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Connect Jewishly Through Honeymoon Israel

By Jewish Journeys, NextGen Atlanta

“I never could have predicted the true impact of this experience—we had the most incredible trip that I am certain has changed our lives forever. We found new ways to incorporate Judaism into our family, we learned new perspectives, and most importantly, we found a new community to create and share memories with for years to come.” 

Allison & Sam, Atlanta 

For many young couples, it can be tough to find an entry point into Jewish life and decide how practices and traditions will shape their family. Honeymoon Israel offers a way in: immersive group travel to Israel lets couples from the same city encounter and explore history, tradition, and identity on their own terms.

The program engages couples in an open-ended inquiry into how they connect to Jewish life and how they’ll incorporate Jewish values and traditions into their families. Honeymoon Israel supports couples in their exploration of Jewish life and traditions and fosters the organic development of community. The journey continues once travelers return home through alumni events and programs.  

Honeymoon Israel builds groups that are reflective of the entire community, welcoming couples who are both Jewish, interfaith, Jewish by choice, multi-racial, LGBTQ+, with disabilities, married, unmarried, with or without kids, and more. Federation is proud to support the work of Honeymoon Israel in championing and engaging young couples in and around Atlanta.  

adults camping

Adult Summer Camp Is Almost Here

By NextGen Atlanta

Do you ever wish you could escape the daily grind and go back to Jewish summer camp? Well, now you can! Relive your days in the sun with s’mores, swimming, and campfire songs at Trybal South, the southeast’s Adult Jewish Summer Camp from Trybal Gatherings.

Trybal Gatherings offers innovative getaways for young adults to connect, explore, play, and celebrate in a socially Jewish context. Their adult summer camps are an opportunity to reconnect with Judaism and your inner kid. This year, Trybal South is August 10-13.

At this weekend getaway, choose from traditional camp activities (like Color War or bouncing your friends into the lake from The Blob), or original ones (like Bubbe’s Beer Garden and a silent disco). All campers get to experience a Shabbat Soirée and a Five-Senses Havdallah. Registration includes 4 days and 3 nights of lodging, all meals and snacks (yes, even the s’mores!), an open bar, and more.

Nathan Sauer, a 30-years old IT Project Manager who attended Trybal South, says, “I encourage anyone to sign up for Trybal. You’ll get an immersive experience that brings you out of your comfort zone and allows you to connect with other Jewish young professionals from all across the region, from all different backgrounds. It is a truly special and one-of-a-kind experience and is hard to grasp just how much of an impact it has on everyone involved until the end.”

To sign up for Trybal South, click here. Standard registration is open until June 30, so book your bunk now to reserve at the lowest rate. Federation is proud to support Trybal Gatherings and offer this incredible experience for young adults across the southeast.

Sign Up Now for a Shabbat Gather Grant

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Gather Grants, NextGen Atlanta, PJ Library Atlanta

Applications are open now for the next round of Gather Grants! Are you looking to grow your community? Have you considered hosting a Shabbat dinner, but feel like it might be too expensive? Apply for a Gather Grant this month and let Federation support your celebration!

The program gives $180 microgrants to individuals in the Atlanta metro area who host a gathering in their community for a designated holiday or initiative. The theme for the winter 2023 cycle is “Embracing and Elevating Shabbat.”

Gather Grant applications are open now and will be accepted until Tuesday, January 31. The gatherings which receive grants must be completed between February 1 and February 26.

Shabbat is arguably the most important holiday in Judaism—and it happens every week! Every seven days, we have the opportunity to rest and reflect with our loved ones. If you already host a Shabbat gathering, or if you would like to host your first one, sign up for a Gather Grant and let Federation help you celebrate.

Past Gather Grant recipients say:

“My husband and I just bought our home this year, and I had not before been able to host people in the way I can now. I always celebrated shabbat growing up and being able to host others this year really felt like an amazing full circle moment. Also, a friend who recently converted helped me plan; it was the first time she helped organize a shabbat meal!”

The biggest impact for my family was the ability to make new friends in our community. It is so important for my children to have Jewish friends to grow up with and see at services. Thanks to this program we are getting invitations to come for meals at the homes of the other participants. I am excited to watch these relationships grow.”

If you’re new to Shabbat, don’t worry. One Table says, “There is not one single way to celebrate Shabbat, so don’t worry that you’re going to do something wrong! Shabbat is always there for the taking and does not require anything fancy.” Their website is an excellent resource for first-time Shabbat-celebrators and hosts.

Your Shabbat event could be a sundown dinner, a Havdalah celebration, or a daytime Saturday gathering. There is no one way to celebrate Shabbat—get creative! Apply today for your Gather Grant and plan a Shabbat celebration to bring some warmth to the winter months.

