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How Federation Supports Mental Health

By People in Need

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. After the tumult of the last several years, there is, thankfully, more focus than ever on the importance of proper mental healthcare in all our lives. The theme for this year’s observance month is “More Than Enough,” because every person has inherent value—no matter your diagnosis, socioeconomic status, background, or ability. You, as you are, are more than enough 

Here are a few ways Federation supports mental healthcare: 

  • Federation partners with The Blue Dove Foundation, which aims to address mental illness and addiction in the Jewish community and beyond. They work with organizations and communities—both Jewish and interfaith—across the country and around the world. Click here to access their free resources for Mental Health Awareness Month 
  • Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) supports the health of Jewish Atlantans in many ways, and that includes mental health. They offer counseling for people in every stage of life, from children to older adults. Their therapists accept most insurance and offer private pay options, as well as sliding scale fees. Click here to explore the full range of clinical services.  
  • BeWell supports Jewish youth facing mental health challenges as well as those that care for them. In March, BeWell Atlanta was launched thanks to a $500,000 matching grant from the Zalik Foundation, secured through the Atlanta Jewish Funder Collaborative led by the Atlanta Jewish Foundation. This will allow for the hiring of more professionals and the expansion of services at JF&CS’s Frances Bunzl Clinical Services. The National arm of BeWell hosts monthly Resiliency Roundtables themed around mental health topics. May’s session is Community Approaches & Clinical Insights to Youth Suicide Prevention. The online workshop is May 23, 2023 at 2 PM; click here to register.  
  • In The City Camps (ITC) recently announced that their strength-focused mental health staff training program is now available. Federation supported them in adopting this curriculum, thanks to a grant from our Innovation Initiative. The curriculum is available to all camps nationally this summer and will better prepare staff for the challenges that can occur during camp sessions.  

Mental health affects every area of a person’s life, and it is so important that Jewish Atlantans can access care and education before they are in crisis. By giving to Federation, you’re supporting these and other programs that connect people to the help they need.  

Project Dignity Collecting Products for Menstrual Hygiene Day

By People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

Project Dignity, an initiative of Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, raises awareness about period poverty and its effects on women and girls. This year, Project Dignity is observing National Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 by collecting donations of menstrual products.

Periods are a fact of life for just about half the world’s population, but not everyone who has a period gets to experience it with dignity. Many women, girls, and others who menstruate suffer from poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to menstrual products, and poor sanitation infrastructure. This can undermine the educational opportunities, health, and overall social status of women and girls and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

This video from Bustle highlights how difficult it is for unhoused women to manage their periods:

Menstrual products collected through Project Dignity are distributed to four organizations on an ongoing basis: JF&CS Food Pantry, CHRIS 180, Solidarity Sandy Springs, and the Sandy Springs Community Assistance Center.

To get involved, you can:

  • Bring your donation of menstrual pads or tampons to Federation’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 31 at the Selig Center
  • Visit our Amazon Wishlist to donate menstrual products
  • Volunteer to deliver collected products to our local partners or
  • Arrange Drop Off by contacting or 404-870-1618

It is imperative that we look out for women and girls in Atlanta, and make our city a safer, healthier place to have a period. Project Dignity is an opportunity to practice tikkun olam, repairing the world, and we invite you to join us in this effort.

Thank you for your support of this important cause.

The Project Dignity Committee:

Amy Arogeti, Marcy Bass, Caren Merlin, Lori Peljovich, Jessica Sacks

For any questions, please contact Becca Langfelder at or 404-870-1618.

Jewish HomeLife Offers In-Person Caregiver Support Groups

By Atlanta Jewish Community, People in Need

“Caregiver burnout is real, particularly for those caring for loved ones with dementia or other age-related conditions,” said Jeffrey A. Gopen, President and CEO of Jewish HomeLife. “Just being with others facing similar challenges can offer new ideas and help reduce feelings of isolation and depression.” To address this problem, two of Federation’s partners, Jewish HomeLife and Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS), have teamed-up to offer support groups for caregivers in Atlanta.  

