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AgeWell Atlanta to Hold Informational Webinar on Dementia

By 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 CARING, COMMUNITY, 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 CARING, COMMUNITY, 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 JEWRY, 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

Yokneam Opens Arms to Ukrainian Olim

By CARING, People in Need

By Eliad Ben Shushan, Israel Partnership Director
Yokneam has welcomed over 100 Ukrainian refuges who escaped from Europe, most of them carrying only a small bag and a lot of fear. I met with some of them, together with Yokneam’s deputy mayor Roman Peres (a native Russian speaker) who is also the leading professional in the municipality responsible for the absorption process.

Roman and other amazing staff and volunteers from Yokneam traveled to the hotels housing these families as they arrived. When I refer to “a family,” I mean mostly mothers and their kids, since the fathers ages 18-60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine and must stay and fight against the Russians. In the hotels they met with the families, listened to them, found out what they needed, invited them to come live in Yokneam, and offered support that some of it is given by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

As I gather with professionals from the welfare and education departments of the municipality, we talk about their needs, what the municipality and the government can give, and what is the support the federations can provide to make their absorption in Yokneam easier – things like help with summer programs for kids that the mothers will be able to go to work, mental support for kids and moms and coupons they can go independent and buy things they need.

Two months ago, I met with Georgy Chujik, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor from Ukraine whose home in Kiev was bombed in March. I learned from Roman before the meeting, that Georgy was born in Vinnytsia, Ukraine and his mother got him out right before the Nazis came. After they returned to their home, they realized that no one who remained in Vinnytsia survived. Georgy moved to Ukraine and when this conflict started 8 years ago, his home was destroyed, and he moved to Kyiv. This March his home was bombed by the Russians, and he had to leave. Three times in his life he saw his home destroyed and needed to escape.  Now at 88 he has chosen to come to Israel, and to Yokneam. He said his apartment in Yokneam is where he will stay.

I shared with Georgy the concept of the Partnership and that good people from the other side of the ocean are thinking about him and want to share their support and love. Georgy was moved by it and told me that it brings light to his soul, and he gave me a hug. I really felt like I was hugging a piece of history.

ethiopian-jewry

Ethiopia: Where Jews Cling to Hope and Promise

By GLOBAL JEWRY, People in Need

In a trip that inspired a wide range of emotions, Federation board member Michael Kogon visited Ethiopia’s community of devoted Jews in Gondar. He, along with other Jewish leaders from Europe and Canada, were ushered into this remote region nestled beneath the Simeon Mountains, a range Kogon describes as both beautiful and foreboding. Michael Kogon’s account of his journey to Gondor brings you closer than ever to the great need of the Ethiopian Jewish community. Read the moving account of his visit, a true eye-opener.

That thousands of Jews have escaped the area’s abject poverty and famine to make Aliyah to Israel is a wonderful thing. Yet many more Ethiopians yearn to rejoin their family members already in Israel who they have not seen for years as they wait for permission to emigrate. Following his trip, Michael Kogon is spearheading an effort to raise money to support the Ethiopian Jewish community and to help fund flights to their land of promise. Your donations to the Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry (SSEJ) Fund will help.

Ben Massell Clinic Offers Lessons for Dentists

By CARING, COMMUNITY, People in Need

The Ben Massell Dental Clinic of JF&CS is the most advanced free dental treatment facility in Georgia. Yes, that’s right – treatment is free. The Clinic changes the lives and smiles of underserved patients in the Atlanta area who otherwise could not afford dental services. They receive top notch care from a caring staff of dental residents and interns, seasoned volunteer dentists and hygienists who are dedicated to serving people in need.

Two of those caring professionals are dental residents, Dr. Poonam Kalaria and Dr. Jean Chien who recently served as volunteers at the clinic. Both women learned that for patients at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, there are many barriers to receiving quality dental treatment.

“Patients at Ben Massell often reveal that they have been in pain for months or even years, because financial, transportation, language, education barriers have prevented them from getting care,” said Dr. Chien. “From the brief time I have been with Ben Massell, however, I have witnessed the dedication of the staff and volunteers to eliminate these barriers.”

“The clients are unbelievably appreciative of the care we provide,” added Dr. Kalaria. “We treat our patients for more than just the bare minimum. We want to go above and beyond, make dentures, and make sure you like the smile we make you, the color of the teeth, all of that. We understand that teeth are important for self-confidence. We don’t treat teeth like a luxury, but as a basic right.”

