Federation News Archives

April 4, 2017

April 4, 2017

Meet Teenaged Philanthropist Raina Grosswald

“Whenever I give tzedakah I feel I’m reflecting Mimi, my grandma.”

My first time giving tzedakah (charitable giving) was at the age of six. My grandma, Susan Arnovitz, who I called “Mimi,” started a fund so that each of her grandkids could pick a charity and make a donation. I was the oldest of Mimi’s eight grandchildren, so I went first. She took me down to the Federation building where I learned about the things I care most about. I decided to give my tzedakah to a charity that sends Israeli kids to summer camp.

When I was finally old enough, I went to Jewish overnight camp with some of my cousins and completely fell in love. Shabbat at camp was amazing with singing and dancing and the feeling of really connecting with Hashem in nature. My best friends are my camp friends and I can’t wait to see them each summer.

When I thought about a project for my bat mitzvah, I wanted to continue to provide an opportunity for kids to go to Jewish overnight camp. I learned about One Happy Camper grants for first and second time campers and decided it was perfect. On my bat mitzvah website I created a section for people to donate to One Happy Camper.

I raised $2,400 from friends and family, then added $600 of my bat mitzvah gift money, which my parents matched. I am excited to think my $3,600 contribution to One Happy Camper will give other kids the privilege of going to Jewish camp. It feels great to be a philanthropist, and even though she is no longer with us, I know that Mimi is smiling.

Did You Know?

Each summer, the Breman Museum’s Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education offers an intensive five-day seminar preparing educators to teach the Holocaust across all grade levels. Classes are taught by renowned Holocaust educators from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem. The curriculum meets Georgia Performance and Core Curricula Standards and teachers receive four PLUs upon completion. This year’s program runs June 12-16.

• 32 enrolled in 2016
• 800+ have completed the course
• 26 continuous years of summer training

Family Financial Literacy: Finding Philanthropy Between The Lines

Why is there so much interest in multi-generational philanthropy today? What structures work best for family giving? How can you assist aging parents with financial matters and create a solid legal plan for your own independence? These questions were addressed at Family Financial Literacy, a Women’s Philanthropy event held at Federation last week, sponsored by Wilmington Trust. Event co-chair Kimberly Swartz said, “Women are becoming influencers or the decision makers when it comes to their family’s financial activities. We are also the ones to instill the values of philanthropy into our daily lives. Wilmington Trust provided us with great advice and practical steps to creating our financial and philanthropic futures.”

Mission: Accomplished

Federation’s second annual young adult mini-mission gave a busload of under 40s an up-close view of the people and programs Federation supports in our community. The Dunwoody-focused day started at the MJCCA. Half the group cooked a Passover treat at the Kuniansky Family Center and learned about the MJCCA’s program offerings for people with special needs. The other half tried to keep up with mature adults in a game of pickleball. At a nearby Kroger, the group learned about hunger insecurity and how the JF&CS Kosher Food Pantry meets local needs. Then, with $5 each, they took on the “poverty challenge” of shopping for a week of groceries. The last stop — assembling personal care bags at The Packaged Good, a volunteer service organization — helped underscore the importance of community support for startups and small organizations.

Volunter of the Month

Mazel tov to Mitchel Kopelman, who has served as ALEF Fund president for the last four years. ALEF raises millions of dollars each year to provide scholarships for children to attend Jewish schools in Georgia, and Mitchell has been one of its biggest cheerleaders, having recently worked for legislation to make more tax credit funding available in Georgia. He is a remarkable Jewish-community leader who has served on the Finance Committee of Davis Academy, the Federation Audit Committee and many boards and advisory committees including Conexx, Friends of the IDF Southeast Region, and other organizations outside the Jewish community. Mitchell says that ALEF has been his most personally rewarding volunteer activity. We treasure his commitment to Jewish education!

Find a Passover Seder here.

Read the Latest Legislative Update

Read April 4 newsletter.

March 28, 2017

Building a 21st-Century Jewish Community

With five major Jewish conferences convening in Atlanta this month, March has been a whirlwind of connections with old and new colleagues, plus rich conversations about community building that I love. People ask me, “Why is Jewish Atlanta so hot right now? What’s the secret sauce?” I honestly don’t think there is one, but even with our challenges — urban sprawl and high rates of mobility and migration — Atlanta has a big appetite for innovation while simultaneously being bolstered by strong, stable Jewish institutions. I believe we’re a perfect laboratory for how to build a 21st-century Jewish community.

On March 20, Jodi Mansbach, our new Chief Impact Officer, and I gave a talk on this topic at Jewish Funders Network entitled, Meet Them Where They Are: Strategies for Engaging 21st Century Jewish Life. Using Atlanta as a case study, we took the position that Jews in 21st-century American cities are as much a part of the major trends and modes of contemporary living as anyone else. We’ve seen that Jewish people change and move more quickly than buildings or institutions can chase them. That’s why I’ve called Atlanta, “the Pew Study on steroids,” because our high rates of mobility challenge traditional modes of community building and make it difficult to foster engagement.

The 2013 Pew Study was a survey of Jewish Americans suggesting that Jewish identity is radically changing. It documented that the percentage of adults who say they are Jewish has declined by about half since the late 1950’s, and that one-in-five Jews (22%) describe themselves as having no religion. The study sent shock waves through the Jewish world; however, it also revealed many positives. For example, U.S. Jewish population is actually rising, and 28% of intermarried couples said they were raising their children as Jews. Rates of Passover seder attendance, fasting on Yom Kippur, candle-lighting and keeping kosher are also on the rise. Three-quarters of U.S. Jews said they have “a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.”

Atlanta’s Jewish community confirms these trends. In our session, we explored the general sociological and demographic trends that can inform planning and funding to examine Jewish trends. With data from actual Jewish programs, we framed questions about our current resources and how they relate to the ways contemporary Jews live and work.

You’ll be hearing more from us about these questions and the unique Jewish assets Atlanta brings to the table. As always, I’m eager to know what you think about how we can build the Jewish future together: erobbins@jewishatlanta.org

Did You Know?

HAMSA (Helping Atlantans Manage Substance Abuse), a program of JF&CS, brings a Jewish voice to the recovery world and brings the recovery world to the Jewish community. HAMSA staff and volunteers provide awareness programs for parents and teens, plus counseling, referrals, and regular recovery groups. HAMSA fosters fellowship for those who struggle with substance abuse and other addictions, as well as for their family and friends.

• 5,000 people reached through education programs in 2016-17
• 50 people received direct counseling services
• 25 community partners and synagogues

 Sharing What We’ve Learned: 2016 Community Study

We are very excited to share some of the learning from the 2016 Atlanta Jewish Community Study at three upcoming public discussions, April 24-26. The 2016 study was the first ever consumer behavior-focused research on Jewish Atlanta, and it has yielded rich insights. We encourage you to attend the public presentations as a springboard to future conversations. Our schools, synagogues, camps, affiliate agencies, and other organizations are engaging in learning sessions specifically geared toward their programs and services as we kick off a year of learning, working together to really use the data from the study to help strengthen Jewish Atlanta. Be a part of the conversation by joining us at one of these public discussions:
• April 24 at the MJCCA, 6:30-8:30 pm
• April 25 at Congregation Dor Tamid, 7-9 pm
• April 26 at Selig Center, 8:30-10:30 am

Find a Passover Seder

You may not be making a Passover seder, and you may not have been invited to a seder, but no worries, there’s a place at the table for you somewhere in Atlanta. We’ve compiled a list, and GrapeVine has shared its list of Passover seders around Atlanta that are open to the public. Follow the links, sign up, and take part in the Jewish world’s most celebrated and iconic meal.

Find a Passover Seder here.

Why I Give
Why does Adam Kazinec give to Federation?

Watch to find out!

Read the Legislative Update.

Read March 28 newsletter.

March 21, 2017

JKG is our Family’s Kibbutz in Atlanta 
By: Tali Golan-Williams

A family like mine, that’s Israeli and African-American, may not stand out much in New York City, but when my husband Byron and I, and our daughter Naomi, left our families behind, we wanted to find a place where diversity was celebrated. While looking for an after-school program for Naomi, we found our special place at Jewish Kids Groups (JKG).

JKG offered something unique — a Jewish community and a Hebrew school in a different environment that really works for us. I was born in Israel and Naomi is being raised bilingually in English and Hebrew. Byron comes from a Christian background, and his worldview is extremely multicultural. JKG honors our family’s mixed heritage while also giving Naomi a creative and substantial Jewish learning experience. Through songs, games, cooking and holidays, she is embracing Judaism in the most creative way possible.

