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Moishe House Without Walls Energizing Jewish Life OTP

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

When you think of Moishe House programming, your first thought might be one of the four physical locations inside Atlanta’s perimeter, or one of the 150+ Moishe Houses spread across 30 countries around the globe. However, in Atlanta’s Northern suburbs, Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW) has emerged as a compelling Jewish nexus for young adults to “do Jewish” together. With support from Federation’s Making Jewish Places initiative, three young adult leaders, known as MHWOW “hosts” have cultivated a Jewish community of friends and peers away from Atlanta’s city’s center by offering consistent programming at least once per month. The hosts decide who they want to invite, where they want to host, what Jewish topics they want to explore, and when they want to gather. Activities can range from Friday night Shabbat dinners, holiday observances, learning events, to cultural celebrations.

Thanks to the support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Making Jewish Places (MJP) microgrants initiative, since July 2021, three MHWOW hosts – located in Kennesaw, Smyrna and Cumming – have successfully built Jewish community through 33 programs engaging 90 unique participants. “We are so grateful for the partnership that the Federation has provided since we launched this initiative in the North Atlanta suburbs,” said Dave Press, Senior Director of Advancement for Moishe House. “The demand for this programming has exceeded our expectations, and the leadership demonstrated by the MHWOW hosts has been incredible. We are so proud to be able to support these young adult leaders in their efforts to create and build community for their peers.”

Collaboration Celebrated at JPro Conference

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, Making Jewish Places

Earlier this month, 20 Atlanta Jewish professionals gathered in Cleveland for the JPro Conference, along with their counterparts from around the country. The theme was collaboration – a chance to unpack where Jewish professionals have been over the last two years of the COVID challenge and where we might go now, together. It was the first cross-sector gathering of Jewish community professionals since the pandemic began.

Our Atlanta professionals led two presentations that demonstrated the collaborative power of grass roots community building through our Making Jewish Places (MJP) Initiative. Atlanta is nationally known and admired for Making Jewish Places by many Federation communities. So, we were excited to share MJP’s strategic vision that empowers people to grow their own community in authentic and relevant Jewish ways.

An important MJP vehicle are our $180 Gather Grants which allow people to create their own Jewish events. Gather grants cross generational lines and are offered to young adults, PJ Library families, and families in targeted areas of Atlanta.  Past grantees have built community sukkahs, created Hanukkah block parties, even established a Jewish culture group in a 50+ community. Another example of MJP’s grass roots power is how it transformed an annual East Cobb/Roswell Hanukkah party from a top-down Federation organized event, to a collaborative, locally driven celebration that brought together several synagogues in the area.

Listen to Danniell Nadiv, Federation’s Senior Director of Jewish Journeys, Places and Welcoming, talk about the power and potential of Making Jewish Places.

Get a Gather Grant to Elevate Your Shabbat

By COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

Jewish Federation of Great Atlanta’s Making Jewish Places (MJP) initiative is pleased to offer a new round of $180 Gather Grants to make Shabbat experiences extra special. MJP grants are about you, your family, your friends and neighbors! If you have an idea for a way to make your Shabbat celebration more inclusive, more welcoming, or just “more fun,” please apply here. Applications are due by April 25, and awards will be announced by email on Friday, May 13.

Gather Grants help organizations and individuals create radically welcoming spaces and engage people right where they already live.  If you have questions, please reach out to Pam Cohen at pcohen@jewishatlanta.org.

By filling out a Gather Grant application, you agree to:

  1. Celebrate Shabbat (in a way that has meaning to you).
  2. Host an event with at least two other households.
  3. Post about your event on social media and include information about Federation’s Gather Grants.
  4. Fill out a post event survey about your experience hosting this program.

Canton GA’s Shalom Club — Way More Than Mah Jongg

By COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

The name Soleil at Laurel Canyon has a bit of a California ring to it, but actually it’s a 55+ residential community in Canton, GA.You might be surprised to learn that 110 out of 900 residents at Soleil are living in Jewish households, most of whom moved from all over the U.S. to be closer to their grandchildren and adult children. (Federation identified this trend in its last Community Study). You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Soleil’s Jewish residents launched a vibrant Jewish group called the Shalom Club, back in 2016. It is open to anyone in the community who has an interest in Jewish heritage and currently has 92 members!