Dr. Chien agreed. “The dental volunteers are always extremely supportive in making sure all patients are provided timely and excellent care. The patients may not always see the same volunteer dentist, but they always see the same staff at the front desk and the same dental assistants in the operatories. It is evident that these familiar faces put patients at ease and make the environment at Ben Massell a very pleasant one for clients.”

“On numerous occasions patients confide in us about their struggles to find a job, medical care, or affordable housing,” Dr. Chien said. “As a dental resident at the clinic, I can immediately refer these patients to our team of on-site social workers and help patients find solutions to non-dental problems. It has been amazing to be able to learn from the volunteers as well as Ben Massell’s team of staff about providing compassionate and holistic care to underserved clients.”

“Dr. Kalaria recalled a patient in his 40s, whose life was positively impacted by the Ben Massell Dental Clinic. “He was in a car accident with an 18-wheeler, and he was left for dead on the side of the road,” she said. “His teeth were ruined, he lost his job and his house, and his relationship with his family was strained. It seemed like he had lost everything, including his teeth.

Dr. Kalaria was the resident who took out this patient’s remaining teeth, as none of them were salvageable. “He was fitted and set up with dentures and is set to get his permanent implants soon. Today, Dr. Kalaria said he is an entirely different person. Every time we see him, he is happy, hugging all of us and shedding tears of joy. He calls me his guardian angel, and we all want the best for him.”

Dr. Kalaria graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a major in economics and served as a risk analyst for seven years before deciding she wanted to switch careers to have more work life balance, and a career that was more meaningful. She eventually settled on going to dental school.”

Dr. Chien comes from a family of those in the healthcare field. Like the rest of her family, she is passionate about healthcare, but she is also an artist. “My search for a career in which I can combine my passion in health care and art landed me in dentistry,” Dr. Chien explained. “To be able to make art that is functional, aesthetic, and comfortable in people’s mouths has been very rewarding!”

The Ben Massell Dental Clinic is always looking for volunteer dentists and hygienists. To learn more about how you can make a difference, like Dr. Chien and Dr. Kalaria, visit www.benmasselldentalclinic.org/volunteer

 

Hadassah’s doctors dispense medicine and expertise

By COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, People in Need

After Russian shelling intensified last month and a rocket exploded close to the Zhytomyr home of Nina, 76, she fled for Ukraine’s Polish border. When she arrived several days later after a long trip by car with other Zhytomyr residents, Nina was experiencing severe back pain.

She was directed to the Przemyśl Humanitarian Aid Center, a repurposed shopping mall near the Medyka border crossing in southeastern Poland, where doctors from Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Organization, one of Israel’s leading hospitals, have been running the medical clinic since March. There, she received treatment by doctors and Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking nurses who had volunteered to go to Poland as part of Hadassah’s ongoing Ukraine relief effort.

Nina was far from alone.

At what felt like the last possible minute, Elena escaped Kharkiv, Ukraine, with her 13-year-old twins and her autistic 15-year-old son, Daniel, who cannot speak. Janna, 77, who ran from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, contracted a severe case of pneumonia during her three-day road trip to Lviv. When Lviv itself came under air attack, the main hospital there discharged Janna and evacuated her to Poland.

All these refugees ended up at Hadassah’s clinic.

“My grandfather’s cousin perished in Bialystok, not far away from where we were,” Rivka Brooks, director of pediatrics at Hadassah’s Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem, said in an interview from Poland. “Imagine seeing the same Polish scenery and women standing with one suitcase 80 years after the Holocaust, when no one was there for us. You can’t not feel emotional about it.”

Brooks, 52, is among dozens of Hadassah doctors and nurses — both Jews and Arabs — who have volunteered over the last two and a half months for the humanitarian mission, a collaboration among the Hadassah Medical Organization, which operates two hospitals in Jerusalem; the New York-based Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which is funding the effort; and Hadassah International, the organization’s global fundraising arm.

Dr. Yoram Weiss, acting director-general of the Jerusalem medical center and the person who designed and oversees the Ukraine program, said Hadassah began sending medical teams to the Polish border in early March. Now on its 10th mission, Hadassah already has treated more than 10,000 refugees and plans to maintain its presence in Poland at least through early June.