Byron says that, for him, JKG dispels the myth that Jewish culture is closed and narrow. Through this program we have created a loving Jewish family here in Atlanta. We celebrate holidays with other JKG families. We share potluck Shabbat dinners with them. When our new baby Tamir was born, they delivered meals to us.

When Naomi says the Shabbat prayers, bakes challah, or helps the other kids with Hebrew, it’s an extension of the global values we love. JKG is helping her become a girl with Jewish pride and wonderful confidence. JKG is our family’s kibbutz in Atlanta.

Federation supports Jewish Kids Groups, to strengthen Jewish education and identity.

Did You Know?

AVIV Rehabilitation Center, a program of Jewish Home Life Communities, is a supportive residential and outpatient program helping people recover from orthopedic surgery, post-surgical complications, or a disabling illness such as stroke or heart attack. The staff creates individualized programs helping every patient relearn the skills necessary to return to independence.

• Five-star-rated Medicare facility
• 24 rooms at the William Breman Jewish Home
• 230 clients served annually

Nominations Open for Federation Board

It’s nomination season! We congratulate these volunteers who have joined Federation’s 2017 Nominating Committee, chaired by past president Howard Feinsand: Betty Sunshine, immediate past Campaign chair; Carolyn Oppenheimer, immediate past Women’s Philanthropy president; Avery Kastin, immediate past chair of the Under 40 Division; Aaron “Ronnie” Agami, Liann Baron, Vicki Benjamin, Carol Cooper, Renee Evans, Howard Katz, and Doug Kuniansky. The Nominating Committee meets at the end of this month. Nominations are encouraged! If you wish to submit names for the FY18 Board of Trustees, please email them to Stephanie Wyatt.

Meet Atlanta’s JOFEE Fellow 

Meet Emily Blustein, Federation’s first JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education) Fellow. She has just joined us as the Jewish community’s experiential environmental educator. Emily was trained at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut to develop programming and Jewish experiences through the lens of food, outdoors and environmental stewardship. She is elated to be our JOFEE Fellow and hopes to create local projects and partnerships that get people outdoors and excited about “getting our hands in the dirt.”

Staff Spotlight 

Philanthropy is a great way to express your personal values. Watch Itai Tsur, our Senior Director of Atlanta Jewish Foundation, explain how you can.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read March 21 newsletter.

March 14, 2017

Israel and American Youth
By Yaron Yavelberg, Israeli Representative for Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

The word has spread within Israeli society, especially among those connected with Jewish organizations in the U.S., that the younger generation in America is drifting away from their Jewish identity and from their connection to Israel. While this is well supported by research and demographic studies, I have a different point of view.

For more than five years I have been evaluating Israel programs from the Atlanta and St. Louis Federations, and for the past two years have served as their representative in Yokneam and Meggido. After recently visiting both of these American communities, I believe that the establishment of the Jewish state is still a work in progress, and that young American Jews must have a stake in its development.

For older generations, supporting Israel meant taking part in the miracle of the establishment of a free Jewish state in the land of Israel. For younger generations, Israel is a given — a strong and confident nation like any other. I believe both perspectives are inaccurate. Not quite 70 years old, Israel is an infant among national states. It is still struggling for its values, its security, its character. It still requires the involvement of American Jews, not just through philanthropic vehicles, but with knowledge, experience, perspective and nuance.

Israel is more than a place of terror attacks. Arabs and Jews are working together on dozens of social and business projects. When was the last time you heard about this? Ethiopian Jewish women, who were born in an isolated village in Ethiopia, were appointed as judges in Israeli court. Did you know this? Israeli technology and science are breaking the limits of imagination, for all humankind. It is our responsibility, in Federations and other Jewish organizations, to be a bridge to the younger generation. We must connect them with Israel with messages like these.

Last, but not least, we are family. Going back just four generations, we all were from the same places. Diaspora Jews supported Israel from day one, and the people of Israel will never forget that bond. Most Israelis are curious about American Jews, sometimes ignorant, but always willing to deepen the relationship.  G-d willing, Israel will always be here for you and your families. Come visit us, engage with us, and write your personal chapter of Israel’s amazing story.

Did You Know?

Meyer Balser NORC is one of three naturally occurring retirement communities in Metro Atlanta receiving support from Federation. Located on the campus of the William Breman Jewish Home, it offers programs and services, along with social and learning opportunities, to help seniors “age in place,” or live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
• 90 members
• 7 monthly activities
• Residents range in age from 60-91

Hunger Walk Recap

We did it again! Hunger Walk/Run 2017 brought the Jewish community together in a big way to raise funds for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and raise awareness for hunger relief. Federation helped mobilize 34 teams representing our synagogues, schools, and Jewish organizations. In total, 207 individuals walked or ran the 5K route through downtown Atlanta! Since 1984, as one of five faith-based organizations participating, the Atlanta Jewish community has consistently claimed first or second place in Hunger Walk fundraising. Final totals are not yet in, but we hope to secure our number one spot once again!

Call for Federation Awards 

Each year Federation honors exceptional community professionals and volunteers for the work they do to strengthen Jewish Atlanta. Awards are given in four categories and nominations are due by April 5. We’re counting on you to help us showcase the talented and dynamic individuals who are taking us to new heights. Questions? Contact Jessica Segal.

Affiliate Spotlight

The Felicia Penzell Weber Jewish Community High School, known as The Weber School, is a coed, pluralistic Jewish high school enrolling 241 students. Weber offers a challenging, highly interdisciplinary college preparatory program of general and Jewish studies. The school has pioneered “fellowships” that give students hands-on exposure to various professions. Seniors undertake a year-long Capstone Project with sustained independent work. The school also offers a five-week Israel experience in partnership with Alexander Muss High School in Israel and a Spanish immersion program in Cuba. Fine and performing arts thrive at Weber, along with intramurals in baseball, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball and cross country. In 2016, Weber graduates received 255 acceptances to more than 80 colleges and universities.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read March 14 newsletter.

March 7, 2017

“The Atlanta Jewish community provides an extraordinary network of care at the end of life, not only for the patient, but for every member of the family.”
By Jenifer Firestone

After 30 years in Boston, I made a life-changing decision to move to Atlanta to help my sister care for our aging parents. I was incredibly lucky to continue in the decade-long profession I love as a hospice social worker and volunteer coordinator at Weinstein Hospice. As the prodigal out-of-town daughter, I had to jump into the incredibly emotional and complicated role of caregiver for two people in their 90s.

In hospice work, you’re trained to view the whole family as the “patient,” understanding that each member has their own experience of loss and grief, and different tolerances for stress. I quickly discovered that every fall, every change in medication, every degeneration of mobility, had consequences. Every setback established a “new normal”, and we all had to adjust.

For five years I managed to keep my parents out of the hospital and in their own apartment. Finally, my father was eligible for in-home care through Weinstein Hospice. What a relief! As a small non-profit program, Weinstein provided 24/7 on-call care for my dad, plus twice-weekly visits from a nurse, social worker, and chaplain, as well as respite visits from a highly-trained hospice volunteer. I felt so blessed by the intuitive instincts of the nurse. She knew better than I did when the end was near and helped us handle it with tenderness and calm.

Just last week I moved my mom, who has dementia, into the Jewish Home. It’s been emotional for me, but I see her every day and know she’s doing beautifully. The Atlanta Jewish community provides an extraordinary network of care at the end of life, not only for the patient, but also for every member of the family. I am grateful as a staff member, and as a client, to be part of it.

Did You Know?

On January 3, 2017, the ALEF Fund uploaded 1,900 applications to the Georgia Department of Revenue for over $6.5 million in Qualified Education Expense tax credits. Once again, the state’s $58 million cap was overenrolled on the first filing day and pledges were prorated to 49.5% (down from last year’s 53.4%). If you were approved for an ALEF tax credit, payment is due by March 11, 2017.

• 1,900 tax credit applications filed – 400 more than last year
• $1.25 million increase in pledges over last year
• $3 million in scholarship dollars expected to go to our Jewish schools

All About Hamantaschen

When we celebrate Purim later this week (March 12-13), many of us will be baking, eating and sharing those triangular filled pastries known as hamantaschen in holiday gift baskets called mishloach manot. Hamantaschen get their name from Haman, the villain of the Purim story. To some, the treat evokes Haman’s three-cornered hat, buttasch also means “pocket” in Yiddish, suggesting the bribe Haman offered Ahasuerus to destroy the Jews. In Israel, Purim pastries of choice are oznei Haman, literally Haman’s ears — fried, twisted and sprinkled with sugar. Hamantaschen fillings run the gamut from traditional poppy seed, apricot and dates, to chocolate chip, peanut butter, halvah and cheese. Here’s a link to 10 sweet and savory hamantaschen fillings. Be creative and enjoy!

