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Yokneam’s “Shark Tank” Projects are Up and Running

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY

Inspired and influenced by years of financial support from the Atlanta and St. Louis Federations, Yokneam and Megiddo are taking bold steps to create their own fundraising infrastructure. The communities plan to launch the firstever Yokneam Community Fund, providing a charitable giving platform for companies and individuals to financially support innovative local initiatives. The goal is to empower individuals and local businesses to take an active role as philanthropists, and to empower local groups to create their own programming. 

Here’s a rundown of community-driven projects that were recently green-lighted following a “Shark Tank” style competition. All are adding to the quality of life in our Partnership region.

  • Gaia Club for Upcycling — Gaia Club for Upcycling is a community club operated by volunteers that will create a “store” for second-hand clothes and accessories for children and babies, as well as subsidized social rental of large equipment, such as construction equipment, gardening, and camping. It will be run by volunteers and will also operate a social club to empower retired women.  
  • Shed Sherut — The Shed Serut will be a unique logistic basis for equipment such as paints and painting tools, gardening tools, work tools (for small repairs) and more. The Shed Sherut will be used and operated by Rikma’s Shnat Sherut (gap year) volunteers.  
  • Social Kitchen — Social Kitchen provides home-cooked meals and groceries for needy families. Families within the community cook and provide food to needy families whose condition has worsened with the pandemic and who are not currently receiving welfare support. 
  • Kibbutz Megiddo — During their Bar Mitzvah year, 12- and 13 year-olds are volunteering for a community social project in Kibbutz Megiddo. Taking an unused corner of the settlement, they will create a green corner to be used for both young and elderly members of the community. These age groups suffered from COVID-19 more than most of the others. For the elders, the isolation and loneliness took a toll on their mental and physical health, and this year four of the community members passed away. This corner will be a meeting place for the elderly members of the community, and at the same time this will be a place of interaction with youngsters who will volunteer there. In addition, a community vegetable garden will be added, where both age groups will work together, and the vegetables will be given to those in need in the community.  

Shomrei Hanachal (Guards of the Stream) — The COVID-19 crisis struck many people around the world, and especially young retirees who stopped almost all their activities and became socially disconnected. This project will help young retirees to see the possibilities in the crisis, to think outside the box, and to engage in groups that can enhance feeling of belonging, being meaningfully active and influential through inter-generation activity.

Making Israel Real for Teens

By GLOBAL JEWRY, JumpSpark

Jewish educators are constantly searching for ways to engage students in discovering their Jewish identity and connecting with the land and people of Israel. There is agreement that one of the most impactful way to link Jewish teens with their Jewish identity is having them spend extended time in Israel. Taking a gap year, between high school graduation and the start of college, is an ideal time. 

This past year, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in partnership with JumpSpark Atlanta, offered a gap year scholarship opportunity created by the Zalik Family Foundation. The scholarships can be applied to a wide selection of programs facilitated by the Jewish Agency, and coordinated by an organization called Masa Israel Journey.

Twenty-five students from around Atlanta have received grants of $10,000 to help subsidize the cost of their gap year program. An additional $5,000 scholarship was awarded to students who commit to serving the community upon their return. In a new twist, Federation is offering a new gap year option called Shinshinim IL bringing an Atlanta teen to volunteer in the Yokneam community for a year. 

Michal Ilai, Director of Israel Programs at the Weber School, helped recruit students for gap year experiences. She said, “Masa is a provider of many fine gap year opportunities each with a slightly different way to authentically engage students in Israel. Some programs are focused on academics, others are more experiential offering tiyulim (trips) around the country. But every avenue leads to the same destination — deepening Jewish identity while getting to really know Israel. There is a gap year for every kind of teen, and I was lucky to have been the matchmaker this past year. I hope this scholarship will be offered to Atlanta high school graduates for years to come.” 

Rebecca Lewyn, a Weber graduate and scholarship recipient, is looking forward to leaving for Israel. “I am so excited to be participating. It feels good to know my Federation supports a very important cause and helps send kids to Israel who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.” Lewyn will join Young Judea Year Course, a well-established and popular gap year program that has been attracting teens from all over the world since the 1950’s.  

Daniel Landis is a Chamblee Charter High School graduate who also received the scholarship. He chose a program with a technology track in which students intern in Tel Aviv tech companies. When asked what he wanted to get out of the experience, he immediately said “I want to gain a lot of new skills, explore my Jewish heritage and make new connections.”  