Federation’s Relational Engagement Manager, Carla Birnbaum recently “discovered” the Shalom Club and its lively President Marvin Polikov. “They’ve truly made a Jewish place at Soleil, and Federation’s Making Jewish Places grant has supported several of their programs. Most recently club members came downtown to tour The Breman Museum’s History with Chutzpah exhibit”

Sure, some folks play mah jonng at Soleil, after all, most of them are retired. They love to look at life through a Jewish lens. The club had a virtual second night Passover seder. They built a sukkah for Sukkot. They baked hamantaschen for Purim. They decorated Soleil’s public spaces for Hanukkah. There is a Yiddish group, a genealogy group, a current events group, a book and movie group, and a Lunch Out group for meeting, eating, and conversation.

Many Soleil residents were synagogue members in their former communities, but for many, the Shalom Club gives them new ways to continue to engage Jewishly.

Marvin Polikov’s wife Sheila commented, Marvin and I were born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska where we were very active in many Jewish organizations such as the JCC preschool, B’nai Brith, ORT, Council of Jewish Women, and our synagogue.”

We moved to Georgia from the Midwest three years ago, mainly because two of our sons moved to Atlanta after they graduated college. They are both married, joined a Temple, and gave us five grandchildren. One of our granddaughters just celebrated her bat mitzvah. We love that Soleil has a viable Jewish community with the Shalom Club offering many educational activities and celebrations of all the Jewish holidays. Marvin and I have made many new friends because of the Shalom Club and have continued our involvement in our new community as we did in Omaha.”

Roberta B already lived in Atlanta but still found the move to Canton an adjustment. Moving to Soleil was a big life change. We didn’t know anyone here. And we were the only Jewish family in our section. I met several Jewish people through other friends from my previous neighborhood and from my teaching days in a Jewish day school here in Atlanta. When the Shalom Club was started, I became involved with activities and was on the original board for three years. I have made many wonderful friends through the Shalom Club. Many of us are originally from New York and even though we all have different backstories our Jewish faith gives us a common bond”

Ex-New Yorkers, Sunny L. and Arlene Z explain why they’ve joined. “We want to be a part of a Jewish organization. There is a strong camaraderie between Soleil residents and a stronger bond among other Shalom Club members. Living here in Georgia, and being Jewish, is not an easy combination. Things are very different here. A feeling of belonging motivates participation. Celebrating Holidays with others is just wonderful.”

These Shalom Club members are Jewish ambassadors. Rodney B.said, “What I value most is that the Shalom Club of Soleil provides a means for its Jewish residents, and non-Jewish residents who wish to belong, to gather, socialize, celebrate our heritage, and share our life experiences with one another.”

Birnbaum agrees. “The people I’ve met who live at Soleil are enthusiastic, confident Jews, who continuously create ways to engage in their faith. We can learn so much from them and I can’t wait to see what they plan next!” Contact Marvin Polikov to learn more about the Shalom Club.

The Sex Positivity Series Jewish Parents Asked For!

By Making Jewish Places

Many Jewish families want their kids to be exposed to sex education classes that take a “body positive,” Jewish approach to sex and puberty. Now, with grant support from Federation’s Making Jewish Places initiative (MJP), a program called EVERYbody is being piloted for 6th graders at Congregation Gesher L’Torah (GLT). EVERYbody is rooted in Jewish values such as: b’tzelem elohim (made in the image of God), kavod (respect), and v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha (love your neighbor as yourself).

After interviewing several local and national organizations, MJP partnered with SOJOURN (the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity) and the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta (JWFA) for funding to write the curriculum. This unique collaboration kicks off on Sunday, December 12, at Congregation Gesher L’Torah in Alpharetta. All sessions will be facilitated by a team of health educators.

Topics in the EVERYbody curriculum include:

  • Basic anatomy
  • Puberty and physical changes
  • Gender and sexual diversity
  • The impact of social media on self-image
  • Healthy relationship and sources of strength for positive mental health

Gesher L’Torah’s Education Director, Rebecca Gordon is excited about the series: “This much needed program has been requested by the community for years, and we are grateful to have partnered with SOJOURN to create a rich and appropriate series. These collaborations are what makes MJP programming successful and necessary to make Jewish Atlanta stronger. Our parents are thrilled!”

RSVP to hannahgesheratl@gmail.com.