Why Be Jewish? 

It’s a difficult question, but one Jews often ask themselves — “Why be Jewish?” For compelling answers, don’t miss the March 9 program, Why Be Jewish?, a partnership between MJCCA and Federation. Hear author Ruth Andrew Ellenson (The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt) and Federation President & CEO Eric Robbins discuss Edgar M. Bronfman’s book, Why Be Jewish?. Published just weeks before Bronfman’s death in 2013, the book unpacks tenets Bronfman says shaped his quarter century of Jewish philanthropy. Among them are a reverence for Jewish tradition, a dedication to social action, a pledge to engage in both Jewish and secular studies, a commitment to ethical business conduct, and the importance of effective leadership. The discussion is free and open to the community, but registration is encouraged.

Volunteer Spotlight

Mazel tov to Megan Williamson and Zachary Kroll, chair and vice-chair of Birthright Israel Alumni Atlanta Network’s leadership committee, for being this month’s volunteers of the month. Megan began her volunteer work with Federation after her 2012 Birthright Israel trip. Since then, she has served on the Leadership Committee in various capacities and will be leading her third trip this coming May. Zack began volunteering after his 2015 trip. Both Megan and Zack have chaired multiple Birthright Alumni and Federation Under 40 events. Under their tenure, the Birthright Leadership Committee has grown to 25 members. The committee meets biannually to plan events for local Birthright Israel alumni and young adults. Megan’s and Zack’s sharp insights into modern Jewish Atlanta help grow Federation’s impact, and we wish them luck in their future leadership roles.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read March 7 newsletter.

February 28, 2017

Building on a Promise

These last weeks of winter have been incredibly fruitful, building on the promise of becoming a more relevant, collaborative, and inclusive Federation. Our recent MLK Mitzvah Day was oversubscribed. Nearly 200 Federation volunteers honored Dr. King’s birthday by doing good at three sites: Atlanta Community Food Bank, Berman Commons, and Hillels of Georgia. The event filled up so quickly and demand was so strong that we will definitely be planning more Mitzvah Days. We’ve tapped into a real hunger for meaningful community service experiences, which I believe can be a powerful doorway to Jewish engagement. Read about some exciting new ventures underway.

Community Service
In January we invited people interested in community service to meet the director of Literacy Action — the Southeast’s oldest and largest basic education nonprofit serving undereducated adults. Literary Action offers profound experiences that are life changing for client and volunteer alike. The evening became a springboard for a larger discussion about creating a Jewish Center for Service & Dialogue that would consolidate volunteer opportunities for people of all ages and help them find the right fit. We are in discussion with JF&CS and other agencies about how to do this collaboratively so that we engage people across Metro Atlanta for greater impact.

Collaboration on Outreach
Earlier this month I met with the leaders of three innovative national Jewish organizations that have now established Atlanta offices. OneTable, led by Shira Rothman Hahn; Interfaith Family, led by Rabbi Malka Packer; and Honeymoon Israel, led by Hannah Spinrad. All of them have ambitious and creative agendas to welcome and engage moreJewish Atlantans. The four of us had an honest, open, and productive discussion about how we can collaborate on the many things we have in common, rather than working in silos. I know that our impact is stronger when we collaborate, and that’s what we intend to do.

Community Forums
Federation is hosting a series of community discussions on timely topics, all aligned with our mission to build community, stand for Israel, and advocate for justice. On Friday, February 17, we offered The Current Status of the Refugee Resettlement Program featuring J.D. McCrary, Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta. The remaining discussions are free and open to the public. Register here.

  • Monday, March 6Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Update (in partnership with American Jewish Committee)
  • Thursday, March 9 – Come see the new play about Jewish Atlanta history that everybody is buzzing about, The Temple Bombing. Then stay on for a discussion on Security in Today’s Jewish Community led by Cathal Lucy, Federation’s Director of Community Wide Security.

Creative Placemaking
Finally, I’m excited that Jodi Mansbach, our new Chief Impact Officer, will be a presenter at the Jewish Funders Network and The Collaboratory conferences coming to Atlanta in March. Jodi is leading sessions on Creative Placemaking in the Jewish Community, challenging national leaders to think intentionally about ways to leverage the power of the arts, culture and creativity to engage more people while driving a bigger agenda for growth and transformation. The Jewish Sustainable Farming project and our emerging Jewish Center for Service & Dialogue are great examples of how Federation is already putting these ideas into practice.
I’m always interested to hear your ideas and get feedback. Drop me a line at erobbins@jewishatlanta.org.

Did You Know?

At MJCCA Day Camps, children with special needs experience the magic of camp without limits through the Inclusion Program. Dedicated specialists and facilitators offer varying levels of support to ensure an enriching experience for each child. The program extends to all MJCCA Day Camps including performing arts, specialty, sports, teen, and traditional camp.

• 135 campers participated last year
• 25 facilitators work with campers to help them gain independence and social skills
• Seven years in operation at MJCCA

Hope Chernak to lead Teen Initiative 

The Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative (AJTI), a partnership between Federation, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association (ARA), is excited to announce that Hope Chernak has been named its new director, beginning April 19.

Hope grew up in Orlando, FL, spent eight summers at Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Camp Coleman, and credits Bobby Harris for inspiring her to become a Jewish educator. Her first full-time job was at The Temple under Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, so she calls her return to Atlanta “a homecoming.” For the past 10 years, Hope was director of both youth and informal education and Israel programs at Temple Shaaray Tefila, in New York City. Previously she directed the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), and before that she was the URJ’s director of youth regions and NFTY’s assistant director.

Hope is a powerhouse in formal and informal Jewish education who came up through the ranks of Jewish camping, youth groups, Israel travel and leadership development. She earned a B.S. in business administration and marketing and formalized her academic training earning an M.A. in religious education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and the designation of Reform Jewish Educator (RJE). Hope was a 2016 recipient of the Grinspoon North American Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

“I am honored to serve as the founding director of the Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative,” Hope says.  “The Atlanta community has put tremendous thought, planning and support into this bold and immersive teen program. AJTI will provide engaging models of meaningful and accessible experiences that are uniquely relevant to Atlanta teens. These experiences will bring a sense of belonging to Jewish teens and inspire them to seek out further opportunities for engagement as Jewish young adults. I look forward to partnering with youth professionals, educators and clergy members to advance teen engagement in a thriving Jewish community I already love.”

Champions for Inclusion

This past weekend, more than 300 people attended the 3rd Annual Power of One reception, hosted by the Jewish Abilities Alliance and Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta during National Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM). The event recognizes individuals from our schools, camps, congregations, and local Jewish agencies who had a significant impact on the inclusion of people with disabilities. Emily Shapiro, who has worked with campers with special needs at Camp Barney Medintz, and in the MJCCA Soar Program, was honored as the first recipient of the Robyn Berger Emerging Leader Award. Robyn Berger was an inclusion pioneer in the Atlanta Jewish community who worked tirelessly to mentor future generations. Additionally, to recognize Ina Enoch, outgoing co-chair of the Jewish Abilities Alliance, for her immeasurable contribution, the JAA Training fund to support professional development opportunities around issues of inclusion was renamed the Ina Enoch Community Disabilities Training Fund.

Why does Susan Newman give to Federation?

Watch to find out![/vc_column_text]


Read the Legislative Update.

Read February 28 newsletter.

February 21, 2017

What Does it Feel Like to Have a Disability?
Gesher L’Torah religious school

This is impossible; I can’t see anything!”
“My eyes hurt from trying see in the dark.”
“Some of the other kids looked at me strange.”
“It seemed like I was always asking for help with something.”
“I don’t know how anyone learns to read like this.”

That’s what our students at Gesher L’Torah said after experiencing “Take a Walk in My Shoes,” a Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA) awareness exercise offered at religious schools throughout Atlanta. Our students rotated through hands-on learning stations designed to let them experience what someone with disabilities may endure, day in and day out, including sensory issues, visual impairment, physical limitations, and auditory issues. The experience heightens personal awareness about visible and invisible disabilities. It also teaches that, while a disability is a part of who someone is, it alone does not define them.