The support groups are free to the community and open to all. Sessions are led by excellent facilitators from Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS).  “These facilitators can provide information, resources, and strategies that give participants a sense of control and perspective and help them know they are not alone,” Jeffrey says.  


The Cohen Home’s support group
Third Thursday of each month from 6:00-7:00 PM
10485 Jones Bridge Road in Johns Creek, near Dolvin Elementary at Buice Road 

Berman Commons’ support group
Third Tuesday of each month from 6:30-7:30 PM
2026 Womack Road in Dunwoody, adjacent to the MJCCA 

Walk-ins are welcome, but RSVPs are appreciated. Participants can attend as often or as little as needed. Refreshments are provided. 

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta proudly supports the work of Jewish Home Life and JF&CS. The money raised during Federation’s Community Campaign is granted to our partners, and we are proud to support vital programs like these that benefit the hardworking caregivers of Atlanta. 

For more information or to RSVP, please contact: 

The Cohen Home/Johns Creek: Jyl Batterman, or call/text 404.434.2618 

Berman Commons/Dunwoody: Amanda Hamilton, or call/text 678.602.5693 

How Federation Supports Ethiopian Jews

By CARING, Global News, People in Need

During Black History Month, we celebrate and commemorate the history of the African diaspora. In the United States, we often think of this month through the lens of African Americans, but it’s important to recognize much of Black History does not involve the U.S. Indeed, there are Black Jews all over the world, and their history is our history. One of the largest and most well-known Black Jewish communities is from Ethiopia, and Federation supports initiatives that help Ethiopian Jews and amplify their stories.  

The Beta Israel of Ethiopia are one of the oldest Jewish diaspora communities, in existence for over 1500  years. Across the centuries, this community has weathered poverty, persecution, war, and the threat of conversion. Many Ethiopian Jewish people have made Aliyah and now reside in Israel, having managed to escape the turmoil in their country of birth. But once in Israel, it can be difficult to assimilate.  

Since the current war in Ethiopia began in 2020, a new wave of olim have come to live in Israel. The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) is one of Federation’s biggest partners, and they work closely with olim before they even leave Ethiopia. JAFI provides security on the ground in Ethiopia, pre-Aliyah medical and administrational preparation, and nutritional support programs in Addis Ababa and Gondar. Once in Israel, olim move into one of 15 absorption centers that cater to the cultural needs of Ethiopian immigrants and continue to receive Jewish Agency housing while they complete their absorption process. At JAFI centers, they receive comprehensive support services, Hebrew lessons, after-school academic enrichment for the children, opportunities for vocational training, and much more. 

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta also works with our partner region in Israel, Yokneam-Meggido, on programs to help Ethiopian immigrants settle into their new communities once they leave JAFI housing. Funds from Federation go to initiatives to boost educational achievements among students, increase parent engagement in children’s schooling, connect children and teenagers to Community Center classes and youth movements, improve the quality of life for Amharic-speaking residents by closing language and cultural gaps, and detect developmental delays in young children, and much more.  

Here in Atlanta, Federation is proud to fund the work of the Atlanta Jews of Color Council (AJOCC) through our Innovation initiative. AJOCC aims to use the arts to drive belonging for Jews of Color in Atlanta. This year, AJOCC is hosting Jewish Ethiopian actors, producers, and filmmakers who are teaching and exhibiting their work in Atlanta. Shai Ferdo, an actor and filmmaker, is the star of Exodus 91, the film sponsored by Federation in this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. He is teaching as an adjunct at Clark Atlanta University this semester, and since arriving in Atlanta, he has spoken on a panel with the American Jewish Committee and given a talk at the Weber School about his experience as an Ethiopian Jew in Israel. Many Ethiopians who immigrate to Israel experience anti-Black discrimination, and he has spoken candidly about the need for Jews of Color to be recognized as fully Jewish in predominantly white-passing communities. AJOCC is sponsoring his stay in Atlanta, as well as other artists.  

Black Jewish History is integral to the history of Judaism across the world; we cannot speak of Jewish history without speaking of the diversity within our global community. 