June is Pride Month! Here’s How to Celebrate:

By COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

National Pride month is a special time: as President Biden said in a proclamation, “Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity.”  In June, SOJOURN, Atlanta’s advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ issues, will honor the beautiful partnerships and communities that are happening in Atlanta and continue to educate the Jewish community so that all children, teens, and adults feel worthy, affirmed, and valued.  

To celebrate Pride month, SOJOURN will be hosting a series of conversations via Instagram Live to educate, inspire, and connect with our community. Follow us @sojourngsd to tune in! 

 

Looking ahead to the Shmita Year

By CARING, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, Making Jewish Places

By: Joanna Kobylivker  

Community OrganizerGeorgia Interfaith Power and Light 

The Jewish Climate Action Network of Georgia (JCAN GA) is a newly formed chapter of the Massachusetts based Jewish Climate Action Network. We began as a small but concerned group of Jewish community members who came together to raise awareness and create solutions around climate change.  Our diverse group represents several congregations, from spiritual leaders to climate scientists to moms and dads who simply want an earth for future generations to enjoy. We strongly believe the Atlanta Jewish community has a unique opportunity to be part of the solution. 

Our specific mission is to promote environmental stewardship though Jewish community building. By coming together, we can: 

  • Inspire and mobilize Jewish communities to take leadership and participate in bold climate campaigns and reduce carbon footprints. 
  • Develop and provide infrastructural, informational, and educational resources to any and all Jewish groups: synagogues, community centers, day schools, camps, youth groups, parent groups, all of us.  

How will we do this? By working with strong community partnerships both in Atlanta and around the country who are already doing this important work. We are very excited to announce a partnership with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPLwith where I will be serving as a dedicated staff member, to Joanna Kobylivker, who will engage with our Jewish community.  

When will this work begin? It’s already started! JCAN GA members have already held several virtual events through partnerships with Repair the WorldLimmud Atlanta and Southeast, and various congregations.  

Much more is to come with the upcoming Shimta year.  The Shmita Year is part of a cycle analogous to the weekly Sabbath but taking place once every seven years as opposed to every seven days. Also known as the Year of Release, Shmita invites each of us to re-examine our relationship with the earth, with the Divine, and with one another. In the Shmita year, we rest alongside the land; we share the abundance of our landscapes as equals with one another and with the wild creatures; money is deemphasized; and debts are released.  

As a community, we are setting intentions and goals for how we will bring Shmita values to life in the form of environmental sustainability. Caring for our earth is part of being Jewish.  From the great philosopher Maimonides to the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, we are taught and reminded in countless texts of our duty to honor this beautiful earth that G-d created. We say prayers, celebrate holidays, and are always encouraged to be humble and grateful for what we have been given. We can demonstrate that gratitude by protecting the earth, and there is no greater time than now.  

New Microgrant Cycle for North Fulton & East Cobb: $25,000 is Available!

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

Federation’s Making Jewish Places initiative is entering its third year with a new round of microgrants for North Fulton and East Cobb. Our goal has always been to strengthen connections to the larger Jewish community, stimulate innovation and collaboration, distribute Jewish services across many neighborhoods, and meet people where they are.

Application due April 29, 2021; awards announced May 28, 2021 

https://jewishatlanta.org/what-we-do/our-initiatives/making-jewish-places/ 

Federation grantmaking investments in North Fulton and East Cobb have forged creative partnerships between nearly 30 organizations, all dedicated to enhancing Jewish life outside the PerimeterIt’s exciting to see organizations pool their talents and resources to make impactful Jewish things happen. To date, Federation has awarded 40 microgrants to
organizations and invested: 

  • $98,900 in microgrants 
  • $82,000 for largerscale projects  

For the next round of funding, we encourage anyone who has an idea to apply, whether you come from a large organization, small organization, or no organization at all. Applications are accepted and awarded on a rolling basis, up to $5,000. Questions: Reach out to Carla BirnbaumFederation’s Community Impact Associate. 

Mircrogrants Generate Amazing Collaborations!

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Making Jewish Places

Federation’s Making Jewish Places (MJP) continues to foster community partnerships like never before! In our latest round of microgrants, we’ve invested $25,500 into the North Fulton/East Cobb community, by green-lighting an array of collaborative proposals that meet Jewish needs around mental health support, communitywide holiday celebrations, young family programming, and adult education. It’s exciting to see organizations pool their talents and resources to make impactful Jewish things happen.