The education staff decided that compassion needed to be taught, not assumed, and that our students should learn how to walk in another person’s shoes for a while, or perhaps how to ride another person’s wheelchair. We know that many young people tend to avoid what makes them feel uncomfortable and that not knowing how to act or respond to differences can be scary. What if someone can’t shake hands? Should I pat them on the shoulder? What if someone walks unsteadily? Will he or she fall? Will I hurt them if I try to help? What if I say the wrong thing?

Take A Walk in My Shoes understands that there is a subtle form of prejudice in our society surrounding disabilities. It’s a discomfort, a fear of what is different and unfamiliar. It often manifests as pity, avoidance or mockery of people. When we see someone with a profound disability, a fleeting thought occurs: “What if that were me?”

We focused on the following overarching ideas.

  • A disability is only one characteristic of a person.
  • People have many facets: likes and dislikes, strengths and challenges.
  • Children with disabilities are like all children in that they want friends, respect and to be included.
  • Children can be born disabled or become disabled from an accident or illness. You can’t “catch” a disability from someone else.
  • Just because someone has a physical disability (when a part or parts of the body do not work well) does not mean they necessarily have a cognitive (or thinking) disability.
  • Children with disabilities can do many of the things we do, but it might take them longer. They may need assistance or adaptive equipment to help them.

When we came together at the end of the experience, we concluded by emphasizing that people with disabilities are individuals with families, jobs, hobbies, likes and dislikes, and problems and joys. Bottom line: don’t turn them into disability heroes or victims. Treat them as individuals.

Article written by: Carla Birnbaum, GLT Assistant Religious School Director
Program run by:  Wendy Bendit, GLT Religious School Learning Resource Specialist.
Program assistance by:  Becky Borak
Congregation Gesher L’Torah Education Director:  Rebecca Gordon

Did You Know?

Friendship Circle of Atlanta is dedicated to creating a friendly and inclusive Jewish community where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Friendship Circle embraces and supports the disabilities community by deploying a vast network of volunteers who promote inclusion through social, educational and Jewish programming.

• 10,960 service hours logged by Friendship Circle volunteers
• 290 volunteers engaged in Friendship Circle outreach programs
• 80 individuals served in Atlanta

Jodi Lox Mansbach Joins Federation

Tomorrow morning, we are all excited to welcome Jodi Lox Mansbach as Federation’s Chief Impact Officer. In this newly created role, Jodi will provide executive leadership and strategic vision for Federation both internally and in collaboration with our affiliates and partners. Jodi is a bold and innovative thinker with strengths in planning, marketing, and nonprofit business. (We absolutely love her design for the rooftop at Ponce City Market!) Much of Jodi’s work here will focus on planning and innovation — developing a new allocations model based on principles of collective impact for our domestic and overseas partners. She will help us design organizational evaluation tools that measure shared outcomes, and will be very involved in the Community Study roll-out.

Jodi is an advocate of the New Urbanism, a human-scaled approach to city planning. Most recently, she worked with the City of Atlanta to launch Atlanta City Studio, Atlanta’s first pop-up urban design center that is incubating new ideas about the design of the City. As a Vice President at Jamestown LP, a real estate investment and management firm, Jodi was a key player in the development of mixed-use properties in the Southeast. She launched Jamestown’s first sustainability program and started and ran Jamestown Charitable Foundation, which supports local food movements, parks and green space, alternative transportation, and design.

Jodi brings tremendous depth of understanding of the trends and challenges facing the nonprofit world. For several years she was Vice President of WordOne LLC, a boutique marketing communications and branding agency for nonprofit and foundation clients. Along with this, she is a true servant-leader, whose time and talents have been shared on our own board many more. Not surprisingly, Jodi is past winner of two Federation awards: the Mary and Max London People Power Award (2015) and the Gerald H. Cohen Community Development Award (2003).

Synagogue Shelters Assist the Homeless in Winter

2017 may not be the coldest winter on record, but for homeless people, Atlanta’s two synagogue shelters are a lifeline. Congregation Shearith Israel was the first synagogue in the nation to open a homeless shelter. Now renamed Rebecca’s Tent, this shelter has been in operation for 32 years, providing 13 women in transition with warm beds, hot meals and MARTA transportation from November to March. To volunteer click here. The Temple’s Zaban Paradies Center (ZPC), founded in 1984, was the first and only shelter in Atlanta helping homeless couples transition to independent living. More than just a safe place to eat and sleep, ZPC helps residents obtain employment, find permanent housing and improve their life skills. To donate or volunteer click here.

Staff Spotlight

Cathal J. Lucy, Federation’s Director of Community-wide Security, joined us last fall and follows in the pioneering footsteps of Dick Raisler, the nation’s first Jewish community security director. Cathal is a retired Secret Service agent. In his 25-year career, Cathal was assigned to the Presidential Protective Division and served Presidents Clinton and Bush, who he protected on 9/11. He was an attaché of the Secret Service in the U.S. Embassy in Paris where he served 23 countries around the globe. This proud son of Boston is a graduate of Boston University and holds two masters — one in criminal justice and another in management from Johns Hopkins. Cathal works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement and was instrumental in ensuring that protocols were followed when bomb threats were called into the MJCCA and Atlanta Jewish Academy last month. Read the AJT story here. We deeply value the protection and professionalism Cathal J. Lucy brings to our community.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read February 21 newsletter.

Feburary 14, 2017

Building a Stronger Disabilities Community
By: Ina Enoch

Right after graduate school I had an experience as a teacher on an inpatient unit for children who were severely and emotionally disturbed. It left an indelible mark on my life and became the foundation of my professional work as a child and adolescent psychologist. It also influenced my volunteer work as an advocate for children with disabilities. Three years ago when AMIT, Atlanta’s centralized Jewish special education agency closed, I was privileged to help lead a task force that was charged with assessing the community’s gaps, desires and needs in becoming a more inclusive Jewish Atlanta. It has been a complex but rewarding journey which continues today under the banner of the  Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA).

Upon the closing of AMIT, Federation affirmed the importance of inclusion by providing the funds to create the Jewish Disabilities Task Force. This group was comprised of lay leaders and parents who created short and long-term goals for the community. Two positions, the Community Disabilities Coordinator and Community Inclusion Coordinator, were funded to help achieve these goals.

Extensive research was done to assess the community’s needs. It was evident that the Jewish community and its agencies were not perceived as warm and welcoming, and that individuals with disabilities and their families did not feel adequately supported. In addition, many of our agencies were operating in silos, unaware of how their colleagues and counterparts were addressing inclusion and disability issues.

A website called the Greater Atlanta Jewish Abilities Alliance was launched in 2015 in partnership with Baltimore’s Jewish Federation. It connects individuals with disabilities and their families to 380 community resources. To build better connections within our disabilities community, JAA now offers listservs for parents of children with disabilities, adults with disabilities, and professionals. They provide families with immediate access and support from one another and a way to share information about resources. A partner group including all of the Jewish agencies and synagogues who strive to be more inclusive meets on a regular basis to analyze and creatively solve problems unique to our community. There are now Learning Resource Specialists (LRS) in many of the congregational religious schools and preschools. The LRS’s provide assistance to teachers and families around classroom management and inclusion related issues.

On February 26, 2017 we will host the third annual Power of One event, which honors individuals who have championed inclusion at many of the agencies and synagogues around the city. We have come a long way in this community towards creating a person-centered, individualized approach for individuals with disabilities. While we have made great strides, we know that there is much work left to be done.

It has been my honor to serve as the co-chair of the Jewish Abilities Alliance Committee for the past three years and to be a part of its creation. I take pride in the steps our Jewish community has taken to become a warmer, more welcoming, and inclusive community for children, adults and families with disabilities.

Did You Know?

The Greater Atlanta Jewish Abilities Alliance website is a comprehensive gateway to community resources for individuals with disabilities and their families. The site reflects the collaborative efforts of parents, committee members and community partners (synagogues, agencies, and schools) to make disabilities services, support groups, workshops and programs more accessible across all age groups.

• 2,965 average monthly visitors to the website
• 380 resources listed on the site
• Atlanta is one of just three U.S. Jewish communities providing this online resource

How Federation Helped Make a Movie

The 2017 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) ends its three-week run tomorrow, and it’s been a fabulous season. Federation is a proud AJFF Community Partner, and you might be interested to know that we also played a unique role in helping award-winning director Brad Lichtenstein get his film, There Are Jews Here, made. Three years ago, Brad, who grew up in Atlanta, approached Federation for a fiscal sponsorship for a film that pays homage to once-thriving and now disappearing Jewish communities across the United States. The project aligned well with Federation’s mission to build and strengthen Jewish communities, so we helped Brad create a fund through which he could raise money from private donors to make the movie. This is another way that Federation and Atlanta Jewish Foundation can be important resources for innovative Jewish ventures.