Give to Earthquake Relief in Turkey and Syria

By People in Need

Last week, Turkey and Syria were struck with a deadly earthquake, with a death toll above 11,000 and still rising. The Jewish community in Turkey has been hit hard; the president of the Antakya community, Saul Cenudioglu, and his wife, Fortuna, both perished, and the town’s synagogue was partially destroyed.

Federation’s core partners, the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), have had professionals on the ground since the earthquake hit. They have been supporting the Jewish community there and are also providing broader humanitarian assistance. Federation is also in close contact with the Israeli government and other organizations that are assisting in relief efforts.

Jewish Federations of North America has started a fund so that those who wish to provide emergency support may do so quickly and directly. Federation’s established committees for international emergency response will ensure that any funds received are directed immediately to the greatest needs.

This tragedy is a reminder of the importance of Federation’s global humanitarian network, which is supported through our annual campaign. The donations made to Federation’s Partners Fund ensure that we can spring into action the moment a crisis strikes.

Pinch Hitters Step in on Christmas Day

By Atlanta Jewish Community, People in Need

There are several stereotypes about what Jews do on Christmas Day—like eat Chinese food or go to the movies. But what about acts of community service? For many Jews, Christmas Day is an opportunity to step up for their friends and neighbors.

B’nai B’rith’s Pinch Hitters do just that. The Pinch Hitters include members of Achim/Gate City Lodge, plus hundreds of other Jewish Atlantans. Every year on Christmas Day, they volunteer at area hospitals and assisted living facilities so non-medical personnel who celebrate Christmas can take the day off to be with family.

Pinch Hitters began in 1980 with just 18 volunteers at one hospital. This year, hundreds of volunteers will spend the day at nine local hospitals and assisted living centers. Over the years, Pinch Hitters has become a tradition for many families. On December 25, 1990, President George H. W. Bush awarded Pinch Hitters the 355th Daily Point of Light Award.

This year’s facilities include Veterans Administration Medical Center, Dunwoody Place, Historic Place of Roswell, William Breman Jewish Home, Solana of East Cobb, Berman Commons, Georgian Lakeside and The Cohen Home. Volunteers work in four-hour shifts, from approximately 7 to 11, 11 to 3, or 3 to 7.

It is invaluable to give back to the hardworking staff of these essential facilities, who do so much for so many. It is incredibly special to walk a mile in their shoes while they enjoy some well-deserved rest time on a holiday that is meaningful for them. The Pinch Hitters program is a real mitzvah.

If you would like to become a Pinch Hitter, visit their website at For any questions, call Harry Lutz at 678-485-8179.

AgeWell Atlanta to Hold Informational Webinar on Dementia

By Atlanta Jewish Community, People in Need

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Did you know that 1 in 9 adults over 65 (and 1 in 3 adults over 80) experience cognitive decline? Dementia is a common health problem, and an intensely emotional one for individuals who have it, as well and their loved ones. AgeWell Atlanta is hosting an informational panel to arm community members with knowledge in the fight against dementia.

Join JF&CS Geriatric Care Manager Wendy Liverant, MBA, and Wellness Care Specialist and Dementia Services Coordinator, Samantha Freeman, MSW, for Let’s Talk about Dementia, an informative and real discussion on caring for loved ones with dementia. Shari Bayer, CMO of Jewish HomeLife, will share information and resources offered by Jewish HomeLife. Moderated by AgeWell Atlanta Program Manager Jennifer Curry, this seminar will provide resources for strengthening memory and guidance for helping family members with love, hope and dignity.

This free program is Friday, November 11 at noon and will take place over Zoom. This webinar will provide information and resources for families who have a loved one experiencing dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and other memory challenges. We will discuss the emotional, physical, and financial challenges when a loved one has dementia and share community resources from Aviv Older Adult Services of JF&CS, Jewish HomeLife, and the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. A Q&A will follow the panel.

If someone you love is suffering from cognitive decline, you are not alone. Join AgeWell Atlanta for an afternoon of learning and connect with experts.

Click here to register for Let’s Talk About Dementia

Atlanta Created Federation’s Model for Disaster Relief

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, People in Need

You probably know that the Jewish Federations of North America are uniquely poised to respond to domestic disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, and terrorist attacks. But did you know that the infrastructure for this rapid response was developed in Atlanta?  