Leah Stock-Landis, Daniel’s mother, is extremely thankful for the scholarship. “From the beginning stage, all the information provided, and continuous support made us feel that somebody was looking for what was the best fit for Daniel.” He’ll be part of a program that takes students to Poland to visit concentration camps. This is of particular importance to the Landis family, as Daniel’s grandfather was a Holocaust survivor.  

A local family whose daughter recently returned from her gap year program, shared their excitement about the initiative. “Israel is very important to us, so it was a given that our daughter would go on a gap year program. We wish we had this level of guidance at the time we looked at the options. In addition to the incredible scholarship, the help to Atlanta families with selecting the appropriate program is a tremendous service,” the father shared. 

The Power of Unity

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY

Unity in the Face of Antisemitism  
By Allison Padilla-Goodman 
Vice President, ADL Southern Division

Jews harassed with antisemitic slurs as they walk down the street. Synagogues vandalized and receiving antisemitic threats. Jews stalked and assaulted for no other reason than for being Jewish. Online antisemitic content reaching new heights on social media platforms, with an ADL analysis identifying 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase “Hitler was right” in a single week. 

These are just a few of the painful examples of the dangerous escalation of antisemitism in the U.S. in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict last month. In fact, antisemitic incidents reported to ADL increased by 75 percent during the conflict. 

The anxiety around antisemitism is real and ADL took action. In response to these disturbing trends, dozens of national organizations joined forces with ADL and Jewish Federations of North America on May 27 in a virtual Day of Action to #ActAgainstAntisemitism. It was tremendous. 

We saw the power of unity in action, with 33,500 participants and thousands of letters sent to members of Congress from across the country to support Jewish communities. We heard from leaders from across the country, who clearly and emphatically condemned antisemitism. These are certainly challenging times when it comes to antisemitism and hatred, yet this rally proved that American Jews will not let the narrative of hatred overwhelm us. Rather, these key moments of solidarity from our friends, and the unity demonstrated within our community, will define who we are and how we continue to persevere. 

All of this is coming on the heels of several years of historically high rates of antisemitism. Last year’s ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents revealed the third highest year of antisemitic incident data in our audit’s history. ADL saw sharp increases in antisemitic harassment and the hateful innovation of Zoombombing — two trends we certainly witnessed here in Atlanta last year, over and over again. It can all be overwhelming.  

This is why we must take action. We all must continue to speak up in the media, in Congress, and in our circles, both online and in person. We must never let antisemitism and hatred become normalized. We all must continue to share facts and ensure that everyone understands antisemitism and its impact. We all must continue to show strength and continue to lean into our community and allies as we did at the May 27 virtual rally. Together we must show the world that antisemitism will not be tolerated. 

ADL is here for you. Learn more about our work in the Southeast at https://atlanta.adl.org/ . 

Supporting Teens and Soldiers

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY

We are relieved that the ceasefire is holding, and we thank Gd that life is getting back to normal here in Israel. However, we experienced a tremendous loss with the death of Omer Tabib. Omer Tabib was born in Moshav Elyakim and was the eldest of Tali and Amir Tabib’s two children. Omer was killed by an anti-tank missile in the Gaza Perimeter, while patrolling near Moshav Netiv Ha’asara. 

Itzik Holovsky, head of the Megiddo Regional Council remembered Omer with these words: A terrible disaster fell on us yesterday, out of the blue. The heart is torn and the head refuses to believe. There is no consolation for the terrible loss. It doesn’t make sense and it’s not normal for a father to read Kaddish for his son. Omer Tabib was killed at the gates of Gaza by a missile fired by the damned and vile Hamas. Omer was active in Bnei Akiva, an outstanding student at Hatikva School in the Moshav and the Megiddo High School and was loved by everyone. An excellent athlete, a talented water ball player, he was an outstanding soldier who received the IDF award from his unit. In just another month he was supposed to be released – how terrible, how painful! 

Read on for an update on how we are faring in Yokneam and Megiddo after the bombardment.                                            

Supporting IDF soldiers from the Elyakim Base: There is an army base in our region that is very close to Moshav Elyakim. The Partnership steering committee decided to support the soldiers on the base and show them how much our communities think about them during this challenging time. Committee members, who had participated in fundraising courses supported by Federation, raised 2,100 ILS in four days and delivered 60 trays of pizza and drinks to the soldiers. Rebecca, our new steering committee member who was the champion of this initiative said, “Today we had the honor of delivering and handing out 60 pizzas plus drinks to Base Elyakim. We got to chat with the soldiers and they literally could not stop thanking us. Within minutes it was gobbled up! There were some serious smiles and laughter.” 