OneTable Atlanta Elevates Friday Nights

OneTable is an innovative national platform that helps young adults elevate their Friday night dinner experience with online tools to explore what it means to create their own Shabbat. OneTable empowers post-college/pre-family young adults to build personal communities with good food and friends. Hosts can invite people they already know or people outside their network. If you’re looking for a dinner, the site makes it easy. OneTable enhances the experience by providing up to $150 for food, and will soon provide “coaches” to help hosts think creatively about bringing Shabbat rituals into the meal. “We’re helping young adults explore what Friday night means to them,” says Shira Rothman Hahn, who manages the new Atlanta program. With eight dinners already facilitated, OneTable Atlanta is off to a great start.

Affiliate Spotlight

For 126 years, the agency currently known as Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) has brought hope and opportunity to thousands in our community. JF&CS serves Jews and non-Jews alike and has just enhanced and expanded its Dunwoody campus with the intention to provide a person-centered model across all of its service areas. Core programs include Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services, Aviv Older Adult Services, Counseling Services, Child & Adolescent Services, Career Services, and the Ben Massell Dental Clinic. JF&CS values community collaboration and evidence-based practices. More than simply counting the numbers of people served, JF&CS is measuring impact by assessing the actual change that results when individuals use its programs and services.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read February 14 newsletter.

February 7, 2017

“Inclusion is what camp should be about”
By: Sheryl Arno

Adam is our third child — beautiful and brilliant, with an over-the-top intensity and BIG emotions. Before he turned three it became clear that Adam’s inability to rebound from little things like a pebble in his shoe, a spider in the shower, or tags in his clothing, were signs of problems to come. In preschool, he was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction plus ADHD, and even for me, as a long-time professional in the disabilities world, Adam’s journey to inclusion has been an upward climb.

Everyone has dreams and goals for their children, but we Arnos are a Camp Barney Medintz family. Barney songs and Barney experiences are literally the languages we speak. So we had a singular dream for Adam — to get him to Barney and have it be for him the incredible summer place it has been for me, his brother Elliott and his sister Pearl.

Adam first spread his camp wings at age five at the MJCCA’s Alterman Day Camp. There, he had the daily support of a teenage facilitator. We backed off the need for a facilitator for the next three summers and finally, Adam was old enough to attend Barney. Through the Jewish Abilities Alliance, we knew the camp understood inclusion and was invested in his success. Jim Mittenthal, the Executive Director was firm with me: “Even if Adam only makes it for 3 days he’ll be a Barney alum for life!”

Adam not only completed the program, he has returned to camp for five summers. It has been a triumph for all of us who love him.

Last Spring, when my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and plans were underway for our daughter Pearl to become a bat mitzvah, I hatched an idea for Adam and Pearl share their b’nai mitzvah at camp. Jim Mittenthal came through again. “Inclusion is what camp should be about,” he told me and worked diligently to make it an authentic Jewish ritual. Adam and Pearl read their Torah portions and gave speeches before the entire camp community. My son, who for years wouldn’t look you in the eye, stood up before 600 people and told how Camp Barney made him feel Jewish and gave him the confidence to succeed.

Here’s what I know deep in my bones: Every child deserves the dignity of risk. We cannot protect our kids from everything, so we have to let them try, and fail, and try again and again until they ultimately succeed. Inclusion isn’t a “program,” it’s a philosophy. Programs cost money, but inclusion is a mindset that doesn’t have to cost a thing. When we open our arms and our minds to inclusion, our hearts open too.

Did You Know?

LOTEM (an acronym for the Hebrew phrase meaning “integrated nature studies”) is the leading organization in Israel offering accessible hikes and educational nature activities for children and adults with special needs. LOTEM also serves at-risk youth and mothers and children who live in shelters for victims of domestic violence. LOTEM operates an ecological farm in the picturesque Emek HaShalom (Valley of Peace) Nature Park near Yokneam.

  • 30,000 people are engaged in nature activities each year
  • 90 nature clubs are facilitated around Israel by LOTEM
  • LOTEM pioneered the Green Fitness program promoting exercise in nature for adults with intellectual disabilities

Jewish Conferences Coming to Atlanta

We’re proud that Atlanta will welcome five major Jewish conferences to town in March. Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) holds its Professional Institute, March 6-8 in Atlanta, and many of our staff and community leaders will be attending workshops and programs there. We’re also excited to be a local host of the Jewish Funders Network International Conference, March 19-21. JFN works with Jewish funders to improve the quality and impact of their giving in the Jewish world. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinical body of the Reform Movement, convenes its meeting March 19-22. The Collaboratory, a network for Jewish innovators and change-makers, has its national meeting in Atlanta March 21-23, and the National Council of Jewish Women meets here March 23-25.

Building Volunteerism

On January 25, Atlantans eager to engage in community service met at Federation for a presentation from Literacy Action — the Southeast’s oldest and largest adult basic education nonprofit helping undereducated adults build a better future by teaching literacy and life and work skills. Following presentations by Literary Action’s Executive Director Austin Dickson, Federation CEO Eric Robbins, and The Temple’s Rabbi David Spinrad, the evening became a springboard for a larger discussion about creating a Jewish Center for Service. The center would consolidate volunteer opportunities for people of all ages and help match volunteers with appropriate activities. For more information about this project, contact Stephanie Wyatt, Federation’s VP of Engagement & Leadership Development.

Volunteer Spotlight 

Mazal tov to Adam Pomeranz, the newly appointed vice-chair of Federation’s Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA) Committee. Adam has had a lifelong commitment to disabilities and inclusion, going back to his childhood in Miami growing up with an older brother with developmental disabilities. Adam has combined his personal commitment to inclusion with professional studies in mental health and business to become a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. For the past 12 years, Adam has been the CEO of Annandale Village, a residential community in Suwanee, GA, for adults with developmental disabilities, serving nearly 200 individuals. He brings a 20+ year commitment to making Atlanta a more welcoming community for individuals with special needs, and JAA is deeply grateful for his leadership.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read February 7 newsletter.

January 31, 2017

“I made space for Judaism in my life because of Jewish Student Union”
By: Daniel Sandfelder

Everyone warns you that junior year of high school is stressful. Between academics, the fencing team, and acting in school plays, there isn’t time to cram in much more. In freshman year I met this amazing man, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, who runs Jewish Student Union (JSU) clubs at my high school, and his passion for Judaism really changed me. I made space for Judaism in my life because of JSU.

At Centennial High School, the Christian student clubs can feel aggressive and intimidating to me. JSU’s approach is casual, tolerant, and inspiring. I was very moved by this teaching, right before Passover. Rabbi Neiditch told how, during the Exodus, Moses reached the Red Sea and stopped. He let an ordinary guy named Nachshon take the first step into the sea. Nachshon keeps on going, even when the water reaches his nostrils. At the last possible moment, the sea splits. This story tells me that anyone can do amazing things and push beyond their limits.

I know that I have. On a JSU ski trip last winter we all celebrated Shabbat, and it created so much joy and happiness in me that I came home and started keeping kosher. This is pretty big in my interfaith family. Even though Judaism was the predominant religion in our home, I wasn’t very public about being Jewish and I didn’t observe rituals or laws. Today I’m president of my JSU chapter and actually thinking about a Jewish studies major in college.  JSU awakened the Jewish values that always lived inside me.

Federation supports Jewish Student Union to strengthen Jewish identity and develop young leadership.

Did You Know?

The 2017 session of the Georgia General Assembly is underway. To keep you informed on key issues we’re providing weekly updates from Federation’s Legislative Counsel, Rusty Paul. Click on the legislative update link below the red box and above upcoming events in FederationFive every week to stay on top of our priority issues, including:

  • Tax credit legislation to protect the ALEF Fund
  • Maintaining adequate Medicaid reimbursement rates for the William Breman Home
  • Restoration of funding for nonprofit health clinics like the Ben Massell Dental Clinic
  • New funding for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Balser Symposium: Empowering and Energizing Philanthropy 

For the 11th consecutive year, Atlanta Jewish Foundation joined the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta, to sponsor and convene the Balser Symposium – an educational seminar attracting approximately 200 professional advisors. The Symposium draws national speakers to educate advisors about the philanthropic landscape and encourage them to discuss philanthropy with their clients.  This year’s Keynote speaker was Dr. Raj Raghunathan, of the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, who spoke about his academic work studying happiness and its relationship to philanthropy.

