Category

COMMUNITY

Hanukkah In A Box

By COMMUNITY, NextGen

NextGen Federation is partnering with Moishe House to bring you Hanukkah in a box! Why sit on Zoom for another hour when you can get everything you need to celebrate your way sent right to your house? We’ll send you a menorah, candles, gelt, and more!

Sign up below!

Pivoting from Fashion to Service

By CARING, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, People in Need

Pivoting from Fashion to Service
by Deborah Plotsky

I spent the first seven years of my career in fashion, but I’ve always had another passion for food and gardening. In 2019, after seven years of attempts to grow basil and compost in my tiny New York City apartment, I decided it was time to return to the hometown of my alma mater, Atlanta. I convinced my company to let me work remotely in Atlanta and decided I would find a more food or earth-focused job once I got here. Before I even really began networking in my new city, COVID-19 struck and left me jobless for the first time in my adult life. In good company and in the face of an overwhelming wave of need, I saw it as an opportunity to finally redirect my time and attention to a career of service.

It was all quite serendipitous; I happened to run into Claire, a Repair the World Fellow, at my community garden, she happened to mention Serve the Moment, a program that mobilizes young adults to engage in critical racial justice work, tackle food insecurity, strengthen our education system, and combat social isolation. And I happened to apply right on the application deadline. I knew it was my moment to pivot my career, but I knew no one in the field in my new city. Serve the Moment came to the rescue. After explaining my interests, my city coordinator paired me with Wholesome Wave Georgia, a nonprofit that facilitates access to and awareness of healthy food for all Georgians in need through local farmers and community partners. I’ve specifically focused on building a program to offer highly discounted Thanksgiving produce and protein boxes to families receiving SNAP food assistance. I’m able to leverage my relationship building and program management skills from my fashion career to deliver nutritional, sustainable food to the community in Atlanta.

Serve the Moment has been an excellent crash course into food injustice and the extreme needs in my community. Aside from my work with Wholesome Wave Georgia, we have weekly national and city learning sessions. Coming from a completely different background, the national fsessions with Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger are invaluable to me. At the local level, last week, we had the director of Grove Park Renewal talk to our city cohort about gentrification and how they’re working to protect citizens’ historic homes. I’m getting both a macro and micro view of the needs all around me while building a network of changemakers in my community.

The Jewish teachings of Tikkun Olam are at the root of this work. I’ve been able to meet people in my community who dedicate their lives to leaving this world better than how they found it. Together, we are able to spread the message and the work in a meaningful way. I’m so thankful for my Serve the Moment experience, I know it’s just the beginning of an impactful service-oriented career for me and perhaps even more importantly, the foundation of my new community (and especially the Jewish community) in my new home.

About Serve the Moment: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Repair the World and a coalition of partners created “Serve the Moment.” This part-time program connects Jewish young adults and college students (ages 18-29) to meaningful service and learning to address the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout, and the current movement for racial justice. Corps Members earn a stipend for 10 hours a week volunteering with service partners, and an additional 2 hours a week elevating their professional skills and accelerating their personal growth through virtual learning sessions. Applications for the spring cohort open December14 https://servethemoment.org/join-the-corps

Young Adults “Serve the Moment” for Older Adults

By Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need

Following a highly successful summer of service, Atlanta’s Serve the Moment program has now mobilized a fall cohort of young adults to address the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout, and the movement for racial justice here in Atlanta.

Sarah Arogeti is one of the cohort members, and she has chosen to serve through virtual visits with older adults who have been living socially isolated lives at two Jewish HomeLife residences, Berman Commons, and the William Breman Jewish Home. Due to COVID-19, Jewish HomeLife residences have not allowed visitors for many months and are only beginning to facilitate limited socially distanced in-person family visits in outdoor spaces.

Cory Shaw, who manages volunteers for Jewish HomeLife Communities, was skeptical at first. “I had my reservations about how effective virtual visits would be, but Sarah has made it a ‘natural thing.’ She has jumped in and asked our residents lots of questions about their families, where they grew up, memories of great places they’ve traveled, and helped them feel ‘connected’ and appreciative of their lives. The impact has been HUGE!  in just her first six days Sarah visited with 18 residents — only two were repeat visits. Serve the Moment’s “get-to-know-you visits” have been a wonderful antidote to feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

Serve the Moment received $60,000 to run a Summer and Fall Service Corps with Repair the World, and is now working with more than 15 service partners.

