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JEWISH JOURNEYS

First Came Oliver, Then Rosemary

By CARING, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS

The Blessings of Our Fertility Journey
by Scott Anklowitz & Sarah Ashton

Scott: When Sarah and I met as colleagues at AT&T, we clicked right away. We dated for a year and a half, and when we married, Sarah was 36 and already concerned about her ability to conceive. We knew we had to get started trying right away. Little did we know there would be fertility issues on both sides. We began to see fertility doctors in Atlanta and for the next year it was bad news after bad news.

Both of us turned out to be cystic fibrosis carriers. I had a rare chromosomal translocation, so we were both infertile for multiple reasons. After two unsuccessful rounds of IVF we did not produce healthy embryos. Our doctor was frank: “You can keep doing this, but the costs and emotional and physical stress are going to be intense.” It was. We took a break for a few months.

The unexpected turning point came when our financial advisor, Elie Engler, shared his personal experience working with the Jewish Fertility Foundation (JFF) to build his family. Elie was absolutely pivotal in directing us to JFF’s Fertility Buddies program. Connecting with JFF, especially as an interfaith couple, introduced us to other wonderful resources and opportunities in the Atlanta Jewish community. JFF partners with PJ Library, 18Doors, and with organizations that help build families. It has reconnected me to Jewish life and given our family a deep appreciation of Judaism we never imagined.

Sarah: Ultimately, we went the egg donor route and had success right away. Oliver was born in 2019 and then came Rosemary in September 2020. We are so thankful that JFF and Elie pulled us into something warm and embracing. Elie guided us that being Jewish is different for everyone and it was up to us to define what that means for our family – this made us feel embraced.” JFF found us, and it has become a real source of passion and strength.

During COVID we hosted a JFF virtual wine and cheese tasting with 18Doors, which works with interfaith families. Our gathering included other interfaith couples, couples dealing with infertility, gay couples, and other nontraditional families. Rabbi Malka, who leads 18Doors is now part of our life. We’ve talked about trying to make this gathering an in-person event, a couple of times a year.

I’m not super religious but everyone has made me feel welcome. Scott became a Fertility Buddy and joined the JFF board. We’ve been to JFF CEO and Founder Elana Frank’s house for Shabbat dinner. I’m enjoying exposing Oliver and Rosemary, and my own parents, to this tradition. We read PJ Library Books every night to Oliver. None of this would have happened if not for our infertility journey. We have finally found a community of people that feel like “our” community through JFF.

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

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

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

Frances Bunzl Family Trust Gifts $5.6MM to Atlanta Jewish Community 

By Atlanta Jewish Foundation, CARING, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, LIFE & LEGACY, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

In 1939, shortly after Kristallnacht, 19-year-old Frances Bertha Hamburger escaped Germany and eventually made it to Atlanta. The Jewish community here helped her connect with other European Jewish immigrants. A few years later, she met Walter Bunzl and three months later they were married. The family never forgot the support of the Atlanta Jewish community and now, the Frances Bunzl Family Trust will disburse an approximately $5.6MM gift in equal shares to Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (JF&CS). It is the largest endowed gift in both Federation and JF&CS’s history. 

“Frances was a visionary and a pioneer in communal service. Her personal experience as a lay leader inspired her desire to make a lasting imprint on our community,” noted Beth A. Warner, Federation’s Chief Philanthropy Officer. “This gift was many years in the making. Federation professionals and communal leaders met with Frances to discuss community priorities and goals to help her create a legacy that reflected her life-long philanthropic passions,” she explained.   

At Federation, the endowed funds will be directed for three initiatives. This includes funding the lead fundraising professional for the organization – the Frances Bunzl Chief Philanthropy Officer – the first time a Federation position has been endowed; the creation of the Frances and Walter Bunzl Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment (PACE), which will ensure a major gift to Federation’s annual community campaign in perpetuity; and funding the Frances Bunzl NextGen initiative to support Jewish journeys for the next generation of Jewish community leaders. “It is also our hope that this endowment will inspire others to consider gifts of this magnitude and impact,” said Warner.