This year’s Symposium also featured a presentation about the Balser Professional Advisors Council’s (BPAC) Giving Circle, which just completed its inaugural year.  A component program to the Balser Symposium, The BPAC Giving Circle meets throughout the year to learn about needs in our community and invites innovative nonprofit programs addressing those needs to apply for a grant of $25,000.  At the end of each year, the Giving Circle hears from three finalists and selects one of the three to receive the grant. This year’s recipient was Our House, a service agency offering tools, support and education to families with young children experiencing homelessness.

A JDC Trip to Ethiopia with the JDC

Lisa Lebovitz, one of Federation’s Campaign Development professionals, took her volunteerism to a new level when she traveled to Ethiopia to learn about the Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) work in the region. JDC Entwine trips are exclusively for Jewish young adults. Lisa told us: “I landed in Addis Ababa with 18 diverse trip-mates, all driven by the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. What I brought home was immense gratitude for freedom of speech and access to modern medicine, as well as close to 500 pictures of stunning landscapes, delicious injera, and exceptional new friends.” Learn more about Entwine trips and email Lisa to hear more about her experience and see all 496 of her pictures.

Why I Give: Giving it all away 

Great philanthropy has the power to move and inspire. Which is why we wanted to share an amazing story about a New York philanthropist, 85-year-old James Feeney, who quietly gave away the last $7 million of his $8 billion fortune. No other philanthropist in the world has given away a bigger proportion of his wealth. Feeney’s donations have focused on higher education, public health, human rights and scientific research, yet he has no buildings with his name on them and his beneficiaries were not allowed to publicize his gifts. Lewis Shubin, chair of Federation’s Allocations Committee, who brought the story to our attention, commented, “I thought that Mr. Feeney’s story demonstrates the great joy and the great good that personal philanthropy can bring to the donor and the world. Feeney’s modesty, his innate frugality, and ultimately his generosity, are what he will be remembered for. His mindset of anonymous ‘giving while living’ exemplifies the highest Jewish ideals of tzedakah.” Read the full story about Mr. Feeney.

Read the Legislative Update.

Read January 31 newsletter.

January 24, 2017

Reflections From Eric
Shabbat Shalom in Toco Hills

As Ana and I continue to learn about Atlanta’s Jewish communities, we spent the cold and icy weekend of January 6-7 “embedded” in what is surely one of Atlanta’s warmest, most vibrant Jewish micro-communities — Toco Hills. We experienced Shabbat from beginning to end, discovering a depth of hospitality and harmony that is beautiful and all too rare. Over the course of 25 hours, we were embraced by a unique Jewish community that is incredibly diverse and cohesive at the same time.

On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Adam Starr graciously offered me a chance to speak at Young Israel of Toco Hills. I commented on the weekly Torah portion, Vayigash, near the end of the Joseph story. In retrospect, I couldn’t have imaged a more relevant teaching than the way Joseph’s fractured family ultimately resolves years of misunderstanding and resentment. In the very next portion Jacob, the patriarch, blesses his sons, acknowledging each brother’s unique role. That kind of unity within diversity is exactly what I saw in Toco Hills.

I’m sure many of you have seen the parade of families streaming up and down LaVista Road on Shabbat, coming and going to synagogue, or carrying potluck dishes on their way to meals with friends. Within the eruv (the ritual enclosure that permits Jewish residents or visitors to carry certain objects in public on Shabbat) that delineates this community are at least five congregations. They range from Reconstructionist, modern and traditional Orthodox, to Sephardic and Persian. On any given Shabbat, you’ll see women covering their heads in scarves, wigs, and hats, or nothing at all. You’ll see men wearing knitted kippahs, black kippahs, fedoras and fur-rimmed shtreimels. It’s a glorious sight.

Because Toco Hills has proximity to the CDC, Emory University and several hospitals, the community is full of men and women who are doctors, lawyers, academics, public health professionals, teachers and innovators. It’s an intellectual oasis. Though many people we met grew up with secular Jewish backgrounds, they’ve chosen this committed, observant Jewish life and are passionate about sharing it.

They care intensely about education, Jewish camp, Israel, the obligation of tzedakah, and each other. When a family is in need, the word goes out across Toco Hills and suddenly meals are delivered, children are driven to school, and prayers are offered. Families are large, but generosity runs deep. An incredible 40% of the donations supporting relief after the fires in Israel came from members of Young Israel of Toco Hills.

Unity within diversity. It’s right here in our Toco Hills Jewish community. And if you want to experience it, just call any of the synagogues along LaVista Road and ask to be invited. I guarantee you’ll find a Shabbat table to join, a warm place to sleep, and an unforgettable Jewish welcome.

All our Atlanta Jewish micro-communities have something to teach, and I look forward to immersing myself each of them.

 Did You Know?

In an effort to promote all streams of Judaism, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta supports Beit Hillel, the Modern Orthodox Movement in Israel. Beit Hillel believes an authentic, enlightened, and inclusive Judaism is critical for Israel today. As a collective of Modern Orthodox scholars and leaders — including women — Beit Hillel provides a unified perspective on issues that could otherwise be divisive.

  • 120 Rabbis, scholars and leaders are members of Beit Hillel
  • Beit Hillel is the first and only Orthodox rabbinical association in which women take equal part in leadership
  • Beit Hillel supports religious LGBTQ Jews

Breaking Ground in Community Collaboration 
This year, driven by principles of collective impact — a process where organizations and partners agree to solve complex problems collaboratively by looking broadly at data and impact — our Caring Outcomes Committee is breaking new ground. “We’re shifting our focus from what individual programs do, to what all of our programs do collectively,” says Amy Glass, Federation’s Community Planning & Impact Manager. “It’s a better way to measure impact, and a better tool for understanding what the community really needs. In the disabilities area, for example, we’re bringing Allocations Committee members, Federation grantees, other community service providers and key stakeholders to the same table for a deeper examination of community needs and priorities. These discussions have been rich and productive, building trust and deepening relationships across agencies.” The new process is beginning with the Caring Outcomes Committee, and our learning about best practices will be applied over time to all allocations areas.

We Spent MLK Day in a Jewish Way

Federation’s first Mitzvah Day of 2017, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, attracted a big, enthusiastic and multi-generational audience of nearly 200 people. Service projects were offered in three locations: Hillels of Georgia (Emory campus), Berman Commons, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. At Hillels of Georgia families made tzedakah boxes with their kids. At the Food Bank volunteers sorted and boxed 19,000 pounds (12,700 meals!) of donated food and supplies for distribution to more than 600 organizations. Berman Commons volunteers made 600 PB&J sandwiches for local shelters and fire and police stations. “The turnout proves our community is eager to give back meaningfully, and we plan to provide more opportunities like this,” said Federation’s Rachel Kosberg, Under 40 Development Officer, who helped organize the event. Chairs for Mitzvah Day 2017 were Michael Plasker & Ellen Arnovitz, Amy Arogeti and Josh Gold.

Why I Give

Why does Kimberly Swartz give to Federation?

Watch to find out![/vc_column_text]


Read our January 24 full newsletter.

January 17, 2017

Kids Lead Family into Jewish Observance
When your kids lead your family into Jewish observance, it’s incredible!

Hanukkah comes in the winter, Passover comes in the spring, and the High Holy Days come in the fall. But honestly, summer is always the most Jewish time in our family’s life. That’s because Jacki (9) and Sam (5) both go to In the City Camp (ITCC), and all summer long they bring home the Hebrew songs, prayers, Jewish foods, games and dances they’ve learned at camp and share them with us.

My husband and I grew up in South Florida, surrounded by Jewish kids. But here in Decatur, and in our local public schools, Jewish families have to work hard to find each other. Yes, we belong to a synagogue and our kids go to Sunday school, but the Jewish stuff they get at ITCC is somehow even deeper and more lasting. It just sticks.

I think it’s because ITCC is a Jewish day camp with a sleepaway camp “feel.” The kids are divided into “bunks,” and they bond with their counselors, and choose their own activities just like at overnight camp. It’s a great fit for kids who aren’t ready for sleepaway, and a great try-out for Jacki, who will be at ITCC for her fourth summer and also attending Camp Barney for the first time.

