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Atlanta Day Schools Maintain Enrollment Uptick

By ALEF Fund, COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, PHILANTHROPY

A unique silver lining of the pandemic has been a significant spike in enrollment at Atlanta’s Jewish day schools. Last year and this year, many Atlanta parents who were frustrated by school closings and virtual learning, opted for the high-quality, in-person education found at our Jewish day schools.

Tallying re-enrollment and new enrollments, nearly all our day schools are seeing their highest numbers in recent history. The Davis Academy added an additional section of first grade last year. They now have 54 students in second grade. Enrollment at The Weber School is at an all-time high.

The Zalik Foundation’s Jewish Community Professional High School Tuition Grant has also been a driver. It offers full-time Jewish professionals, clergy, and educators up to a 50 percent tuition reduction if their children are currently enrolled or have been accepted to an accredited Jewish high school in Atlanta.

Prizmah, national Jewish day school network, confirms the trend. Their 2021 report said, “After two decades of slow erosion in the numbers of students enrolled in non-Orthodox Jewish day schools in North America, the 18 months since the onset of COVID-19 have seen an unanticipated change. Many schools have reported a spate of inquiries and enrollments among children transferring from public schools, sometimes in the middle of the year. Families noticed how well day schools were responding to the challenge of offering a solid and stable education during the pandemic. They preferred what they saw to what their children were experiencing in their previous schools.”

In-migration and remote working are also part of the story. Because of COVID parents were able to work remotely and choose a community with great day school options. In the Atlanta Jewish Times, Erica Gal, a former admissions director at Atlanta Jewish Academy (AJA) said, “Though AJA did have families coming from local public school, we also had a lot of families move here from out of town.”

Here in Atlanta, preparing our schools to receive these new students and to operate in the COVID environment came at a cost. Jewish day schools received grants from the CARES Act and from Federation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to offset the increased cost of additional staffing, building adaptations, increased cleaning, PPE, and many other costs associated with safe operations. That investment really paid off.

It’s great to hear comments like this one from a new day school parent: “Ok, I can’t help it! I just have to tell you how insanely happy our daughter is this year already. She literally cannot wait to come to school every day, and when I pick her up, she is just going a mile a minute, telling me all about her day and how much fun she had. She absolutely adores her teachers, and so do we. They have just been so above and beyond in every way already.”

Another way to support our Jewish day schools is to make a pledge to the ALEF Fund to redirect a portion of your Georgia state taxes to become tuition scholarships. Hurry, the deadline is December 31, 2021.

How a Donor-advised Fund Can Honor Your Family’s Legacy

By Atlanta Jewish Foundation, PHILANTHROPY

Nancy Jacobson Freedman enjoyed an iconic and idyllic southern Jewish girlhood in the Atlanta of the 1950s and ’60s. As the daughter of Jewish community pillars, Harvey and Betty Ann Jacobson, Nancy participated in all organizations and social institutions that defined Jewish Atlanta — BBYO, the JCC on Peachtree Road, the early years of Camp Barney, The Temple, The Standard Club, Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, the Brandeis University Women’s Committee, and so much more.

Being Jewish was at the center of her life. Yet in an era when assimilation was giving way to deeper levels of Jewish observance the harsh lessons of history remained fresh for Atlanta Jews. “The Leo Frank lynching was embedded in our collective memory. We knew there were restricted clubs that did not accept Jews. I was in kindergarten when The Temple bombing happened. I will never forget how it galvanized our community. At the same time, I’ll never forget how the non-Jewish community supported us. After the bombing, churches, and schools opened their doors to us for services and Sunday school classes. These were wonderful lessons in community generosity.”

Today, these lessons learned and the commitments made by her family live on. Nancy Freedman has blazed her own philanthropic path, serving on numerous agency boards around Atlanta, truly “walking the walk” of her family’s values. She is winding down an education fund launched years ago by her uncle, Joe Jacobs. And she and her husband Wayne steward the family’s donor-advised fund (DAF) at Atlanta Jewish Foundation. “It means everything to us that this fund continues to support the things Mom and Dad believed in. Cindy Weik has handled our DAF for years and she makes the grant process so easy. The professional staff does a fantastic job and gives good guidance.”