Supporting Atlanta & St. Louis Lone Soldiers: The connection between the Partnership Region, Atlanta, and St. Louis IDF soldiers was strengthened during this operation. The “adoptive” families of our Lone Soldiers and our committee members called each of them to make sure all was okay and to see how we can help. June 10 will mark our first visitors in the region after COVID-19, from Hillels of GeorgiaSeven soldiers confirmed their participation for dinner in our region. There are also videos and letters that schools created for the soldiers, such as this one from The Davis Academy:  

Megiddo is hosting teens from the southThe Megiddo Regional Council is hosting 150 teens from the south of Israel for a respite from the challenging situation. There is real need to help the teens recover from these difficult times, and Megiddo is helping to provide that. The Federation of St. Louis helped with funding part of the costs of the meals for the teens.  

Supporting Holocaust Survivors: “Barry’s” Story

By AgeWell Atlanta, Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

by Cherie Aviv, Chair, Holocaust Survivor Support Fund

“Barry,” (his name has been changed for privacy) grew up in a loving Jewish home attending synagogue, observing Shabbat, playing dreidel, and eating Jewish foods. But when the National Socialists came to power and enforced Nazi rule, Barry was forced to wear a yellow star, quit school, leave home, and was transported by train to Auschwitz. By jumping off the train, and not getting caught or killed, he hid in the forest and used his skills, determination, and drive to survive. His family was not as fortunate and the horrors of that period left a mark on him, as it did on all Holocaust survivors.

Survivors of the Holocaust like Barry deserve to live out their lives comfortably, with dignity and support. Barry made a life for himself in Atlanta. As his health deteriorated, without family to care for him, financial resources to meet Barry’s needs became paramount. Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) provided case management and The Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF) provided funds so he could live his remaining days respectably and not alone, with a caregiver at his side. HSSF also provided Barry with grocery food gift cards, medical assistance, prescription assistance, and transportation help.

HSSF, convened by Federation, provides funds to meet the needs of Holocaust survivors, like Barry, as they get older and to supplement Claims Conference funds from Germany that are sent to social service agencies, in this case JF&CS. Claims Conference funds are insufficient to meet the needs of Barry and others like him, making HSSF support vital.

To support this important outreach: https://jewishatlanta.org/give/donate/

Our Responsibility
Holocaust survivors have a short window to receive this precious care. It is an act of community responsibility and an expression of the Jewish value of chesed (loving kindness) to care for the final generation of survivors who are still with us. As dollars deminish, our support for HSSF provides this very special population the opportunity to live their remaining years as fully as possible and with dignity.

Who does HSSF Support?
In Georgia, at least 218 of the 277 Holocaust survivors receive financial, social, reparations assistance, or support services. Of these 218, two thirds receive some type of financial assistance. Beginning in Fall 2020, HSSF funds also supported survivors in remote locations in the southeast that are served through JF&CS-Atlanta.

Needs are growing
The needs of survivors are growing as they age. The average survivor age is 86. More than 25 percent of survivors receiving financial support have annual incomes that fall below the Federal Poverty Level.
HSSF has allocated over $1.5 million for survivors through March 2021. This year alone, we project the financial need provided by HSSF to grow by 33 percent.
Supporting HSSF helps provide:

  •  Home-delivered meals — this has a significant impact by providing peace of mind and the comfort of a reliable food source.
  •  Grocery gift cards to improve survivors’ physical health by giving them access to more nutritious food options, and easing concerns about having enough food, which can be a source of anxiety.
  •  Prescription assistance, which takes a huge toll on survivors who may face large co-pays and often are on multiple expensive medications.
  •  Homecare, which provides the greatest need to help survivors with activities of daily living, from bathing, assistance with food intake and basic human needs.
  •  And much more…

HSSF, convened by Federation, is a partnership of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Career Services, Jewish HomeLife Communities, The Breman Museum, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, and Eternal Life-Hemshech to meet the increased needs of homecare, health care, social services, assisted living support, and financial assistance for Holocaust survivors in our community.