ITCC has been a spark for our whole family’s identity. The kids bake challah at camp every Friday and those loaves are the centerpiece of family Shabbat dinners in the summer. When your kids lead your family into deeper Jewish observance, it’s incredible!

Did You Know?

Honeymoon Israel (HMI) provides immersive trips to Israel for local groups of young couples with at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship. Each trip cohort creates a community of couples who can explore how to build families with meaningful connections to Jewish life. With an approach of welcome, not pushiness, Honeymoon Israel promotes an inclusive view of Jewish life for partners from other faiths and for Jews who have not had strong ties to Judaism.

  • 38 couples from Metro Atlanta have participated in Honeymoon Israel trips.
  • 73% of participants reported taking part in Jewish activities following the trip – a 13% increase from before the trip.
  • April 19 – June 2 is the next application cycle for Atlanta’s December 2017 trip. Apply here.

Birthright Trip Spends Hanukkah in Israel

They’re baaaack! Forty young Atlantans recently returned from a ten-day Birthright Israel trip and they’re excited to keep in touch with one another through many of the upcoming Jewish events in Atlanta. The group departed on Christmas day — and with Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve overlapping this year, they spent both of the holidays in Israel. Their packed itinerary included touring the mystical city of Tzfat, hiking around the ancient city of Gamla, and spending a morning in Yokneam, Federation’s partnership city, where Israeli peers, called mifgashim (mifgash means “encounter” in Hebrew), joined their bus for five days. “Their energy, singing, and unique points of view brought so much spirit to the trip,” one participant said.  “Without the mifgashim, the Birthright experience would be very different.”

In Jerusalem’s Old City several participants put on tefillin for the first time, and everyone wrote notes to put in the Kotel. The group celebrated Shabbat and the seventh night of Hanukkah by returning to the Western Wall. They sang, danced, and were able to share in a unique and holy experience that deeply touched both the Americans and their new Israelis friends. “In America, dreidles are marked Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin, which means ‘A great miracle happened there.’ But Israeli dreidles are marked Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Peh, to signify ‘A great miracle happened here, in Israel,’ said Ryan Kaplan, a Federation staff member who led the trip, “The way that Birthright brings 40 like-minded young adults together and builds bonds with Israel and her citizens is certainly a miracle.”

See all the pictures from the trip!

Do Something Different This Summer

Jewish middle and high schoolers looking to “do something different this summer” found great options at Federation’s 2nd Annual Jewish Teen Summer Experiences Expo on January 8. The free event brought together representatives from 17 different summer programs that target the 12-18 age group, each offering a unique way to have a fun and meaningful summer experience in a Jewish context. The Expo was part of Federation’s camping initiative which seeks to send more Jewish kids to Jewish summer programs. Through Federation, there’s financial assistance available for many Jewish overnight camp programs, as well as “concierge service” to help connect teens to the right experience. Find out more about summer programs and camp scholarships from Samantha Tanenbaum, Federation’s Community Camp Ambassador.

Staff Spotlight

Born in Portugal, raised around the world in Canada, Germany, Morocco and the Czech Republic, Uduak Bassey nevertheless calls Abuja, Nigeria, her home base. Uduak joined us in November and is breaking new ground as Federation’s first full-time Program Evaluation Manager. A graduate of University of Miami and the Rollins School of Public Health, Uduak provides our grantees with tools to evaluate, analyze, and report on their programs and prepare them for the allocations process. “By boosting capacity to plan and evaluate programs, we give both Federation and the grantees better data and strategies to make good funding and implementation decisions. Right now I am introducing the ‘logic model’ as a framework for reviewing program benchmarks and outcomes,” she says. “Everyone has been great about explaining Jewish traditions, concepts and words to me. In just three months I’ve learned so much!”

Read January 17 full newsletter.

January 10, 2017

“I couldn’t have predicted this if I’d tried”
By: Amy Shafron, Davis Academy

I’m a small-town Canadian girl who pursued a career in law thinking that I could make a difference. Fast forward, several career paths and a handful of cities later — I’ve now been in Atlanta for 13 years, and for the past seven years as head of school at The Davis Academy, I am doing the most important work imaginable: preparing our community’s Jewish children for their futures. I couldn’t have predicted this if I’d tried.

It’s both an awesome responsibility and a great privilege to change “little lives” each and every day at what is the largest Reform Jewish day school in the country. Our families represent the true diversity of our local Jewish community — speaking a variety of languages at home, composed of every type of family structure, and spanning liberal to traditional, unaffiliated and interfaith.

Unlike when I went to school, learning today is limited only by one’s imagination. Each day I see students connect with peers around the globe via technology, publish books, play in rock bands, design robots, converse fluently in both Hebrew and Spanish, travel to places from Savannah to Israel, study Torah text, and so much more. Thanks to the generosity of our community, our students will soon benefit from new innovative learning spaces with the opening of a highly-anticipated expansion in January that includes a performing arts theatre, chapel, dining hall and kitchen, and several new adaptable classroom spaces.

And I often see something less tangible, but truly vital, happening within our walls. At least half of the families joining the Davis community each year were previously unaffiliated with any Jewish organization, so I am especially proud that our school continues to serve as perhaps Atlanta’s most impactful gateway to Jewish engagement for young families. The results are affirming. Once our children become inspired, their parents learn alongside, join our weekly joyous Kabbalat Shabbat services, celebrate in our school sukkahs and make latkes together. Their overall commitment to “doing Jewish” deepens and ultimately they join synagogues, get involved in the wider community and support Federation. Over time, Davis children discover Jewish camps, are active in Jewish youth groups, travel to Israel, and serve in leadership roles as teens and young adults.

Some may say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I beg to differ. There’s nothing like a place where hundreds of children and their families (and almost 1,000 graduates and their families) view the world each and every day through a modern, joyful and Jewishly-meaningful lens. I couldn’t have predicted my path and am truly blessed to be doing the most important work imaginable: preparing our community’s Jewish children for their futures.

Did You Know?

Jewish Kids Groups (JKG) is an independent, experiential Hebrew school in Metro Atlanta designed for families of all backgrounds. JKG infuses the fun of Jewish summer camp into Sunday and afterschool programs, while building Jewish identity.

  • 237 students enrolled; 52 teachers on staff
  • 4 sites in Metro Atlanta
  • 40% of JKG families identify as interfaith

Meet Our Lobbyist

Since 2008, Rusty Paul has represented Federation in the Georgia General Assembly as our community lobbyist. (Yes, nonprofits are permitted to lobby for policies that benefit their clients and advance their mission.) Rusty has been an effective advocate for our work in disabilities, Medicaid reimbursement for the elderly, Naturally-Occuring Retirement Communities (NORC), and the ALEF Fund tax credit program. As a former Georgia state senator, and the current mayor of Sandy Springs, Rusty brings nearly 40 years of federal, state and local public policy experience to his work on our behalf. And he’s a tremendous friend of Israel, having traveled there many times. “I love working with Federation. I can proudly walk into any legislative office knowing that my advocacy will help and serve the most vulnerable within our community.” Read the list of legislative priorities.

Atlanta’s Cheryl Finkel to Lead Covenant Foundation Board

Atlanta’s Cheryl Finkel, who served for 20 years as head of Epstein School, was recently appointed Chair of the Board of the Covenant Foundation, which supports innovation in Jewish education. As the head of Epstein School, Finkel grew enrollment exponentially and invigorated the Jewish community in the Atlanta area. She went on to become a member of the Jewish Day School Leadership Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where she mentored hundreds of new day school leaders from across the country. Finkel also spent eight years as a senior consultant at Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, where she provided management coaching to over 175 schools. Mazel tov to Cheryl on this important new role in Jewish education.

Affiliate Spotlight

For more than 60 years, Jewish Home Life Communities (JHLC) has provided quality care, support and services for older adults and their families. What began as the William Breman Jewish Home has expanded to become Jewish Home Life Communities — a comprehensive system of eight communities and services. The agency combines the services of The William Breman Jewish Home, Aviv Rehabilitation Center, the Zaban Tower, the Cohen Home, Berman Commons, the One Group, Meyer Balser NORC, and Weinstein Hospice. Guided by the biblical commandment to honor one’s mother and father, JHLC is dedicated to helping families meet the challenges of aging with grace and dignity.

Read January 10 full newsletter.

January 3, 2017

“It was up to me to keep Judaism alive in my little family.”
By: Karen Bowen

By the time my twins Megan and Brett were 14 months old, my marriage to their father was over. Their Dad isn’t Jewish, and after the divorce he was pretty detached from the kids. Suddenly, I was their everything. I realized it was up to me to keep Judaism alive in my little family.

