Category

COMMUNITY

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.

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.

Meals for Homebound Holocaust Survivors

By Aging, CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need

Thanks to a partnership with The Epstein School cafeteria, JF&CS was able to deliver free prepared meals to Holocaust Survivors and low-income house-bound older adults, many of whom wondered where they would find their next meal. Anat Granath, a Social Worker with the Holocaust Survivor Program, says that although they were reluctant to use the Kosher Food Pantry service at first, many have found the program to be extremely helpful. 

“Many Holocaust Survivors used to have caregivers, but because of the virus they are asking their caregivers not to come. So, there’s really nobody to shop for them, and many of them don’t have children or family members that live close by that they can rely on food delivery on a regular basis.” Granath also emphasizes the importance of food security to Holocaust Survivors. “I think sometimes, even just knowing that somebody tells you ‘you won’t go hungry again,’ we can’t underestimate what that means to a client who has felt hunger for many, many years. And many of them are benefiting from the Kosher Food Pantry, which is wonderful,” she said.  

Many of Granath’s clients have expressed their appreciation and gratitude for both the food that JF&CS has provided to them, and for the feeling that someone in the world is thinking of them and taking care of them. As the pandemic continues, the need continues to grow for food and supplies. Thankfully, our community has stepped up to help.  

Last year, over a 12-month period, 1,931 people were helped by the Kosher Food Pantry, and 17,500 pounds of food was distributed. This year, in the period between March 13 and July 3, 2020, 2,882 people were served, and 66,469 pounds of food were distributed. That’s the equivalent of three years’ worth of food distributed in four months  

JF&CS received an allocation $40K from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for food support. 

Iris & Bruce Feinberg: Investors in Social Justice

By CARING, COMMUNITY

Though we are empty nesters, Bruce and I still include our four children in decisions about our family’s philanthropy. We continue to talk about how we can make a difference in our Atlanta community and farther afield in ways that are relevant to all of us. Our kids know they were born “on third base,” with many advantages, yet they refuse to close their eyes to injustice and social inequities.

Even before the Black Lives Matter movement intensified this spring, we have been focused on empowering high poverty communities in Atlanta. The murder of George Floyd and the anger and frustration felt by so many of us accelerated our interest in supporting an organization called Westside Future Fund that’s doing community development in the neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue, University Center, and Ashview Heights. It resonated with us for many reasons including the inclusion of local residents to create their own safe, economically strong neighborhoods.

We all tend to live in silos, and it’s not unusual that local organizations who are doing wonderful work fall off the radar. If social justice is your priority, your vision can be limited to who you know and where you live. Atlanta Jewish Foundation (AJF) opens a wide window on giving opportunities that align with your interests.

Say you’re interested in organizations that focus on reading and early childhood development — AJF can point you to so many meaningful opportunities. Atlanta, with its civil rights heritage, is a hub for changemakers and innovators who are using policy and practice effectively to revitalize their communities. No matter what your philanthropic passion, lean into it! Atlanta Jewish Foundation is an awesome resource that can lead you, as it has led us, to social justice and Jewish opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

With our focus on empowerment, we’ve made other philanthropic investments that are exciting, innovative, and effective. One was JOIN for Justice, a Jewish organizing initiative in Boston. Our son Jonathon went through the program and we liked how it develops social organizational leadership capacity for young people. Another is Amplify Decatur, inspired by our son Michael, a musician. It uses music as a catalyst to raise funds for community organizations fighting poverty and homelessness. We looked at it as an investment and told the founder that he had to match at least 50 percent of what we gave in outside grants. It’s now one of the most successful poverty relief organizations in the Southeast.

We were recently introduced to the CEO of the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (RCIE) located in Atlanta’s HBCU center. It was started by the widow and children of the late African American businessman Herman J. Russell to develop opportunities for aspiring African Americans who don’t have the network of family, business, or fraternity connections. RCIE helps them network, and provides ways to support, teach, and lift people up so they can develop their own businesses. Each of these organizations approaches inequity differently; our hope is that our investment in them will continue to bring social justice change to our community.

Bruce and I are grateful that Atlanta Jewish Foundation has made our philanthropic giving even more meaningful, impactful, and personal.

Celebrating Gender Diversity

By CARING, COMMUNITY

How do LGBTQ+ and allies celebrate gender and sexual diversity in a pandemic, without a parade? This year we still danced, sang, laughed, dressed up, and communed. And we offered a robust calendar of virtual speakers and discussions for Pride.

LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus additional identities) people have been reclaiming negative and inflammatory images and terms for centuries. With determination and defiance, we have turned what has been intended to harm into a badge of pride. For example, the pink triangle that identified gay men in concentration camps and even using the word queer have been reclaimed to demonstrate being “out and proud.”

Do you know who the #ProudBoys are? No, not the white supremacist group that the ADL has described as misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration with some members having anti-Semitic ideologies. Recently, LGBTQ+ Twitter users and their allies have claimed hashtag #ProudBoys to reframe the Twitter handle as proud gay men loving each other — sharing pictures of men loving each other in response to hateful rhetoric.

Did you know that there are six genders cited hundreds of times in Jewish oral commentaries? One variation is tum tum, a person whose sex is unknown because their genitalia is either covered or hidden. In modern Hebrew, tum tum means “stupid idiot.” SOJOURN has formed a teen group that intentionally chose the name Tum Tum. These youth weren’t going to allow language to tarnish a sacred identity.

Though Pride weekend is over, Pride month continues in Atlanta with lots of ways to celebrate gender and sexual diversity. Visit Atlanta Pride and SOJOURN to more about ongoing activities for the LGBTQ community and its allies.