To support this important outreach https://jewishatlanta.org/give/donate/
To learn more about HSSF visit, https://jewishatlanta.org/give/philanthropic-opportunities/hssf/

The Amazing Mayors of Yokneam & Megiddo

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY

The mayors of the cities in our Israel Partnership region are remarkable men! Mayor Simon Alfasi, of Yokneam, and Itzik Holavsky, head of the Regional Council of Megiddo, are committed to making life better for their citizens. Both men have a passion to accelerate the quality of life for the Ethiopian olim (immigrants) in their communities and to create more opportunities for educational and economic advancement in their regionWe’re excited to share video interviews with Mayor Simon Alfasiand Mayor Itzik Holavsky responding to questions from members of Atlanta’s Jewish Peoplehood Committee. Take a minute to meet these men and learn about the issues in our Partnership region, and the positive outcomes our Atlanta dollars are achieving.

Meet Yokneam’s Mayor Alfasi here.

Meet Megiddo’s Mayor Holavsky here.

Atlanta Meets Israel in a JumpSpark Blog

By CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, JumpSpark

JumpSpark’s Amplifying Israel program is all about connecting Atlanta teens with their counterparts in our Partnership RegionYokneam, IsraelLulu Rosenberg, an 11th grader at North Springs High School, is one of five Atlanta fellows in the program. Shaked Nitka is high school student in YokneamIsrael. Both girls are blogging to explore their feelings about what it means to be Jewish, and in the process are illuminating places where they align, and where they diverge a bit, tooHere’s what they have to say: 

Lulu Rosenberg: Whether I am lighting the Shabbat candles, eating chicken soup with matzah balls, participating in a global Jewish youth group like BBYO, or attending a Strong Jewish Women’s Fellowship meeting, there is no doubt that I am connected to my Judaism. Being Jewish is a huge part of my identity and it plays a major role in my daily life. When I wake up in the morning, it’s not like the first thing I think of is being Jewish. But when I come downstairs and see a plate of hamentaschen from my neighbor on the counter, I don’t question it. When I get a bowl for my cereal before I go to school, I make sure to get a dairy one and not a meat one. Leaving my house for school, I pass the mezuzah on the door and walk to my car. I don’t even notice the sticker on my windshield for the Jewish Community Center anymore; it is the same one that practically every other Jew in Atlanta also has. 

I used to go to a Jewish day school where all my friends and most of my teachers were Jewish. Now, I attend public school. My closest friends are still Jewish, but I am no longer in a bubble where Judaism defines my every day. Everyone at school knows I am Jewish, but it doesn’t seem to faze anyone like I expected it to. I’m not even sure how I expected people to act, but for some reason I believed that my Judaism would really matter to others. Lulu’s story continues here.

Shaked NitkaJudaism is a big part of my life, and it is in my daily life almost everywhere, sometimes even without me noticing it. It could be reflected in the Magen David (shield necklace) that I got for my Bat Mitzvah and which I wear all the time, or in the special feeling of a holiday whenever Friday comes. I think the fact that I’m Israeli has a strong connection to my Judaism because in Israel there are many holy places for Judaism that are close to me and that allow me to connect with Judaism and the history of the Jewish people. Also, Israel is based on Judaism and its laws, and the people surrounding me are following those just like me. For example, on Yom Kippur, everything is closed and when I go out on the streets there are lots of people outside riding a bike or meeting each other to spend this time together, which allows me to experience the holiday in a more powerful and special way. 

I’m not in a religious Jewish school, but Judaism is still present. I learn the Bible, and on school trips we go to places that are important to the history of the Jewish people. After school, I usually learn more and do my homework, go out with my friends, or ride on roller skates to a field close to my house where I will read a book or knit. On Friday, which is my favorite day of the week, I help my parents cook Shabbat dinner, and on that day, my brother also comes back from the Israeli army. We all sit down and have Shabbat dinner together. Being Jewish and Israeli is a big and important part of my identity that matters and interests me greatly. I love opportunities like this one (Amplifying Israel teen fellow) that connect me to Judaism. 

Gap Year in Israel: An Incredible Option for Pre College Students

By CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

What if your high school student didn’t go to college right after high school? Taking a year-long break, or “gap year” in Israel between high school and college is growing in popularity for pre-college Jewish teens. And what if your student even got a scholarship to go?!

Now JumpSpark, in partnership with The Zalik Foundation, has received funding to award 30 lucky students with a $10,000 – $15,000 scholarship that supports an in-person gap year in Israel. At a time when for many, the college experience is a virtual one, The Atlanta Israel Gap Year Scholarship guarantees actual experiences!  