Generosity has always been a core value for the Bunzl family.   

“Throughout her life, my mother spoke of growing up in a family (both in Germany and here in Atlanta) that was focused on helping others,” said Suzy Wilner. “We believe her gifts to Federation and JF&CS will continue that legacy.” 

Jeff Alperin, Chair of the JF&CS Board commented, “This gift increases the JF&CS Foundation by 50%. This will have a direct impact on the agency’s ability to serve the needs of the Atlanta community. We are honored to receive this gift and will make sure these dollars are used to deliver the greatest impact.” 

At JF&CS, the generosity of Frances Bunzl will live on in perpetuity through its continued support of the nonsectarian agency’s operations. In honor of this generous gift, JF&CS will name its Clinical Service practice, ‘The Frances Bunzl Clinical Services.’ This service area provides mental health support for people of all ages and from all walks of life, offering both individual and group therapies across a broad spectrum of issues. “Naming this practice for the late Frances Bunzl honors the tremendous impact her gift will have on the health and well-being of our community,” said Chief Development Officer, Amanda La Kier.  

JF&CS CEO, Terri Bonoff said, “The challenges of the past year underscore the importance of planning for the unknown and ensuring vibrant Jewish life for generations to come. Choosing to spotlight the importance of mental health support by naming this service area in Frances Bunzl’s honor reflects the deep commitment JF&CS has to providing best-in-class support for the health and well-being of this community. Legacy gifts such as this one support Jewish Atlanta long into the future.” 

“This gift is indicative of the generosity we hope to inspire as part of our LIFE & LEGACY initiative, in which participating organizations embark on a legacy building program benefiting the entire Jewish community,” said Federation President and CEO, Eric Robbins. 

In the first two years of this four-year program, more than 270 local donors have made legacy commitments which will support Atlanta’s Jewish community with more than $23.3 million in future gifts. Worldwide, the LIFE & LEGACY program has motivated more than 17,000 donors in 63 communities across North America to commit more than a billion dollars in current as well as after-lifetime assets to the Jewish organizations which shaped their lives. For those interested in creating a legacy for the Jewish community, contact the Atlanta Jewish Foundation at foundation@jewishatlanta.org or www.atlantajewishfoundation.org. 

Photo courtesy of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

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.”

Virtual Learning Wasn’t Cutting it for their Kids: Thanks to ALEF Fund, they’re an Epstein family now

By ALEF Fund, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, PHILANTHROPY

When DeKalb County Public Schools announced that they would start the 2020-21 school year virtually, Susan and Scott Rosenbaum were worried.

“We were desperate for a safe, high quality, face-to-face learning option. Our second-grade son had a miserable spring with worksheets and videos. He needed a small class and a real live teacher. Our daughter was entering kindergarten. We wanted her to learn with other kids, not on a computer.”

“We toured The Epstein School and loved their model — two teachers in each classroom, small class size, and the wonderful mix of Judaics and secular studies. But tuition for two kids was not do-able for us. When we learned we qualified for scholarship support for both kids through ALEF Fund we were overjoyed. “

“This year at the Thanksgiving table when we went around to say what we were thankful for, my son said, ‘I’m thankful for my awesome school.’”

Susan and Scott were contributors to ALEF Fund even when their kids were in public school, years before they transferred to a Jewish day school. They knew it was an easy way to take the state taxes they’d have to pay anyway and turn them into scholarships supporting 20 different Jewish day schools and Jewish preschools in Georgia. “Everyone should support ALEF Fund,” Susan says. “The impact is huge.”

ALEF Fund needs you to support Jewish education! Hurry and renew your pledge. You have until December 31 to apply for a 2021 tax credit. Don’t miss this opportunity to support Jewish education. Our website, aleffund.org, is open for pledges. Renewing is easy — just log on as a returning user and follow the prompts. If you need assistance, call Rachel Rosner at 404-870-1879 and she will be happy to assist you.

As a past participant, you know that ALEF Fund is a win-win: redirecting state tax dollars to scholarships for hundreds of families a year.

