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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! 

5/28 – A Day for Menstrual Equity

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

The average length of a menstruating person’s period is five days. The average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days. Those numbers inspired advocates around the world, and our own Women’s Philanthropy activists, to declare Menstrual Equity Day on 5/28.

Providing menstrual supplies to Atlantans who cannot afford them has been a major focus of Women’s Philanthropy for more than a year. Through Project Dignity, our women have engaged friends, families, and Jewish teens from JumpSpark to collect and distribute more than 100,000 menstrual supplies across Atlanta. Lori Peljovich, who helps lead the initiative says, “It’s been a great hands-on way to have an impact during the pandemic because much of the shopping can be done online. I’ve been so impressed by the women of our community when asked to step up and engage.”

“Project Dignity has been so successful that we’ve been able to partner with a number of organizations in our community to expand our reach,” Peljovich said. “We were overwhelmed by the response, and we will try to do collection drives twice a year in order to keep increasing our distribution to those in need.” To get involved contact: Yael Sherman, Director of Women’s Philanthropy, ysherman@jewishatlanta.org

Some surprising facts about menstruation equity:

  • In her lifetime, a woman will spend approximately 3,500 days (equivalent to almost 10 years) menstruating.
  • Approximately 70 percent of women use tampons and may use 11,000-15,000 in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 10 college students in the U.S—a relatively privileged group—experience period poverty, which has clear ties to stress-related mental health.
  • In a 2019 study of low-income women, almost two-thirds of respondents reported not being able to afford the products they needed in the last year.
  • According to a 2019 study, 1 in 5 teens in the U.S. could not afford period products, and 1 in 4 have missed class because they did not have access to pads or tampons.
  • In the state of Georgia, we have Georgia STOMP (Stop Tax on Menstrual Products), working in the legislature to eliminate the 4 percent state tax on items necessary to manage periods. Georgia STOMP has over 15,000 members and helped to introduce HB 8, which has yet to pass.

According to NY Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 2021 ushered in major policy reforms for menstrual equity around the world. New Year’s Day marked the end of the tampon tax in England —the culmination of a seven-year organizing campaign. Scotland made history as the first nation to mandate free period products to anyone in need.

Here in the United States, there have been notable advances, too. Back in March, when Congress passed the CARES Act, it included a long-sought provision: reclassification of menstrual products as qualified medical expenses, meaning they now can be purchased with pre-tax dollars via employee health savings and flexible spending accounts.

Our Board Co-Chairs Look Back

By CARING, COMMUNITY, PHILANTHROPY

Lisa Galanti Rabinowitz and Lori Kagan Schwarz are ending a year of purpose and partnership as Co-Chairs of the Federation Board of Trustees. To say that they could not have imagined the challenges they would face together is an understatement at best. These talented women handled their roles with grace, grit, and flexibility in a time of unique stress and community need. We asked Lisa and Lori to reflect on their year of leadership below. We hope you will join us (virtually) at the 115th Annual Meeting, when we’ll thank them formally, for the love and commitment that carried all of us through this extraordinary year.

A Year of Love and Blessing

By Lisa Galanti Rabinowitz

By Lisa Galanti Rabinowitz
A year ago I eagerly anticipated connecting in person with Jewish Atlanta’s people, agencies, and organizations. Instead, we faced a wicked curveball. Specifically, the best-of-times responsibility, honor, and privilege to serve as Co-Chair of the Federation Board of Trustees collided with the worst of times as we isolated at home with disease, death, and uncertainty swirling mercilessly.
Yet, Federation could waste no time. The only path forward was to move in concert and with resilience to ensure the health and well-being of our Jewish people and 100+ Jewish Atlanta organizations.
Blessed with a communal cocoon and Federation’s sacred mission “To care for, connect, and strengthen Jewish communities throughout metro Atlanta, Israel, and the world,” the Zoom-Zoom of life took hold. Computer screens adorned with faces of servant leaders in little squares mobilized as indomitable sparkplugs to plow forward exuberantly and forcefully to do good and to do right. In return, and with transcendent spirit, YOU, our Jewish community, gave generously with time, wisdom, and wealth to care for, connect, and strengthen Jewish community.
Through the worst of times together Jewish Atlanta brought powerful grit, passionate purpose, and unyielding dedication every single day. Together we worked with resolve, ingenuity, and heart – united in the optimistic quest to thrive in the face of difficulty, as we have for centuries. And it was, therefore, the best of times.
While we begin to put this past year’s test of will behind us, let us also heartily celebrate with immense respect, abiding love, and great blessing how our Jewish Atlanta and Federation embody a conjoined heartbeat that keeps on giving. Here’s to continued good to come, even amidst life’s ever-present ebbs and flows. Onward and upward we grow together!

