, and confident in our Jewish community’s future.

Since October 7th, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has stood as a beacon of strength and compassion both for Israel and our local community. Our fundraising initiatives have been nothing short of remarkable, raising millions locally and contributing to a national effort to address urgent needs in Israel.

Though our work is ongoing, we have produced a digital Israel Emergency Campaign Impact Report that memorializes what our community has done together since October 7th. It is a true testament to our community’s collective strength, resilience, commitment, and hope, and makes us even more proud to be a part of Jewish ATL.

CLICK HERE to Read our Israel Emergency Impact Report!

Federation’s Interfaith Family Director, Doug Konkel and Rabbi Elizabeth Breit of B’nai Torah recently attended a two-day training in Seattle to learn about the Reset & Refresh program. Reset & Refresh was developed in 2018 by Rabbi Samuel Klein of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle as an ancillary program for applicants to Honeymoon Israel, a federation partner program that brings young couples from our city to Israel as a catalyst for building a lifelong Jewish community. This unique program is intended for multi-faith couples to bond as they learn the spiritual, aesthetic, and ritualistic foundations of Shabbat through seven dinner sessions spread over two months. We are excited that Atlanta was chosen along with Portland, Austin and Buffalo to pilot the program in our respective cities and along with Atlanta’s Honeymoon Israel program, look forward to launching later this spring.

Federation’s Chair of the Atlanta Jewish Foundation, Steven Cadranel will receive Hillel’s of Georgia Billi & Bernie Marcus Visionary Award. This award is presented to a community member who has demonstrated a strong commitment to Jewish life in Georgia, dedication to students on campus, and shown philanthropic support to Hillels of Georgia to increase the organization’s capacity and grow the number of Georgia’s Jewish college students who have meaningful Jewish experiences.

With acts of antisemitism on the rise across Georgia and the nation, Hillels of Georgia is shining a spotlight on Steven Cadranel, a true visionary and advocate for Israel and Jewish life in Georgia. His enduring support of Hillels of Georgia has been instrumental in the organization’s continued ability to serve generations of Jewish students in a time when it is most needed.

Steven Cadranel has made a wide and lasting impact in the Jewish community of Georgia and beyond. With the presentation of the Billi & Bernie Marcus Visionary Award, we celebrate Steven’s extraordinary contributions and honor his legacy, an inspiration to us all. Mazel tov, Steven!

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Women’s History Month with Beth Weiller Arogeti

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation News

March is Women’s History Month and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to highlight a woman who has shaped, inspired, and led our Federation community, Beth Weiller Arogeti, the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. We asked her to share with us her journey, advice, and wisdom.

Rooted in a familial connection to the Atlanta Jewish community since the mid-1860s, Beth, a fifth-generation Atlantan, grew up at The Temple and was involved in community service through organizations like the Councilettes.  We asked her the following questions for Women’s History Month.

What inspired you to volunteer as Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and how has your journey led you to that position? 

The Atlanta Jewish community has been here for me and my family since the mid-1860s. As a fifth-generation Atlantan, my journey mirrors that of others who have held the role of Board Chair, albeit with some unique aspects. Growing up in Atlanta, my family attended The Temple, where I was confirmed in 1970 from the Sunday School and became a part of the Temple Youth Group, marking my initiation into community service. As a teenager, I joined Councilettes, the junior division of the National Council of Jewish Women, laying the foundation for years of volunteering in the community.

Since my early teens, the Federation has been a priority for my family. I had an exceptional role model in my mother, Margaret Strauss Weiller, who worked for the Women’s Division (now Women’s Philanthropy). Following in her footsteps, I’ve volunteered in various roles within the Federation organization, serving as President, Chair of Women’s Philanthropy, and Chair and Vice-Chair of our Community Campaign.

Can you share a significant achievement or project that you are particularly proud of during your time as a Federation community member? 

As a Jewish woman, I believe that the simple act of one Jew asking another Jew to help a third makes you a leader. This philosophy has attracted many wonderful people to our organization, turning them into leaders and stakeholders. The difference between being a leader or staying on the sidelines often lies in the act of asking.

Who are some women that have influenced or inspired you in your Federation journey, and how have they impacted your approach to leadership? 

My mother, Margaret Strauss Weiller, remains the most influential woman in my lifetime, leading by example. Her friends, Marilyn Shubin and Lois Blonder, along with my friend, Viki Freeman, have served as role models and mentors, guiding and supporting me in my community endeavors. Additionally, the five women who preceded me as Board Chairs—Betty Ann Jacobson, Carol Cooper, Linda Selig, Lisa Galanti, and Lori Kagen Schwarz—have also been significant role models.

Has anything else inspired you on your leadership journey? 

Seeing my children, Michelle and Ian Stribling, Jonathan and Sarah, involved in our Jewish community each in their own way is inspiration for me to continue trying to make this community the best that it can be for generations to come.  Now with the recent addition of 3 grandchildren being raised here in Atlanta, I feel more driven to work harder so all young people can have a wonderful upbringing in this wonderful city.  Also, I recently discovered fascinating information about my great-grandfather, Joseph Hirsch, on my mother’s side.  He came from Gimbheim, Germany, a small town between Frankfurt A/M and Darmstadt, and served as the first President of the Hebrew Orphans’ Home in 1914. This revelation reinforced my sense of destiny in being a leader in this community.

As a successful woman, what advice do you have for other women aspiring to leadership roles within the Jewish Federation or similar organizations? 

My advice for those aspiring to leadership roles is to take advantage of all the opportunities the community offers. Be curious, ask questions, and find something that excites you. The journey is more enjoyable when shared with a friend.

Beth Arogeti’s leadership journey is a testament to her enduring commitment to our community, her strong familial legacy, and her love for Jewish life. From her roots in the Atlanta Jewish community to pivotal roles within Federation, Beth exemplifies the power of leadership grounded in a passion for service and a deep understanding of community needs. We hope that this narrative encourages the future generation of female leaders, especially during Women’s History Month, when we reflect on the contributions of women in the past and present.

Looking Toward 5784

By Federation News

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 Federation News

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 [email protected]. 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 Federation News

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 Federation News

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

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Antisemitism’s rise endangers all of us

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation News

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

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, Federation News

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

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