Volunteering in and Exploring Mexico with Project TEN

By Jewish Journeys, NextGen Atlanta

By Amanda Budd
Last month, I had the pleasure of joining Hillels of Georgia in Mexico City for a trip with Project TEN. Project TEN is an initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel. They allow participants to travel to any Project TEN center across the world to volunteer in and explore the local community—all while meeting Jews from around the globe.

Our meaningful days were spent with middle school-aged students in Santiago, Yancuitlalpan. We engaged them in various thinking games such as charades, memory matching, and human knots. We volunteered in a local community center where we met younger children participating in an after-school camp with Project TEN. As the students’ maestros, we organized games and arts and crafts focused on the solar system.

We traveled to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan and arrived in Bernal, Mexico, for the start of the Shabbat. In this picturesque town, we saw the Peña de Bernal; this small mountain is a spiritual center for the area’s indigenous people.

Following Shabbat, our group returned to Mexico City, where we enjoyed a tour of the Frida Kahlo Museum and a river tour in Xochimilco. Our last day featured a historical tour of Mexico City, where we saw the first synagogue in the city and the first Ashkenazi synagogue right next door.

At any given moment, our group spoke English, French, Spanish, and Hebrew, reinforcing the idea of a global Jewish identity. We arrived in the program as strangers and left connected by our love for Judaism and our shared experiences in this incredible country.

To learn more about Project TEN, please visit https://project-ten.online/

$10K Scholarships Available for Gap Year in Israel. Apply now!

By NextGen Atlanta

Did you know your high school student doesn’t have to start college right after completing high school? In fact, taking a year-long break between high school and college — known as a gap year — often contributes to a boost in performance when students enter college. Students who participate in gap year programs, whether academic, travel-focused, or service-focused, frequently become more mature, self-reliant, independent, and college-ready than students who go directly to college. (Read more about the benefits of a gap year here.)

Supported by scholarships of $10,000-$15,000 from the Zalik Foundation, 25 Atlanta area high school graduates are currently on gap year programs in Israel, connecting with Israeli culture and with Israeli peers. JumpSpark, which manages the Atlanta gap year initiative, is excited to announce the scholarship program will continue for a second year. Now is the time to learn more about gap year options and apply.

Jennifer Pollock Crim reports that her son Jordan has been thoroughly enjoying his gap year in Israel. “Jordan went there not knowing one person and now has many friends he can identify with and share new experiences together. He has never tried new food and says he loves trying new food and traveling to see and learn about new places in Israel. He also is enjoying his internship and learning independence and time management – two things that were reasons for him to go in the first place. I highly recommend it!”

Richard and Sheryl Arno said about their son Adam, “This experience on a gap year program has far exceeded our expectations. Adam has grown in so many ways and he has taken advantage of and experienced so many wonderful things that Israel has to offer.  He has made some lifelong friends, not only from the participants but also from the wonderful staff of Year Course.”

Bev Lewyn reports: “Rebecca is having the best time. She has made great friends from around the world, enjoys the Jerusalem academic classes, and had a profound trip to Poland.”

Read a current gap year student’s story about life in Israel here.

 

Zalik Foundation Renews its Commitment to Gap Year Experiences in Israel

By NextGen Atlanta

If you have a high school senior thinking about a gap year in Israel, JumpSpark has wonderful news! The Zalik Foundation has renewed support for a second year of the Atlanta Israel Gap Year Scholarship pilot. For a second year in a row, select high school students will be generously awarded $10,000 towards a gap year program in Israel for fall 2022. JumpSpark will continue to manage this program which provides generous scholarships for a limited number of pre-approved, eligible Gap Year programs. (Learn more about eligible Gap Year options here).

Right now, 25 lucky students from Atlanta are having Gap Year experiences in Israel. They are exploring the desert, volunteering on kibbutzim, visiting high-tech startups, engaging in meaningful social action, and connecting with Israeli history. One of them is Ariel Goldt, a graduate of Walton HS, who chose the Nativ program for her gap year in Israel. She posts weekly on her adventures. Read some of her excerpts below.

Week 10: Last Shabbat on the Moshav (cooperative community) was such an amazing experience. I played Settlers of Catan entirely in Hebrew with 10-year-olds who didn’t know English while I didn’t know any Hebrew. Somehow, they won but I think something must have gotten lost in translation … or maybe the 10-year-old actually did beat me, but I guess we’ll never know! The family we stayed with did not speak English except for the grandma. The grandma’s daughter, her husband, and seven kids were also staying at her house this weekend. Oh, and a few other of her daughters were there so it was a busy house, but I loved it. Something exciting is always happening and I got to play with the baby all weekend! On Saturday we walked around and got a tour of the Moshav. It was beautiful.