“My mother was the first woman president of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. She was tough, a driving force. You couldn’t say ‘no’ to Betty Ann Jacobson! My father was quieter, but also a tremendous role model who was active in Federation, chaired many committees and was devoted to the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology. He and my mother were partners in all of these community activities. It’s no wonder that after college I became a Federation campaign volunteer.” Nancy also served on the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet, won the Abe Schwartz Young Leadership award, and worked as a campaign professional at Federation under David Sarnat up until her children were born.

All three of Freedman’s children went to The Epstein School which became another arena for the family’s engagement and learning.” I wanted my kids to be more knowledgeable than I was. I’m proud that they know how to run a service and speak Hebrew. When they were young, we were active at the Zaban Night Shelter and the Shearith Israel Shelter. Wayne and I have tried to impart to our kids that we are blessed, and that it is our obligation to make sure that others who don’t have what we have are helped. I try hard to be proactive with my kids about getting involved in community service and giving back not just your time, but your money as well.”

“Atlanta Jewish Foundation is a perfect way to accomplish these goals. We love that our financial advisor can manage our donor-advised fund.I trust them! When you invest at the Foundation, you are supporting the whole community. That’s what Mom and Dad were all about!”

Be More Philanthropic in 2022. Open a DAF in 2021!

By PHILANTHROPY

You’ve probably heard the term donor-advised fund (DAF) in this newsletter, but do you really know what a DAF is, and how it can be a personal financial planning tool? A DAF is a charitable savings account that allows you to donate to charity. But it can also be a tax saving vehicle, especially if you open one with Atlanta Jewish Foundation before December 31, 2021.

Evi Reznick opened a DAF with Atlanta Jewish Foundation in 2013 and is a huge fan. “I love, love, love Atlanta Jewish Foundation and my donor-advised fund. It puts me in charge of all my charitable giving and makes record-keeping simple. A lot of my giving is local and Jewish. For small nonprofit agencies, it costs money to process an $18 check. With my DAF, the funds go directly to the organization, and I do not have to mail anything. Cindy Weik at the Foundation takes care of it. And the tax benefits can be substantial.”

Another great reason to open a DAF is because you can invest in your fund without needing to immediately designate charitable recipients. This allows you to receive a tax benefit the same year you fund your DAF. The money deposited in your DAF is invested and can grow tax-free until you provide instructions for where you want to make gifts to qualifying organizations.

No wonder donor-advised funds are one of the most popular investments offered by Atlanta Jewish Foundation! If you don’t already have a DAF, the extension of the CARES Act makes the end of 2021 an optimal time to establish one with Atlanta Jewish Foundation. Talk it over with your financial advisor or contact Cindy Weik, Philanthropic Services Senior Associate, to start a discussion.

Three Big Reasons to Give

By CARING, COMMUNITY, Eric's Blog, PHILANTHROPY

The stunning success of the 2021 Community Campaign demonstrates to me that you, the Jewish community of Atlanta, are believers and builders. Your generosity is what propels us forward toward an even brighter collective future. It’s obvious to me that the Community Campaign is the very best vehicle for keeping that momentum going.

Last year’s Community Campaign closed with totals that exceeded our goals in every category, allowing us to amplify our impact. As our economy rebounds, I know we can do even better in 2022.

Federation is built to do big things. Here are my top three reasons to ask for your generous support for the 2022 Community Campaign:

1) Your support during COVID was magnificent. Jewish Atlanta deserves a pat on the back for how we met urgent needs during the pandemic, how we continue to come through COVID, and how we have learned from it. This kind of help is what Federation was built for and what a great community does.

2) You have helped us build one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in North America. We are the home of world-class partner agencies. We have a growing Jewish population, attracting young people after college and older adults who are moving to join their adult children. Our demographics have attracted innovative national initiatives to locate in our city:  Repair the World, OneTable, Honeymoon Israel, 18Doors, and B’chol Lashon are all thriving here.