When students take a gap year in Israel they live and interact with their peers. It’s an international communal living and growth experience that instills independence, maturityand opportunities to travel and serve, while building life-long connections to lsrael. There are many exciting gap year options to choose from, so read on to learn about the Israel program that’s right for your student!

JumpSpark’s new Atlanta Israel Gap Year Scholarship provides generous support for ten pre-approved and diverse gap year programs. Explore the desert, volunteer on a kibbutz, visit high-tech startups, engage in meaningful social action, and connect with thousands of years of Jewish life in Israel.   

Join us for a series of information sessions on each of the gap year programs eligible for the Atlanta Israel Gap Year Scholarship. The diverse participating gap year programs span a range of focus areas, cities, and religious affiliations. There’s an Israel gap year experience for everyone and we can help you identify the one that’s right for you. 

To help in this process, JumpSpark will have a day dedicated to learning about each program, meeting the staff, and hearing from current and past teen and parent participants. See the dates below and learn more about which program might be a good fit. Find scholarship applications here.  

Upcoming Atlanta Israel Gap Year Information Sessions:
 

FEB. 17, 2021 | Bina Gap Year › 

FEB. 21, 2021 | Aardvark › 

FEB. 23, 2021 | Masa Israel Journey: Why Choose a Gap Year › 

FEB. 24, 2021 | Nativ › 

FEB. 28, 2021 | Young Judaea Year Course › 

MAR. 3, 2021 |Shinshinim IL › 

Men’s Journey to Israel

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

November 7-13, 2021 | Israel
This November, take an unforgettable Jewish Journey to Israel!
On this trip 
you will take a deep dive into local Israeli lifepolitics, food, and culture, and go beyond the typical tourist path.
Perfect for both first-time and veteran travelers. 
Learn more and sign up. 

Some trip highlights* include:  

  • Meet some of Israel’s leading entrepreneurs. 
  • Rappel down the old city walls of Jerusalem for a unique view  
  • Visit the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the goods crossing at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, where the borders of Gaza and Israel meet 
  • Dinner at Blue Sky restaurant with Chef Meir Adoni, one of Israel’s leading chefs 
  • More highlights to come… 

*itinerary subject to change  

We continue to monitor COVID-19 and will only proceed with the trip if it is safe for all participants.
For now, we have high hopes we will all be able to be together in Israel this upcoming November.
 

Men’s Journey Chairs: David Fisher, Joel Marks, Brian Seitz, Stuart Shapiro, Mark Silberman 

Make your deposit today to reserve your spot on the bus. Deposits are refundable until August 21, 2021. 

Suggested donation: $1,800+ | Price: $4,140 double occupancy or +$1,290 single occupancy 

Questions? Contact Dakota Penza. 

FY21 Mens Israel Mission

1General Information
2Tell us about yourself
3Reserve your spot
  • General Information

  • Passports must be valid 6 months after the return date of this trip.

New from JumpSpark: Amplifying Israel Teen Fellowship

By Atlanta Birthright Community Trips, GLOBAL JEWRY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

In 2021, JumpSpark is excited to add teen Israel travel to its portfolio. In order to create enthusiasm around that shift, JumpSpark is launching the new Amplifying Israel Teen Fellowship! This is a bold initiative to strengthen our relationship with teens in our partnership region, Yokneam and Megiddo, and to amp up teen travel to Israel.

As the program launches, four Amplifying Israel Teen Fellows will be chosen from the Atlanta Jewish community. They’ll work with four identified teen leaders in Atlanta’s partnership region. Our Atlanta fellows are ambassadors who will be trained as social media storytellers for the program as they build excitement for Israel travel.

Just as we bring Shinshinim to Atlanta from our partnership region, we want to connect Atlanta teens to Israeli teens. This Fellowship will be the first step in strengthening our connection to our partnership region and getting more teens to Israel.

“This Fellowship will be the first step in strengthening our teen connection to our partnership region and getting more teens to Israel,” says Kelly Cohen, Director of JumpSpark. “Connecting on a personal level is key. That is what this program seeks to do.”

“Nothing compares to having a friend from Israel who is your age or to experience Israel with your Israeli friend,” says Eliad Ben Shushan, Director of the Partnership. “This is also a fantastic opportunity for our Israeli teens to learn about the life of teens in Atlanta.”