In addition to running the medical clinic at the Przemyśl refugee center, Hadassah doctors and nurses are treating children at a second refugee center in nearby Korczowa, Poland, and, in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), triaging trauma patients at the border. In addition, Hadassah sent trauma experts to train their Polish counterparts at the Medical University of Lublin, a regional trauma center about 125 miles to the north, in how to handle major traumatic injuries and mass casualty situations.

“Unlike other organizations, our physicians do not come independently, but as a group — four physicians, including two pediatricians, four nurses and an administrator,” Weiss said. “All are volunteers, and sometimes we have more people who want to go than we can accommodate.”

David “Dush” Barashi, Hadassah’s head medical clown, has been one of the medical center’s volunteers, putting sick and often anxious children at ease with his pranks and silliness. It was Dush who noticed a fragile 8-year-old boy and gently convinced him and his mother to come to the clinic, where the boy received a thorough check-up.

“The amount of respect we have gained with the WHO [World Health Organization], Médecins Sans Frontières and the Polish Red Cross is really amazing,” Weiss said. “They look at Hadassah and our impact on treating refugees, and they see us as an example of how things should have been done.”

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has been supportive. JFNA president Eric Fingerhut visited the Hadassah border clinic and JFNA has given Hadassah two grants to support the humanitarian mission.

A New Phase in Ukrainian Relief

By CARING, GLOBAL JEWRY, People in Need

Federation’s Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund has been essential in helping vulnerable Ukrainian Jews find safety and shelter in Europe and make aliyah to Israel. In record time, you helped us raised more than $1.6M to provide food, shelter, clothing, cash, and counseling to thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war. And we were thrilled late last week to receive a $1M gift to the fund from the Zalik Foundation, bringing our collective impact to more than $2.6M.

Ukraine relief is now entering a new phase as an anticipated wave of Ukrainian refugees makes its way to the United States. Fifty-one individuals are currently in the metro Atlanta area. Their needs are enormous and now there’s a fund called AURA (Atlanta Ukrainian Relief Assistance) to help support them. Read on to learn how you can help these new arrivals.

Atlanta Ukrainian Relief Assistance (AURA)
Along with our partner, Jewish Family & Career Services, we are launching AURA — Atlanta Ukrainian Relief Assistance, to help displaced Ukrainians in the Atlanta metro area. We have set aside an initial $200K from the Emergency Relief Fund to support this vital humanitarian work, but fundraising will continue to meet anticipated needs.

Two Ways to Help Displaced Ukrainians

  • Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund
  • Atlanta Ukrainian Relief Assistance (AURA)

Just as America became a place of refuge for our people after the Holocaust, so too can Atlanta be a welcoming haven for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. The costs are enormous. Please open your hearts again and donate today to the Atlanta Ukrainian Relief Assistance Fund. Learn more about their local needs and how to help: contact Zane Blechner.

JF&CS Supports Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors in the Southeast

By GLOBAL JEWRY, People in Need

By Cherie Aviv, Founder Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF)

The news out of Ukraine is heartbreaking for all, but there is one group that has been deeply impacted: Holocaust survivors. Many of them once called Ukraine and Russia their homes. And though they left for a better life, it is still incredibly difficult to watch their former homeland be attacked. Many still have loved ones in Ukraine.

JF&CS provides supportive services, with Claims Conference funds from Germany for Holocaust survivors in Georgia, and 10 states in the Southeast region. The Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF), convened by Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, provides funds that meet the shortfall from Claims Conference funding, so survivors receive needed homecare, grocery food gift cards, home-delivered meals, prescription assistance, and more. Of the 229 Holocaust survivors who get support services, 93 are from Ukraine (62 live in Georgia and 31 live in other areas of the Southeast region). In addition, there are 40+ survivors from Russia.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to the already snowballing anxiety experienced by survivors over the last few years—increased significantly during the pandemic. They witnessed empty shelves at grocery stores, became socially isolated, saw people get sick, and knew people who died. Many experienced flashbacks to World War II.

Hence, stress level is high, and those who have family there are scared. Thankfully, JF&CS case managers are in regular contact with survivors and stepped up their outreach with survivors from Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the Former Soviet Union to provide crucial support during this challenging time. They call survivors, listen to them, and attend to their emotional needs. And continue to provide them with much needed services to help with food insecurity, homecare, and more.