3) Our tradition teaches over and over again that being a part of a community means supporting that community. This is the price we pay for the privilege of living in a community that has our back. It’s that basic. Please make your gift today and see all the ways you can channel your support to the things you care about most.

Built to Serve: Campaign 2022

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

It’s a privilege to volunteer on the 2022 Community Campaign, to serve with Debbie Kuniansky, Chair, and a team of hundreds of volunteers and professionals. My reasons for volunteering bring to mind a story from my years as a camper at Camp Barney Medintz in the foothills of the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia. I attended a campout with my cabinmates and counselor. After dinner, we pitched our tents and went to sleep. After sleeping for some time, I suddenly woke my counselor up and asked, “What do you see?”

Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he said, “I see the majesty of God’s creation in the stars and moon, the wonder of nature and miracles of life in the mountains and streams around us.” I responded, “Our tent is gone.” This story reminds me that we need to keep one eye focused on the possibilities, the big ideas and a second eye on the essentials – security, safety, shelter, and caring for one another. With all the challenges in the world, we cannot be so consumed that we focus only on ourselves and on today. Because without planning for the future, our children and children’s children will ask, “What did we do when it was our time to act?” Even worse, they might say, “Why did you not act when you could or should have?”

As a parent of children who graduated from one of our community’s amazing Jewish day schools, I marvel at the depth of their Judaism – the way they honor Shabbat, how they engage in deeds of loving kindness, and their pride in Jewishness. Unlike their Marano ancestors who practiced their Judaism in secret, they live rich Jewish lives. Together with Israel, Jews in North America comprise 90% of world Jewry. We are living in the Golden Age of Jewish life. How do we express that Judaism? By taking care of those less fortunate than us, building on the foundation that our parents and the many generations before them built for us. Together we can do this. We are built for this! Please join us in the 2022 Community Campaign, because we cannot do it without you. Not only for tomorrow but now, today.

I Know What Community Means

By COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

Growing up Jewish in Bangor, Maine was a tremendous life lesson in the power of community. The state’s Jewish population was/is tiny, and I was almost always the only Jewish kid in my class. But as a fourth-generation Jewish “Mainer”, my parents and grandparents instilled in me a strong Jewish identity and connection through active participation in our synagogue, JCC, and Jewish day and overnight camps.

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The Good We Do Behind the Scenes

By COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

by Matt Bronfman, Board Chair

I am constantly amazed by the good Federation does. Last year between the Campaign, the Atlanta Jewish Foundation, and other giving programs, we helped infuse roughly $53 million into the community. Many of our efforts are high-visibility programs that people can see and participate in. But much of our work is indirect, from providing community-wide security to supporting innovation and community planning with our partner agencies. That is why to me, Federation reminds me of the BASF commercials from the ‘80s and ‘90s:  We don’t make a lot of the products you buy or use, we make them better.

I continue to be inspired by so many things that happen because of Federation, whether through funding, direct programming, or just the connections we foster. Here are just a few that impressed me recently:

  • Federation’s AgeWell Atlanta platform offers customized resources for older adults, plus an amazing calendar packed with 18-20 programs a week to engage them. Get on the AgeWell mailing list for upcoming events.
  • Through Federation’s funding of Moishe House and our Making Jewish Places initiative, programming has expanded beyond the four residential houses to impact young adults in Kennesaw, Smyrna, and Cumming “without walls.” Read about it here.
  • Federation’s education initiative, the Jewish Education Collaborative (JEC), continues to transform the face of supplementary Jewish education in our city. Read about Atlanta Hebrew Connection, a new online Hebrew language pilot program starting this fall.
  • Federation and JF&CS have become partners in KAVOD SHEF, a funding initiative to help meet the home care needs of Holocaust survivors in Georgia and the Southeast. It will supplement Claims Conference funding and the impactful work of the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF) improving the lives of survivors who need assistance.
  • I love how we connected these two: Rabbi Micah Lapidus of The Davis Academy met Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan, the liaison for our partnership region in Yokneam and Megiddo, Israel. Their work to build bridges between Atlanta and Israeli students led to a deep interpersonal connection over their shared love of Jewish music. It led to the production of this beautiful song.