Barry Swartz and his family arrived in Atlanta in July 1989. Now, Barry is the Vice President of Conexx, the America-Israel Commercial Alliance, but at the time he worked for the Council of Jewish Federations (CJF). In September, just before the High Holidays, Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, South Carolina. Hugo affected approximately 2 million people in and around Charleston; 67 people lost their lives, and the storm inflicted $11 billion in damage. 

The continental Jewish Federation system quickly discovered they had no plan to respond to domestic emergencies. Lois Frank, a senior volunteer leader at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, traveled with Barry to Savannah, where they connected with a small group of national Federation leaders. The group then drove to Charleston to meet with community leaders and view the devastation first-hand. 

Barry worked with Marilyn Shubin and David Sarnat from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta to coordinate the delivery of needed supplies. Thanks to Barry’s national Federation ties, Atlanta became the Jewish epicenter for providing material aid to the region. Power tools, industrial generators, kosher food, and challah for Rosh Hashanah were all transported to the disaster zone. The Charleston Jewish Community Center became the American Red Cross distribution hub for the entire area for food, water, diapers, and other necessities. The idea of using Jewish facilities as a hub for the community as a whole would be modeled in many other emergencies over the next thirty years, including Hurricane Andrew in South Florida.  

The national Jewish community raised millions of dollars for the general relief effort and to repair Jewish institutions. The area was rebuilt thanks to the generosity of Jews throughout the country. And crucially, Jewish Federations developed a method for responding to domestic disasters that is still used today.  

We are thankful for the work of these leaders so many years ago as our friends and family in Florida recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. While the storm has passed, the cleanup efforts will be ongoing for months. You can donate to the national Federation recovery effort and be part of getting Jewish Florida back on its feet. 

Inside the Allocations Process

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, People in Need

By Avery Kastin

I’ve always heard that a gift to Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta supports the entire Jewish community. But what process ensures that those funds are wisely distributed? It seemed so opaque from the outside. It wasn’t until I became a volunteer on Federation’s Allocations Committee that I saw firsthand the incredible work we do.

See how we make allocation decisions.

The scale of our work is vast: Over 60 volunteers plus numerous Federation staff work year-round to identify and evaluate those organizations that will 1) take care of Jews in need and 2) build a stronger Jewish community today and tomorrow. Everyone is committed to the same goal: making informed decisions on how best to allocate the dollars Federation has raised.

The work of our committee is year-round: we have detailed discussions and site visits with partner organizations, address overlooked needs within our community, identify future issues that could impact our neighbors, and study best practices and trends in the Jewish world. Last year, those efforts culminated in our Allocations Committee distributing over $23 million in Jewish philanthropy to over 70 partner organizations!

Yes, the community has entrusted us with an enormous responsibility, but it is also the most wonderful and rewarding volunteer job. We facilitate all the good made possible by our collective Federation dollars. Together we create a more caring, more connected and stronger Jewish Atlanta.

We need your help to further our sacred work. Pease consider joining the Allocations Committee, a pearl of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and help us shape our future together.

Avery Kastin is Vice Chair of the Community Planning and Impact Cabinet

AURA Funding Needs Increase as More Families Arrive in Atlanta

By Global News, People in Need

Many Ukrainians are arriving in Atlanta with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They are not eligible for government relief programs and have no access to food stamps, medical intervention, or housing assistance. The need for funds to support them is urgent.

Federation has partnered with Jewish Family & Career Services to launch AURA, a fundraising effort dedicated to helping displaced Ukrainians in metro Atlanta. Federation has set aside an initial $200K from the Emergency Relief Fund to support this vital work, but fundraising will continue to meet anticipated needs. These funds, in coordination with volunteers at Atlanta area synagogues, temples, and other organizations, are currently supporting 56 individuals who have traveled to Atlanta to escape the war in Ukraine.

The Lotner family, members of Congregation Or Hadash, opened their hearts and their home to one Ukrainian family that was lucky enough to escape. Click below to read their story

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