“With this latest round we have also grown our partnership network to nearly 30 unique organizations creating meaningful Jewish opportunities in North Metro Atlanta,” said Danniell Nadiv, Senior Director of Jewish Journeys, Places and Welcoming. For information on the next round of MJP microgrants, contact Carla Birnbaum. Anyone can apply, whether you come from a large organization, small organization, or no organization at all. Applications are accepted and awarded on a rolling basis, with awards of up to $5,000.

OUR NEWEST GRANTEES

  • Amy’s Holiday Party$5,000 to engage teens in the planning of the annual party that serves underprivileged children. With COVID-19, individual experiences are planned and implemented for all the agencies who normally attend Amy’s Party. Both North Fulton cohorts of Creating Connected Communities will develop and implement these experiences.
  • Blue Dove Foundation — $1,500 for community discussions on the emotional impact of COVID-19, including a multi-synagogue discussion surrounding Blue Dove’s Quieting the Silence book on mental health and addiction in the Jewish community.
  • Hanukkah House Challenge $5,000 for a Hanukkah program for the entire North Fulton community. This HGTV inspired competition involves 80 families who received an edible Hanukkah house kit to create and submit for judging. The winners will be announced at a virtual Hanukkah party hosted by the Bible Players. This celebration is a joint program of Congregation Gesher L’Torah, Congregation Dor Tamid & JumpSpark.
  • Keshet Ofek of North Fulton$3,500 Supporting a program and platform that empowers young Israelis and Jewish American families to connect and learn Israeli culture and Hebrew language. Interactive sessions will follow CDC safety protocols.
  • Mezuzah Project$5,000 for Gary Rosenthal hiddur mitzvah (beautifying the mitzvah) mezuzah art kits. This program encourages families to create artistic mezuzot for their homes. Participants have the unique opportunity to attend a workshop with Mr. Rosenthal. Joint project of Temple Beth Tikvah & Congregation Dor Tamid.
  • Support Group for Parents who Have Lost a Child to Suicide — $1,500 to an individual applicant for this important community support group. JF&CS will be partnering with an individual in the community for this support group.
  • PJ Library Family Microgrants — Microgrants of $100 each awarded to 35 families and neighbors for small holiday programs occurring round Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Havdalah or Shabbat.

Mitzvah Expo — $1,500 to help Atlanta Mitzvah Connection build a website that will help b’nai mitzvah age teens explore projects that benefit our community, presented in a virtual Expo. Jumpspark helped facilitate this discussion, which included several non-profit leaders and participants.

 

MLK Shabbat Suppers Celebrate Diversity & Dialogue

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Federation Innovation, INNOVATION, Making Jewish Places, NextGen, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

For Jews and their loved ones, Shabbat dinner is far more than a meal. It’s a weekly platform for holiness, hospitality, peace, plenty and conversation. With that in mind, Federation awarded a Bloom Innovation seed grant to several organizations who collaborated on ways to use MLK weekend as a moment to turn Shabbat dinners into opportunities for dialogue and understanding.

On the Friday preceding Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 144 individuals across Atlanta showed up for a “MLK Shabbat Supper,” a guided dinner and discussion to honor Dr. King made possible by the collaborative efforts of Repair the World AtlantaOneTable, the American Jewish CommitteeHands On Atlanta, and Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. There were ten simultaneous MLK Shabbat Suppers throughout the city, in neighborhoods ranging from Sandy Springs to the Westside. The religiously, racially and gender diverse group of hosts came from among the lay leadership of Jewish community partners including the above organizations, as well as Jewish Family and Career Services, Moishe House and The Schusterman Family Foundation.

Participants at the dinners enjoyed a meal while diving into a discussion guide filled with thought-provoking quotes and questions from a Jewish perspective about civil rights, racial justice and other issues of importance to Atlanta. Feel free to download the guide.

As OneTable Atlanta Hub Manager, Shira Hahn, put it, “By joining together at the table, we work towards creating new traditions that foster authentic and thoughtful engagement across difference to recognize our past and ideate a better future. Moving forward we will continue to build solidarity and greater understanding within the Jewish community and with all Atlantans.”

For those interested in further opportunities for service and dialogue, join Repair the World and partners for an anti-human trafficking event on January 27 and cooking for the Nicholas House family shelter on February 22; details and registration here.