 

Mazel Tov to Cherie Aviv: AFP’s Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

When the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Atlanta Chapter hosts its 39th annual National Philanthropy Day event on November 4, 2021, Jewish Atlanta can take justifiable pride that Cherie Aviv will be honored as Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year. 

Cherie Aviv is a fiercely dedicated and effective fundraiser with a longtime interest in the arts, and a deep passion for social services in the Jewish community, older adults, clients with disabilities, and meeting the needs of our region’s Holocaust survivors. Her fundraising efforts and remarkable collaborative initiatives have raised more than $10 million to date to benefit people across the greater Atlanta community and beyond.

In 2016, after assessing the needs of Atlanta’s Holocaust survivors, Cherie spearheaded the partnership between Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS), Jewish HomeLife, Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA), The Breman Museum, Eternal Life-Hemshech, and Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta that created the Holocaust Survivors Support Fund (HSSF). Through Cherie’s efforts, the fund has raised just under $3 million, engaged more than 600 donors, and had a transformational impact on the lives of more than 135 Holocaust survivors annually.  

On behalf of Federation, Karen Botnick Paz nominated Aviv for the AFP award. In her nomination, Karen paints a rich picture of Cherie’s busy life. “It’s 5:30 a.m. and Cherie Aviv is quietly reading before she takes a morning run. Juggling up to four books at a time keeps her mind engaged, while running allows time for thinking. These hobbies provide a healthy balance to her full-time volunteer schedule which runs the gamut from fundraising, creating special moments, outreach, and hands-on activities.  

Cherie applies this same discipline and determination to everything she undertakes. Terri Bonoff, CEO JF&CS said, “Cherie’s approach is to respond to community needs with urgency and innovation. This was evident with the 2014 JF&CS Capital Campaign to Complete the Campus where the campaign raised $6.6 million, exceeding the goal by $1.5 million. Cherie co-chaired with John Perlman and made the matching lead gift 

Miriam Friedman, an MJCCA professional shared, “Cherie co-led a team of 15+ volunteer and staff solicitors and helped to construct the campaign framework from marketing materials to campaign structure and reporting, to board solicitations and grant writing. Cherie’s project management savvy kept the team on track and motivated, exceeding the campaign goal by over $1.5 million.”   

Mark Silberman, past Board Chair of Federation said, “Cherie has no peer when it comes to fundraising. Absolutely the best I have seen.” 

While serving as Vice President of Development at Jewish HomeLife, Cherie increased their annual campaign by 25%. From 2014-2016, as Co-Chair of Jewish Family & Career Services Capital Campaign, she helped secure $6.6 million. In 2018, she and her husband Gary chaired a record-setting Community of Caring luncheon, which raised $500,000. 

Cherie is not only generous with her time and expertise, she is personally generous, though her giving is often anonymous. Supporting letters for the AFP award provide story after story of her dedication and generosity and her engaging collaborative style.  

Tammi Parker, a friend, and volunteer observes, “Cherie is the ultimate player/coach. She creates the experience for the volunteer, makes it look easy and doable, and fills in any gaps that the volunteer is not able to cover.  Terri Bonoff addedOn one occasion, I joined 20 volunteers to make rugelach to give to survivors, caregivers, or clients with disabilities. These volunteer baking events are quite inspiring and there are waiting lists to join.” 

One thing is for certain, what Cherie has done for the Atlanta community and beyond is priceless. Her impact is everywhere. JF&CS can provide comprehensive support services for any senior in the Atlanta community through Aviv Older Adult Services. Jewish HomeLife is well known throughout Atlanta for its high quality of care at Aviv Rehabilitation Center. Thousands of older adults are cheered by birthday cards through Aviv Celebrations. Cancer patients feel the warmth through fleece blankets while going through chemotherapy delivered through her efforts. She has shared that she has more new projects in the works.   

Thank you, Cherie, for the abundance of wisdom, persistence, and chesed you bring to philanthropy. You have lifted countless lives!