Category

NextGen

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.

A Focus on NextGen Philanthropy

By Atlanta Jewish Foundation, NextGen, PHILANTHROPY

Lindy and Norm Radow: Giving Thoughtfully and Strategically

For Lindy and Norman Radow, philanthropy is about gratitude, of course. But even more, it’s about making an impact and leaving a legacy that expresses their highest values. By establishing The Radow Family Foundation and a donor-advised fund at Atlanta Jewish Foundation, they sat down with their adult children and did the thoughtful work of hammering out mission and vision statements and articulating the four pillars that support their generosity. It reads:

“Inspired by Jewish tradition and values, the mission of the Radow Family Foundation is to help improve the world by investing in organizations that lift up individuals through impactful programming and needs-based initiatives. The focus of our giving is defined within these pillars: educational, communal, pro-Israel and the arts. Priority is given to those causes which help support the continuity of our Jewish people.

“We both grew up in pretty humble surroundings,” Norman says. “I lived in public housing in Brooklyn, in the same neighborhood as investment banker Lloyd Blankfein. I guess we both did okay as adults,” he laughs.

Lindy lived in Mexico City, Ohio, and Europe before coming to Atlanta. Here she built a successful career selling telecommunications products and only retired two years ago, largely to focus full time on philanthropy and Jewish community building.

A committed couple since 2007, Norman and Lindy have been married for just three years. Lindy’s decision to join the Jewish people only amplified and accelerated the Jewish dimensions of their philanthropy.

“Early in our relationship, Norman asked me to go to synagogue with him, and I did. I immediately felt comfortable at Congregation Etz Chaim and felt a natural pull to Judaism. I also came to love the peace of Shabbat and the cycle of the Jewish holidays. It was important for me to have a Jewish wedding, so I studied with Rabbi Shalom Lewis and in time I became the first person to immerse for conversion at MACoM, Atlanta’s non-denominational community mikvah which I helped found.”

As a couple, the Radows also feel deeply bound to Israel. When Norman’s son left Atlanta to join the Israel Defense Forces as a “lone soldier,” they became ardent supporters of Friends of the IDF. Norman’s son made Aliyah and is raising a family in Israel — now that they have become grandparents, they visit Israel even more often.

Passing the philanthropic torch to the next generation is a top priority. Norman and Lindy’s daughter, Lisa Rose Hurd and her husband Joe live in Sandy Springs and are officers in the Radow Family Foundation. Joe has joined the Innovation Committee at Federation and the whole family is involved in something new from Atlanta Jewish Foundation.  “They’ve launched the Jewish Foundation Forum, which gives a group of us who have family foundations, large-scale DAFs and supporting foundations, a way to gather and discuss community issues and trends in philanthropy,” Norman says. “We’ve seen that some of the ways we give that were once the holy grail of charity have all but disappeared  — think the March of Dimes. Now that polio has been eradicated, it seems less relevant. Our group is excited about new ways and new vehicles to support the Jewish people. We know that millennials give differently and are excited about organizations like OneTable, InterfaithFamily, Honeymoon Israel, and other organizations that provide fresh connections to the tradition.”

As sophisticated investors, the Radows see Atlanta Jewish Foundation as an essential tool for managing wealth and leaving a legacy. They want to see more and more people use AJF’s expertise. Norman is upbeat about the special philanthropic advantages of donor-advised funds. He funded his DAF with partnership interests in his projects, which allowed him to take tax deductions at market value. As his projects sold, the DAF was the beneficiary of the cash distributions.

“I love how our investment in AJF supports the whole Atlanta Jewish community. It amazes and humbles me that such a relatively small Jewish community has created so many institutions and such a robust infrastructure from camps, to synagogues, to day schools, the Jewish Home and more! It’s rare and wonderful to see the love and commitment of so many people combine to build our future.”

40 Under 40 Trip to Israel

By COMMUNITY, NextGen

Our 40 Under 40 Mission to Israel is Federation’s first trip of its kind. Right before Rosh Hashanah, 40 talented young adults will embark on a week-long journey throughout Israel and experience dimensions seldomly explored on a mission. These participants from our NextGen community are a diverse mix of recent college grads living Intown and those just beginning their professional careers; young parents and single professionals working in fields like law, medicine, finance, non-profit, marketing and more. Eight have never been to Israel before, eighteen are Birthright alumni — more than half of whom have not been back since. They want to deepen their connections to Israel and to the Jewish community in Atlanta when they return. They’ve met in advance and prepped for the trip, knowing they’ll be encountering Israel’s innovation leaders in tech, business, government and spirituality. In addition to experiencing the beauty of Israel, they’re also ready to encounter the tough issues around pluralism and geo-politics that make everything in Israel “complicated.” We’re invested in building their leadership capacity and their advocacy for Israel and Jewish values.

I Honestly Didn’t Want To Leave

By Atlanta Birthright Community Trips, COMMUNITY, NextGen

When I signed up for my Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, I hadn’t thought much about being Jewish since my bar mitzvah at Temple Kol Emeth. My college years at Georgia Tech had been about the usual stuff – studying, football, swim team and my friends. This Birthright trip touched me in ways I didn’t expect. I honestly didn’t want to leave.