 

Melton for All! New Class for Adults with Diverse Learning Needs

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Jewish Abilities Alliance

The MJCCA’s Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning is extremely proud to have one of the largest Melton adult learning programs in the world! The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is the largest pluralistic adult Jewish education network in the world, and now it is pioneering an inclusive class for Atlanta adults who have diverse learning needs.

“My passion for adult Jewish education extends to include all adults, so I was thrilled when Lisa Houben, Federation’s Community Training and Inclusion Coordinator at the Jewish Abilities Alliance, approached me to engage in this initiative. To my knowledge this has never been done with the Melton community before,” said Talya Gorsetman, Director of the Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning. “We loved the idea of an inclusive and multi-sensory format that would embrace neurodiversity, so together with the Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA), we’ve created a six-session class that begins in November.”

The class, which is supported by the Glen Friedman Bnei Mitzvah fund and Jay and Judy Kessler, will be taught by Rabbi Steven Rau, RJE, Director of Lifelong Learning at The Temple. He is the author of Everyone is Welcome: Creating a Culture of Inclusion in Congregational Schools and has been a Melton faculty member for 10 years. For more information about the class please contact Talya Gorsetman, 678-812-4153.

Sharing The Same Moon. Sharing Our Lives.

By CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, PJ LIbrary

All Jews share the same lunar calendar, and now twelve families from Yokneam, Megido, and Atlanta have officially begun sharing the moon! The project began two months ago to bring us together at a time when social distancing keeps us even farther apart. Working with our Partnership region, we paired Israeli families with families in Atlanta to build bridges.

Through letter writing these families are collaboratively building an interactive book together called The Same Moon. It tells the story of two families who live on opposite sides of the ocean who get to know each other by sending handwritten letters and photos throughout the year. The book features pockets where one can store the letters as a way to personalize the book for each family. Every month the book prompts the families to share something different about their lives — their hobbies, interests, holiday celebrations and traditions, favorite recipes, and more.

Katie Guzner, a PJ Library Co-Chair, loves the program. “We read PJ Library stories about Israel with our kids and tell them about my Birthright trip, and when my husband, Gennadiy, lived in Megiddo. Now our kids get to share stories with a family in Israel. It’s so precious to receive a letter from our pen pal family and for our girls to learn that we have so much in common.”

Emergency Training Saves Lives

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Secure Community Network

Thanks to a generous donor, Federation’s Community-Wide Security Program will now provide free Stop The Bleed kits to each of our community organizations. The kits will be strategically placed throughout their facilities so that in an emergency, any person can render aid before a professional first-responder arrives. A person who is bleeding can die of blood loss within a few minutes so knowing how to control bleeding can truly save lies.

To receive their free kits, organizations must agree to participate in our free Stop the Bleed Training and Countering Active Threat Training. Both classes are offered through Federation’s partnership with the Secure Community Network and are led by Neil Rabinovitz, Community Security Director, and Zach Williams, Deputy Community Security Director. Training can be done either in person (in accordance with current CDC COVID-19 guidelines), or virtually if preferred.

Training builds community resilience. We want to train our community to “Commit to Action” if faced with any type of active threat, including an active shooter. In multiple active threat incidents, from Pittsburgh to Monsey, survivors have credited training with saving lives. For additional information on the training classes or to schedule training, contact Neil Rabinovitz or Zach Williams.

Anyone Can Be A Philanthropic Champion

By AgeWell Atlanta, Aging, Atlanta Jewish Foundation, CARING, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

Anyone Can Be A Philanthropic Champion 
By Etta Raye Hirsch

One of the best things that has happened in Jewish Atlanta is the consolidation of resources that make life better for older adults. Finally, with AgeWell Atlanta, we’ve pulled together all the supportive programs of Jewish Family & Career Services, the care of Jewish HomeLife, and the social opportunities of the MJCCA, into one entity. It took guidance from Federation to spearhead the effort, but the result is a much-needed coordination of services that makes me really proud! 

With the pandemic, our older population is struggling as never before. If you don’t make it easy for people to find the help they need, they give up. Now through AgeWell Atlanta, if you’re a caregiver or an older adult needing help, you just dial one number 1-866-AGEWELL and you can speak to a real live person who can guide you to the right resources. It’s just what our community needs now.  