Inspired by Our Stories

By Lori Kagan Schwarz

By Lori Kagan Schwarz
I am a bit of a data geek. It’s not the numbers per se that fascinate me; it’s the Federation stories behind them that reveal the character and promise of our community. In a year when the world felt like it was spinning out of control, the stories from across our Atlanta Jewish community were all the motivation I needed.

The $4.3 million raised for Federation’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund tells a tale of donors who came together with warp speed to care for seniors in solitude, struggling families, over-burdened Jewish institutions, and those in need of food and basic necessities.

A record of nearly 1,000 camp scholarships were awarded this year speaks to the magic of Jewish overnight camp and our community’s commitment to making camp affordable for so many.

Behind the seven Shinshinim who still came to Atlanta overcoming all of the COVID restrictions is a story about the unbelievably inspiring Israeli high school graduates taking a gap year in Atlanta before military service. Working long days in our day schools and synagogues, with our youth groups, and in our camps, the Shinshinim infuse our community with their passion and love for Israel.

These stories, and especially the people behind them — the volunteers, professionals, communal leaders, and donors — fill me with gratitude and hope.

2021 Community Award Winners

By CARING, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, PHILANTHROPY

Jada Garrett 
As a Black Jew, Jada Garrett seeks to amplify voices and experiences of Jews of Color. She provides leadership and organizational diversity training workshops with a Jewish lensconsulting and public speakingJada is active at Congregation Shearith Israel, with Be’chol Lashon, and participates in multiple Jews of Color focus groups. She is also a member of the Jews of Color Fed Network, a community network made up of Jewish People of Color that serve as a resource for the broader Jewish communal landscape. 

Adam Hirsch 
Adam Hirsch epitomizes the definition of leadership within the Jewish Community. He is on the executive board of American Jewish Committee, Ahavath Achim Synagogue, and is a former board member of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and Jewish Family & Career Services. He has also served on the steering board of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. He was awarded the Young Leadership Award by ORT and was recently honored by Hillels of Georgia for his contributions both personally and professionally. Adam has also told the Jewish Atlanta story through various documentaries, including most recently, “Atlanta, The City Too Busy to Wait.”  

The Gerald G. Cohen Community Development Award — Jennifer Korach
Jennifer Korach may be new to Atlanta, but she has a long history with Jewish Federations. She was an active leader in Cleveland, holding many positions in the general campaign, women’s philanthropy, and was a member of Young Leadership Cabinet. Jennifer is a premier worker (and excellent fund raiser), serves as liaison to JFNA, and has served on allocations committees. Jennifer has co-chaired events and Pop Ups.   

The Marilyn Shubin Professional Staff Development Award — David Welsher
David Welsher is currently serving in his fourth academic year at The Epstein School and was recently named the Associate Head of School effective fall 2021. He is an inspired innovator, a gifted educator, and a compelling leader, who is enthusiastic about sharing his passion, vision, and knowledge. David’s educational philosophy sees each student as a whole child capable of learning and growth. Traditional academic learning is seen alongside the social, emotional, and spiritual growth of each student.   

Mary & Max London People Power Award — Lauren Harris
Lauren Harris has served on JF&CS’s Board for over 10 years. She created The Artists’ Collective; an innovative, volunteer led and run inclusion program bringing community artists twice a month into IndependenceWorks, JF&CS’s day services program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This program gives clients who love art the ability to experiment with a variety of mediums and to interact with artists who are experts in their medium. Some of the items produced have been sold at JF&CS’s signature event, the Tasting, a fundraiser that supports these programs.  

Tikkun Olam/Community Impact Award — Mimi Hall
Mimi Hall was a founder and early organizer of Concrete Jungle, an organization launched in 2009 with the innovative idea of harvesting fruit and nuts from abandoned/underutilized urban trees. Concrete Jungle makes that produce a year-round food source for food banks, shelters, and people in need. The organization has now grown to a multi-pronged food justice advocate. Concrete Jungle organizes fruit picking events. It partners with other food justice organizations mobilizing volunteers for food delivery to needy families.