Shinshinim Life

By GLOBAL JEWRY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, Shinshinim Atlanta

SHINSHINIM LIFE
By Amit Toledo

When the Shinshinim landed in Atlanta on September 27, I was feeling excited about the unknown and ready to tackle the two weeks of quarantine. Yet I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I was actually here. There were so many times over the last many months when all of us were worried the program would be cancelled for the year.
My adventure only began to feel real when I met my family, the Seitz’s, over Zoom just a few weeks before boarding a plane to Atlanta. I learned very quickly that they were the epitome of the “All American Atlanta Family” with their photo of the Braves in the background. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with my host sister Barri, who showed me her bedroom as we began getting to know one another.
Spending Yom Kippur and Sukkot in quarantine was the beginning of a new chapter in my adventure. Being quarantined with my Shinshinim cohort I learned quickly how to lean on and trust my new friends and colleagues. We cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and bonded over the two weeks in a beautiful Airbnb in a Roswell neighborhood. (I recommend the quarantine experience for future Shinshinim, not for Covid-19 but for bonding purposes.)
Many different supervisors, rabbis, Israeli community members, as well as current and past host families came to visit us and shared their experiences with our new group. It was overwhelming but I took it all in and learned a lot about the Atlanta Jewish Community.
I was nervous as I entered my new host home for the first time but quickly felt at ease. Though I expected it to feel awkward, it felt both natural and overwhelming — in the best way possible. Of course, the Braves were on TV, the energy was high, and my first American Shabbat dinner of hamburgers was delicious. Our family hike was the topping on the cake!
I’m very excited to see all of Atlanta and am looking forward to making an impact and seeing the changes that will happen in the year to come.

Home Away From Home

By GLOBAL JEWRY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, Shinshinim Atlanta

HOME AWAY FROM HOME
by Saren Schapiro, Host Family to Shiraz Bar Haim

Why did you choose to host a Shinshinit? What were you and your family hoping to gain?
Over the last few years, our family has seen the incredible experience our friends had hosting teens from Shinshinim Atlanta. Also, our two girls had unforgettable experiences learning with the Shinshinim at their Hebrew school at Or Hadash. When life slowed down this year and forced us to be home from work and school, the opportunity to devote time and attention to a Shinshinit was there. We signed up right away and were so excited when we heard that we would be hosting! I hope this year will be a year to remember for both our kids and Shiraz. We are excited to gain a daughter, big sister, and lifelong connection to Israel.

Tell me about your family’s feelings during the application process.

We were hopeful! No one really knew whether this year would happen or how it would look. We really just went with it, put ourselves out there, and looked forward to a unique opportunity.

So, you heard that you were chosen as a host family. It took a while to be officially introduced to your Israeli daughter. When you were introduced, how did the first meeting go? How did your family begin preparing for her arrival? What were your thoughts, plans, and emotions during this time?
That’s right! We didn’t find out this was happening until very close to the arrival time. The minute we found out Shiraz was paired with our family, we set up a time to FaceTime with her and her family in Israel. We met her mom, dad, and sister, and asked her all about herself. We showed Shiraz her new room as our girls jumped around in the background with excitement! Getting our guest room ready for her was a good incentive to do a little organizing around the house!

Tell me about the drive-by meeting on the day of Shiraz’s arrival. And then the Shinshinim’s two-week quarantine. How did your family manage that?
Meeting Shiraz that first day during the drive-by of their quarantine house was awesome! The girls made big Welcome signs, we brought our puppy along, and got to connect in person for the first time. We were able to get a feel for Shiraz’s personality and communication style. The two-week quarantine was HARD!!! We just wanted to hug her already! Shiraz’s birthday fell on the second day she was in Atlanta, so we were able to bring her a birthday cake and delicious lunch for an outdoor socially distanced party. We visited Shiraz in quarantine a few times over the two weeks, which really allowed us to get to know her. I was shocked and happy to see how quickly she clicked with my kids and was excited to engage with them and play, and how easily she seemed to fit into our family.