For me, philanthropy is both a habit and a family imperative. Our family foundation is something my grown children are involved with as decision-makers, and something my grandkids are becoming well aware of. If you want to know how to leave your necklace to a family member, your attorney or financial advisor can set that up. But if you want to truly be a change agent, become an investor in the things you really care about. You can be a philanthropist at any level! 
I give to a wide range of nonprofits in our region, yet I rely on experts to advise me on my gifts. In truth, Atlanta Jewish Foundation (AJF) has educated me about opportunities I didn’t even know existed. I’m almost embarrassed to mention this, but I was “old” before I even knew what a donor-advised fund (DAF) was! Now I use my DAF as a tool for making grants and I want everyone to know about them. We have to say to folks, “Let’s make philanthropy easy for you.  

Atlanta Jewish Foundation makes it simple to support AgeWell Atlanta, and other older adult supportive programs, through your donor-advised fund. The Foundation can also guide you on how you can make long-term “legacy” commitments through the Jewish Future Pledge and the LIFE & LEGACY program. Both are vehicles to build up endowment reserves in our synagogues, schools, and organizations, to sustain their future. I’m on board!  

There are many ways you can donate, but why not do it through AJF? I can make grants online, or just call the Foundation and say, “Here’s where I want my gift to go, and they take care of it. They have the right people with the right skills and relationships to connect the dots and really amp up your impact.  

Etta Raye Hirsch was Atlanta Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2019 Philanthropist of the Year. She currently serves as Honorary Chair of Federation’s AgeWell Atlanta Targeted Philanthropy giving opportunity.   

 

Inspired by Hillel

By COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, NextGen

Hillel Helped Me Find My Heritage
By Olivia K. Emmette
It all began with my great-grandfather, William Goodman. He was born into an increasingly anti-Semitic, pre-WWII Germany. His parents, both Jewish, had to make the tough decision whether to risk their child’s life by keeping the family together, or send him to America, where he could have a fresh start. They selflessly chose to send him to the States where he would be adopted by a Christian family. His parents were killed shortly after in a death camp. Without the brave sacrifice of my great-great grandparents, I likely would not be here. However, I wonder sometimes, “If the world had been a better place, would I have grown up Jewish at all?”

Recently, I joined Hillel at Georgia Tech, where I began to dive deeper into my Jewish heritage and community through social events and classes like Jewish 101 and Jewish Learning Fellowship. I am proud to say that I have found a home within the Jewish community, and I am so very grateful and excited to learn more about myself and my identity.

After I made the transition from a private, Catholic middle school, to a public school I immediately began to make friends with people from other faiths. I tried to explain my Jewish history to some of my other Jewish friends, but I never felt like I belonged. Many people said that because my mother was not Jewish and because I never went through the traditional upbringing (bat mitzvah, etc.) I was not Jewish. However, I never truly felt Catholic either because I was open about my Jewish history, queer, and my father did not practice Catholicism.

The story that resonated with me the most from the Jewish Learning Fellowship is about Rabbi Akiva. He was forty before he studied anything. He did not know the aleph-bet or any of the Torah, but he worked hard to learn. Akiva teaches us that it is never too late to find your faith and that we do not need to feel shame for what we do not know. And, ever since being a part of Hillel, I have been able to ask questions — no matter how elementary and without shame. It is truly a beautiful way to learn.

Be a Champion for Older Adults!

By AgeWell Atlanta, Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need

Be a Champion for Older Adults!  
By Etta Raye Hirsch 

One of the best things that has happened in Jewish Atlanta is the consolidation of resources that make life better for older adults. Finally, with AgeWell Atlanta, we’ve pulled together all the supportive programs of Jewish Family & Career Services, the care of Jewish HomeLife, and the social opportunities of the MJCCA, into one entity. It took guidance from Federation to spearhead the effort, but the result is a much-needed coordination of services that makes me really proud! 

With the pandemic, our older population is struggling as never before. If you don’t make it easy for people to find the help they need, they give up. Now through AgeWell Atlanta, if you’re a caregiver or an older adult needing help, you just dial one number 1-866-AGEWELL and you can speak to a real live person who can guide you to the right resources. It’s just what our community needs now.  