Week 8: On Wednesday we went to a MASA event in Tel Aviv. It was SO much fun! The venue was so cute and Hativah 6 performed for us! We have been listening to their music a lot here, so it was so much fun to see them live! All of the gap year programs that are funded through MASA were there and it was nice to see all of our friends that are in Israel. That night we had a girls’ night in! We set up the laptop and watched Pitch Perfect, the first one obviously, because it’s the best. On Thursday we did some exploring around Jerusalem and found this pretty park! We walked around the park then grabbed lunch at the cutest cafe! That night our camp friend Jonathan was getting sworn into the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), so we went to his ceremony at the Kotel! I loved getting to see him and it was so special we got to be there for him!

Week: 7: This week we started our first official classes at Hebrew University! Now we have classes with other people in the international school. I have never been in one classroom with so many different denominations. Everyone I talked to was from a different country and it’s amazing hearing everyone’s unique perspective on the things we are learning in class! I am excited for the rest of the semester! The other night we last minute decided to go to a Hapoel basketball game! We lost at the buzzer, but it was still a really fun game!

 

ATL’s Moishe House Without Walls

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, NextGen Atlanta

We’ve shared stories in Fed5 about Atlanta’s four Moishe Houses (MH) where young adults live together and create meaningful, welcoming Jewish communities for themselves and their peers. Atlanta currently has Moishe Houses in Toco Hills, Virginia Highland, Buckhead, and a house for Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ) young adults in Brookhaven.  

But Moishe House also impacts Atlanta through a growing network of Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW) hosts. Here, individual hosts create Jewish experiences with support from the Moishe House organization. MHWOW hosts decide who they want to invite, where they want to host, what they want to explore in Judaism, and when they want to gather. Activities can range from Friday night Shabbat dinners, holidays, learning events, and cultural celebrations. 

In addition to MHWOW hosts in Intown Atlanta and inside the perimeter, we also now have three new MHWOW hosts in Kennesaw, Smyrna, and Cumming, thanks to the support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Making Jewish Places (MJP) microgrants initiative.  

Each host serves a different demographic and has a unique vision for their monthly MHWOW programming. programming. Additionally, an existing MHWOW host relocated from Los Angeles to Cumming in March 2021 and has been leading programming and building community.   

One host wrote about the vibrant and inclusive community she aims to create with ongoing MH support: “I want to engage with Jewish young professionals who are looking for a relaxed community of their peers. I am targeting those who may not feel comfortable joining a larger organization but want to socialize with a smaller group of friendly faces. My programming ideas are centered around the Jewish holidays, especially the lesser-known ones like Tu B’Shevat (terrarium making!), Shavuot (ice cream sundae bar!), or Tu B’Av (Galentine’s games!). For the more well-known holidayswe’ll try Sushi in the Sukkah, an interactive Seder on Passover, hamantaschen baking on Purim, a latke exchange on Hannukah, and themed Shabbat dinners.   

“My goal is to create a small but deeply connected group of openminded friends, who enjoy fun activities and celebrate Jewish holidays in a way that is meaningful to us, and to give back to our larger community through volunteering time/money.”   

In May, MHWOW host Zach Givarz took eight participants on a Shabbat weekend in the mountains. The group celebrated the beauty and love of Shabbat through food and celebrations.  

A group of women gathered, led by MHWOW host Leah Berryhill, to celebrate Shavuot and the spring harvest with roses and rosé wine. The participants made flower arrangements and took time to enjoy and connect safely outside at a local community park.  

MHWOW host Shira Colsky hosted an ice cream party with nine friends in honor of Shavuot. They discussed the history of this less-known Jewish holiday and enjoyed various homemade ice cream flavors! 

Learn more about MHWOW in our area, email: withoutwalls@moishehouse.org 

They Clicked from the First Phone Call

By AgeWell Atlanta, Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, NextGen Atlanta

Brian M., who lives near the JF&CS office in Dunwoody, stopped in at the beginning of the pandemic and asked how he might be of help. He filled out a volunteer application and was directed to Vivienne Kurland, Program Coordinator of One Good Deed, JF&CS’ friendly visitor program supporting older adults. 

His timing was terrific. One Good Deed was quickly pivoting to a Phone Friend Program connecting volunteers with older adults who were at heightened risk of loneliness and isolation due to COVID-19 guidelines. 

Sharon Spiegelman, One Good Deed’s Program Manager, and her partner Vivienne Kurland, had a match in mind. They had met with a man named Leonard shortly before the pandemic and had a good feeling about Brian and Leonard being a great match.  

To quote Brian, “This was a friendship that clicked from the first call!”   

The pair quickly established a close bond around a common interest — sports. “We’d recap what happened in sports, with no judgments, no matter what teams we root for.” After a FaceTime call, Leonard said, “I get a vicarious thrill out of hearing what you’re doing at your job.”  