I’m too tall to sleep well on an airplane, so when we landed in Israel I was exhausted. But I couldn’t sleep. On the bus to Tiberius I kept looking out the window – Israel is so lush and green!

After spending a few days up North, my group headed to Jerusalem to celebrate Shabbat, my favorite experience of the trip. During this sacred time, six people on my trip, some of whom had never even been to synagogue, celebrated their bar/bat mitzvahs.  They learned the Torah blessings, studied the Torah portion and prepared personal stories about what this experience meant to them.  One participant wore his grandfather’s tallit for the service. It really heightened my awareness of what being Jewish means to me; even my thoughts about Judaism and marriage are evolving now. It’s important to me to raise Jewish kids.

This fall, I’ll be starting dental school at University of Florida. There’s an active Hillel on campus and I can join the International Jewish dental fraternity, Alpha Omega.  Birthright was my first trip to Israel, but I hope it won’t be my last.

Federation, in partnership with Birthright Israel Foundation, invests in subsidized Birthright Israel trips for young adults (ages 22-26) to deepen their Jewish identity and build lifetime connections to Israel.

Leadership Lessons on Birthright

By Atlanta Birthright Community Trips, COMMUNITY, NextGen

Five years ago, Maddie Cook traveled to Israel with Birthright Israel Atlanta. Her encounter with Israel came full circle when she became a leader on our 2019 Summer Birthright trip. Curiosity about Israel drove Maddie to sign up for her first trip. Creating community was her motivation to lead one.

“Growing up Jewish, I often felt like an odd one out, but traveling to Israel and experiencing it with people like me was incredibly comforting. Experiencing Birthright with people like me from Atlanta created a built-in community I never realized I had.”

“There were several new activities on this past Atlanta Birthright trip that were not part of my original trip. Some favorite additions include rafting down the Jordan River and visiting Buza Ice-Cream Parlor, an Arab-Jewish collaboration in the Galilee Region. Not only does it represent a beautiful story and partnership, but the ice cream is delicious.”

“Our time in Yokneam, Atlanta’s Partnership city, was very memorable. On my first visit, we only were there for an evening event. This time, we played soccer with kids from one of the local schools. Soccer is truly the international sport and ultimate language barrier breaker. In no time, we were laughing and playing with the kids. This part of the trip was a favorite among the group.”

“Staffing an Atlanta Birthright trip was perhaps even more rewarding than my first visit. I had the chance to shape and guide others experiencing Israel and exploring their Jewish identities. The relationships that developed over our ten days in Israel have now come stateside, and that’s not always an easy thing to do. It brings a smile to my face seeing people from our trip make plans to socialize, do Shabbat dinners and work on the itineraries for the Israeli soldiers visiting Atlanta in the coming months.”

What Does Secular Judaism Mean?

By Atlanta Birthright Community Trips, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, NextGen

By: Robin Glaubman

Just six weeks ago I traveled to Israel for the first time with 38 strangers on Atlanta’s Birthright Israel summer trip. Quite honestly, I’d never been around so many Jews in my life! I grew up never going to synagogue, attending one Passover seder, one bar mitzvah, and the only Jewish holiday we ever celebrated was Hanukkah. Still, I have always strongly identified as Jewish. I’ve called myself a Heritage Jew, meaning that I was not a religious Jew. The concept of being a “secular” Jew wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. I didn’t realize before the trip that it was yet another way to be Jewish.

Our Birthright bus ranged from people who attended synagogue every week and spoke Hebrew, to myself and eight others who struggled through a phonetic pronunciation of the Torah blessings during our bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies in Jerusalem, and just about every shade of observance in between. When we arrived in Israel we were told to make the trip about ourselves. Not to be self-absorbed, but to make sure we were experiencing our own authentic Jewish journey.  It was good advice. I never felt like my opinion wasn’t valid or didn’t want to be heard. I never felt like any less of a Jew than anyone else on the trip.

One night I had a conversation with a fellow secular Jew that really stands out in my mind. We were debating what were the most important aspects of being Jewish. Raising Jewish families? Supporting Israel? Studying Torah? His ideas startled me. And his definition of what is a secular Jew challenged me deeply.

For many years growing up he’d attended a havurah, which I learned is not a synagogue, but a group of people who get together for Shabbat and holidays, usually without a rabbi. He spoke some Hebrew, and he had a bar mitzvah at age thirteen. This shocked me! How could you call yourself a secular Jew and be so involved, so connected to Judaism as a religion. His definition of secular vs. religious hinged on whether or not a person believes in G-d.  He also implied that he could not be considered ‘religious’ because he was not Orthodox. This too shocked me. Growing up he was surrounded by Orthodox Jews, so that was what religious Judaism looked like to him.

To me, he was one of the most Jewishly connected people I’d ever met. I may have been one of the least connected Jews he’d ever met. And yet here we were in Israel, on a trip for Jewish young adults, attempting to reconcile some very macro-level questions of what it means to be Jewish. These were big conversations for me. And they’re big conversations for all of us.

While each day of Birthright was filled with a whirlwind of hikes, history lessons, monuments, water activities and limitless information, this conversation remains my biggest takeaway. There are no bad Jews. There are no lesser Jews. We all do Judaism differently and we all do it right. By making the trip about my own Jewish journey, I found a place in Judaism that I could call my own.