For me, philanthropy is both a habit and a family imperative. Our family foundation is something my grown children are involved with as decision-makers, and something my grandkids are becoming well aware of. If you want to know how to leave your necklace to a family member, your attorney or financial advisor can set that up. But if you want to truly be a change agent, become an investor in the things you really care about. You can be a philanthropist at any level! 

 I give to a wide range of nonprofits in our region, yet I rely on experts to advise me on my gifts. In truth, Atlanta Jewish Foundation (AJF) has educated me about opportunities I didn’t even know existed. I’m almost embarrassed to mention this, but I was “old” before I even knew what a donor-advised fund (DAF) was! Now I use my DAF as a tool for making grants and I want everyone to know about them. We have to say to folks,“Let’s make philanthropy easy for you.”  

Atlanta Jewish Foundation makes it simple to support AgeWell Atlanta, and other older adult supportive programs, through your donor-advised fund. The Foundation can also guide you on how you can make long-term “legacy” commitments through the Jewish Future Pledge and the LIFE & LEGACY program. Both are vehicles to build up endowment reserves in our synagogues, schools, and organizations, to sustain their future. I’m on board!  

There are many ways you can donate, but why not do it through AJF? I can make grants online, or just call the Foundation and say, “Here’s where I want my gift to go,and they take care of it.”They have the right people with the right skills and relationships to connect the dots and really amp up your impact.  

 Etta Raye Hirsch was Atlanta Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2019 Philanthropist of the Year. She currently serves as Honorary Chair of Federation’s AgeWell Atlanta Targeted Philanthropy giving opportunity.   

Virtual Programming Brings Laughs and Light

By Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY


Meryl (not her real name) lost her husband last December. Then came COVID-19. Amidst all the grief came loneliness and isolation. Now, virtual programming through AgeWell Atlanta and the MJCCA has become a lifeline, bringing connection and consistency to her routine. “I really, really enjoy the programs that you schedule and that I participate in,” Meryl said. “This time of the COVID-19 pandemic makes life so challenging. I live by myself since my husband passed away. I do go to the grocery store, but I try to only go there about every 2 weeks.”

Virtual programs bring laughs, too. “The Improv class has been freeing! It has provided a nonjudgmental, positive forum for me to be creative and have some laughs.  This class has been the perfect antidote for the dark times we are living in due to the pandemic. I leave energized after every class.”

No wonder what used to be Senior Day has now blossomed into Senior Week, made possible by AgeWell Atlanta and its partnerstheMarcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and Jewish HomeLife.Senior Week will offer five consecutive days of adult virtual programming, November 9-13, from 3-4 pm.  The theme is Jewish Culture Around the World and the whole week’s events are free! To get the Zoom links and RSVP, email Ashley Maloy at amaloy@jfcsatl.org, or Barbara Vahaba at barbara.vahaba@atlantajcc.org

Monday, November 9 – The Jews of Spain: Past, Present and Future: The history of the Jews of Spain is a remarkable story. Moises Hassan, a specialist in Jewish history of Spain, will trace the 2000 years of Spanish Jewry and discuss whether their future will be as turbulent as their past.

Tuesday, November 10 – Growing up in Israel: Local Atlanta Shinshinim, Israeli high school graduates taking a gap year before their military service, will discuss their thoughts on serving in the Army as well as their individual COVID-19 experiences in Israel. Plus hear about how Israel’s COVID measures have impacted the political environment.

Wednesday, November 11 – THE JEWISH GHETTO IN VENICE: For centuries, the Venetian economy was based primarily on trade and the city became a melting pot of different cultures. In 1516 the Jews were the only group to be granted their own quarter. Guide Laura Sabbadin will share the fascinating history of Venetian prejudice and hospitality.

Thursday, November 12 – Jewish Artists in the Atlanta High Museum Collection: Laurel Humble, Head of Creative Aging and Lifelong Learning at the High Museum, will talk about Jewish artists in the American and Modern/Contemporary collection areas highlighting works by Camille Pissarro, Amadeo Modigliani, and Ben Shahn, who were part of important art movements in the last two centuries.

Friday, November 13 – A Musical Finale: Well-known Yiddish singer Alejandra Czarny will treat the audience to a selection of Yiddish songs and original selections. Originally from Argentina, Alejandra has performed throughout Europe and the Americas and has recorded three CDs of Yiddish music.