Tell me about Shiraz’s first week with you. What were the things you did together to begin the bonding experience?
The first day Shiraz was with us, we spent a quiet afternoon helping her unpack, showing her around the house, and exchanging gifts. Shiraz is such a kind, thoughtful person. She brought gifts for the kids, lots of games and toys, and asked them to help her unpack. They had a blast! My girls gave Shiraz a big basket of things we bought her to help her settle in. The first two nights Shiraz was here, my husband and I, and Shiraz stayed up late and talked forever. We discovered that Shiraz is an incredible young lady, very mature and insightful, with so many ideas and views. Over the first week we have been cooking (shnitzel night was the best!), hiking, playing, talking, having Shabbat dinner, watching movies, and making s’mores! Shiraz has quickly and easily fit into our family and made our house feel complete. We love her already!

How They’re Serving Jewish Atlanta

By GLOBAL JEWRY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, Shinshinim Atlanta

What does it mean to be a Shinshin in the midst of a global pandemic? It means summoning up courage and curiosity, dedication and drive! These young Israelis have already shown us they have all of that! The five Schoenbaum Shinshinim are currently working with over 25 Jewish and non-Jewish institutions in the Metro-Atlanta area this year — in person more often than not! Each Shinshin(it) spends time in our Jewish Day Schools between 2-4 days per week, and then in the afternoons and evenings they may engage in an after-school Hebrew School or youth group through Zoom.

Some of our synagogue religious schools have classes in person, some in a hybrid model, or on Zoom over the weekends. We are constantly finding creative ways to reach organizations that we were unable to add to our weekly calendars. The Shinshinim recently participated in Senior Week at the MJCCA, leading a program called “Growing up in Israel” where they shared their personal stories, their thoughts on serving in the IDF, and life in Israel during COVID-19. We plan to share a lesson on social media about the Ethiopian Holiday Sigd and will also amplify the MJCCA celebration of Hanukkah. 

We hope you will have a chance to interact with one of these inspiring and interesting young Israelis in the coming months.

JFF EXPANDS ITS REACH

By CARING, INNOVATION, JEWISH JOURNEYS, People in Need

It is a great heartache to want a child and not being able to conceive. Whether you are a couple or an individual wanting children, it is utterly demoralizing to see others sail through pregnancy when you cannot, and it is agonizing to discover that many reproductive technologies are financially out of reach.

It took a local Atlanta innovator, Elana Frank, to bring insights from Israel, where IVF treatments are affordable, back home to Atlanta where she launched the Jewish Fertility Foundation (JFF). Over the course of five years, this Federation Innovation grantee has had outsized impact on our Jewish community. JFF provides financial assistance, emotional support, and education for those in the Jewish community facing medical infertility. JFF’s mission and ambition is exactly what we look for in an Innovation grant recipient — a remarkable idea with potential for great impact in the Jewish world, and a team with genuine dedication to its success.

“With our initial grant from Federation Innovation, we were able to create a program which is literally now being implemented across the country” says Elana Frank. “We believe in partnerships, and that community investment is so important to our process. Innovation in Atlanta has gotten us where we are today.”

Elana and her team have more than delivered, and we won’t apologize for the pun! We’ve watched the Jewish Fertility Foundation enable the birth of 49 babies (so far!) and blossom into a network of support that is scaling beyond Atlanta. We continue to be inspired by their tenacity. With our support JFF was initially able to create a community support program specifically for the Atlanta orthodox community, as well as establish Fertility Buddies, an emotional support program which has been replicated nationally and continues to grow.

Since their first round of funding, JFF has been able to substantially expand their reach throughout the Jewish community, offering emotional support and resources for single mothers, multi-faith couples, and all those facing fertility challenges. “The Jewish Fertility Foundation embodies what we hope for in a grantee relationship at Innovation” says Jori Mendel, VP of Innovation. “We share the same belief in the power of community as JFF. Their contributions and participation in offerings like Path by Plywood and Propel grantee mentor cohorts show that working together makes us all stronger in our endeavors. JFF’s continual growth and success is a testament to that.”