As soon as both Brian and Leonard were both fully vaccinated, they arranged to meet. Brian had previously said on a FaceTime call, “I look forward to the day when it’s safe enough to meet in person.” 

Now it’s happening! So far, the pair have enjoyed lunch together and a tour of Tucker, where Leonard lives. Brian reciprocated with an incredible treat for Leonard who had not been to a baseball game in four years — he got tickets to a Braves game, and they sat right behind the dugout, where both enjoyed complimentary food and beverages! 

Learn more about supporting an older adult through One Good Deed. We also celebrate Sharon Spiegelman who is retiring from the program she managed and sustained for more than 15 years. Thank you, Sharon! 

Hillels of Georgia Partners with JF&CS on Student Mental Health

By Atlanta Jewish Community, NextGen Atlanta, People in Need

Elliott B. Karp, CEO of Hillels of Georgia, could see that Jewish college students across Hillel’s eight Georgia campuses were feeling isolated, anxious, and depressed. Requests for on-campus counseling services were pushed to their limits.

“Hillels of Georgia is committed to the wellbeing of our Jewish college students including their mental health,” Karp said. “Even before the pandemic, today’s generation of college students already exhibited the highest rate of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and unfortunately, suicide. COVID-19 only exacerbated this reality for our students. Given our commitment to being a Jewish ‘home away from home’ for our Jewish students, we felt an urgency to create Be Well With Hillel as a collaborative partnership with JF&CS.

Thanks to a generous $25,000 grant from Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, Be Well With Hillel is now providing free, virtual, confidential counseling services by a licensed clinician from the Frances Bunzl Clinical Services of JF&CS to any Jewish college student in Georgia.

Susan Fishman, the JF&CS clinician providing services, has an extensive background in college student counseling. She has found that virtual therapy works better than she imagined. “This is a modality that works especially well for college students. I’ve discovered that the stigma attached to mental health issues has dialed down a bit during the pandemic. Suddenly it’s OK to ask for help. Students are doing it earlier, not letting things build up to a crisis.”

Be Well With Hillel will continue to offer services throughout the summer, with a focus on transitioning to college in July and August and will provide group webinars on mental health and other issues as a way of providing support to Jewish students. Learn more here.

Because It’s Our Turn: Thoughts on NextGen Philanthropy

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Atlanta Jewish Foundation, NextGen Atlanta, PHILANTHROPY

Jonathan Arogeti always heard his parents and grandparents say that giving back to the community was a central family value. “They told us, you have three options with money — spend it, save it, or give it away. And they believed by far that giving it away, if you are able, was the very highest value. During this time in my life, I’m doing all I can to encourage my peers to get involved in philanthropic giving. It’s our generation’s time to build on and sustain this incredible Atlanta community.”

Arogeti vividly remembers how his family’s support for Hillels of Georgia brought the commitment home. “We all attended the dedication ceremony of the new Hillel building at Emory,” Jonathan says. “It was just a few years after my grandfather’s death, and there was so much meaning to see my grandmother’s pleasure at the depth and impact of this gift. I was in college, and it felt so relevant to my stage of life.”

Now, when he can direct his philanthropic giving, Jonathan works closely with Staci Eichelbaum, Atlanta Jewish Foundation’s Director of Philanthropic Advising. He serves as a mentor to Atlanta young adults who have grown up blessed with family resources. With Eichelbaum, Arogeti has led two cohorts of a four-month NextGen Legacy group that helps NextGen donors clarify their own philanthropic interests — and equally important, teaches them to initiate discussions about where they would like to see family resources allocated and how they can participate.

Arogeti explains, “When you are coming of age in a family with the capacity to be generous, we want you to think about what your philanthropic interests look like from a structural and decision-making standpoint. In the group, we ask, ‘Does your family let you speak up and participate in philanthropic decisions? If not, how can you get more involved?’ “

He adds, “When the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund was gearing up last year, we encouraged our Legacy participants to ask their parents if they were participating.  Some had never asked about these decisions before.”

Arogeti also empowers the NextGen Legacy groups to be very specific about their personal priorities. “For example, tell your family, ‘I’m interested in environmental projects that lower carbon footprint. How can you support me in that?’” Jonathan is a founding member of the Repair the World Advisory Council and makes his own gift, but he also asks his family to make a gift to amplify the commitment. “They do it because I asked them,” he says. “It’s tremendously empowering!”

“We’re a fortunate group, but we agree that talking about money is always hard — even with your parents. The idea is to get these conversations started. The first thing I ask each new group is, ‘How many of you told your families that we asked you to participate in NextGen Legacy?’ I’m frequently surprised by how many have not! Having peers on the same journey as you takes away some of the hesitancy and helps you learn what is possible.”

To learn more about NextGen Legacy, and upcoming cohorts, contact Staci Eichelbaum, Director of Philanthropic Advising, Atlanta Jewish Foundation.

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