Even before my divorce, I signed the twins up for PJ Library, and took them to Tot Shabbat at Kol Emeth. Later on I started looking into Big Brother programs for my son. You had to be at poverty level to qualify for these mentoring programs – but luckily, not for PAL, Atlanta’s only Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program.

Amazing things happened the minute I met the PAL Program Manager, Carly Sonenshine at JF&CS. She encouraged me to put both kids in the program and then matched us with our Big PALS — Bennett Ginburg for Brett, and Marni Bronstein for Megan. They take the kids to events, out for ice cream, and just have fun with them. To say my twins have bonded with them is an understatement.

A Big PAL fills in huge gaps for a single parent. They are friends in a way a parent can never be. Brett has ADHD and dyslexia and Bennett really understands it. Megan was nervous about going to camp Coleman next summer, and Marni handled her anxiety beautifully.

Megan and Brett’s PALS give them one-on-one time I can never provide enough of. After three years with Bennett and Marni they’ve found friends, role models and Jewish mentors for life.

If you think your family would benefit from the PAL program, learn more here.

Federation is proud to support JF&CS’ PAL Program which provides one-one-one mentor relationships for children, with trusted adults.

Did You Know?

Leket Israel
, which is supported by Federation, is the largest food bank in Israel. Leket sources, collects and redistributes fresh, perishable, quality food, which would otherwise be considered waste, from farms, hotels, military bases and catering halls.

  • 40 million pounds of food rescued in 2016
  • 175,000 needy Israelis served each week
  • 50-60 thousand annual volunteers

Funding Big Ideas

Federation is pleased to announce the winners of the fifth cycle of the Jewish Continuity Innovation Fund. These grants were awarded for the winners’ innovative approach to engaging the Jewish community through collaboration, technology, pluralism, and serving unmet needs. This year the grant review process was steered by an experienced cohort of volunteers from our Under 40 Division Board, and others who took part in Federation’s Emerging Leaders Project. Thirteen organizations/programs applied for innovation grants. Here are the winners:

Atlanta Kosher Barbecue – Hebrew Order of David
Senior Day at the MJCCA
Jewish Fertility Foundation
OneTable (Atlanta)
InterfaithFamily (Atlanta) – Love & Religion Workshops

Tell Us How to Make This Newsletter Even Better!

With this issue, FederationFive, our weekly newsletter, celebrates its five-month anniversary. Many of you have told us
you enjoy our short, five-story format and the information we provide. Our email analytics only tell part of the story about our readership. Now we’re drilling down to learn what kinds of stories you want to read more of and what you want less of. Please take our survey today and help us make FederationFive even better.

Volunteer Spotlight

“Expert, advocate, totally committed!” That’s what Federation staff and community leaders say about Cort Haber, who has served on Federation’s Investment Committee for 14 years. Cort, a professional wealth advisor at Haber Investment Counsel, has led the group through several important initiatives and has recruited many talented professionals to the committee. “The investment marketplace offers so many approaches and solutions that it can be complicated to navigate. We want to be sure we find the right solutions for our donors and that Federation’s endowment funds are invested prudently and monitored with strong fiduciary oversight.” Cort is especially proud that during his tenure, Federation investments have outperformed their benchmarks every calendar year except one. How lucky we are to have Cort Haber on our investment team!

Read January 3 full newsletter.

December 27, 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Looking Back and Looking Forward
Reflections from Eric

I spent part of last week in Pittsburgh where I grew up, returning home for a family simcha (occasion). All of my memories of Pittsburgh are comforting — I always recall feeling enveloped by a caring and engaged Jewish community and knowing that Jewish Federation was a part of that. I decided to devote a day of my visit to meet with my Federation counterparts there. It was very affirming to see that Pittsburgh had already moved forward with many of the ideas that are brewing in my own vision for Atlanta.

As in Atlanta, Pittsburgh’s Federation has put significant emphasis on their Jewish Foundation and its growing role in philanthropy. They’ve established a Jewish Volunteer Center operating in a house owned by Federation, and they have a very active Jewish Community Relations Council based at Federation. Pittsburgh has also embraced new programs like Repair the World which operates in a gentrifying city neighborhood.

My visit was full of tender moments and powerful Jewish connections. During many of my Pittsburgh years, my mother, who has since passed away, was a bookkeeper for a Jewish business owner who chaired the Pittsburgh Federation. One of my special moments was running into Jack Myers and his wife Bernice who were at Federation preparing for a mission to Cuba. They expressed how proud my mother would have been that I have assumed this role in Atlanta, and that it felt bashert (destiny) to see me here. It all reinforced the reasons why I am here working so hard in Atlanta to make this a 21st century Jewish community that will set the pace for all of North America, honoring the values of caring that my mother instilled in me.

Earlier in the week I was in Chicago with other Jewish Federations and several foundations concerned about engaging the next generation. It was exciting to participate in a high level discussion that confronted the truth — what got us here, won’t get us there. Federations must seriously rethink how they engage the next generation. This means building communities that are creative and innovative, that let the next generation define what their communities will look like. For me it underscored that engagement is not just about fundraising, it’s about inspiring individuals to connect to Jewish peoplehood in ways that make their lives better, make them better people, and ultimately make our world a better place.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy Hanukkah. May the light of the candles inspire you to a deeper connection to our shared faith and community, and may that light stay with you throughout 2017. I look forward to a great year ahead as I devote myself to strengthening our community.

Did You Know?
Since 2010, the Jewish Interest Free Loan of Atlanta (JIFLA) has provided short-term, interest-free loans to help fellow Jews maintain financial stability during challenging financial periods. JIFLA loans provide an alternative to high-interest-rate debt and have helped keep many people afloat in times of personal and financial difficulty.

  • $296,795 in loans have been awarded since 2010
  • 89 individuals have received financial assistance through JIFLA
  • In 2016 JIFLA doubled the number of loans and dollars awarded over the previous year

Spend MLK Day in a Jewish Way 

Federation’s upcoming Mitzvah Day is a chance to spend Monday, January 16 — MLK Day — in a very Jewish way. On Mitzvah Day you can choose the service project, the time of day, and the location that works best for you. There will be service opportunities for people of all ages — Under 40s, families with children, and empty nesters. On a day dedicated to service, we’ll all make a difference by participating in hands-on community projects that underscore Federation’s mission of caring and community building. No matter what part of town you live in, or your life stage, you’ll find something meaningful to do.

  1. Marcus Hillel Center | Emory Area | 9:30-11:30 am
  2. Atlanta Community Food Bank | West Midtown | 1-4 pm
  3. Berman Commons | Dunwoody | 2-4 pm

Questions? Contact Rachel Kosberg, 404.870.1614.

Hanukkah in East Cobb-Tonight!

There are still five nights of Hanukkah remaining, with plenty of opportunities to celebrate the Festival of Lights across Jewish Atlanta. Check out this list of community celebrations as compiled by GrapeVine.

Tonight, join your friends and neighbors in East Cobb for a free community Hanukkah party, coordinated by Federation. Come celebrate at Temple Beth Tikvah, 9955 Coleman Road, Roswell, from 6:30–8 pm, along with our partners: Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, Chabad of Cobb, Congregation Etz Chaim, InterfaithFamily, MJCCA, Temple Beth Tikvah, Temple Kehillat Chaim, and Temple Kol Emeth. We’ll light the menorah, enjoy homemade sufganiyot (jelly doughtnuts), and dance! PJ Library Atlanta will have stories and crafts for the kids. Please bring gently used coats and jackets to donate to a local shelter. RSVP to Stephanie Wyatt.

Why I Give- Why does David Golden give to Federation? 

Watch to find out!

Read December 27 full newsletter.

December 20, 2016

intergen4Breaking Age Barriers
What can happen when teens and older adults break through age boundaries?

Sydney Rein is a busy Weber School sophomore who competes in cross-country and triathlons, and is thinking about medical school. Fran Hirsh is a 76-year-old retiree who lives at the Jewish Tower. Their worlds are far apart, but thanks to a collaborative project called Ageless interAction, the two are now friends.

As Sydney tells it, “The first time I met Fran Hirsch we were so busy chopping vegetables and making rice in the JCC kitchen that we could have talked for hours. I learned that Fran was married at 18, had a daughter, and got divorced at a time when being a single mom carried a lot of stigma. Fran is a woman who really shaped her own life. At age 20 she started her own successful electronics repair business in Florida with clients in the aerospace industry. There were hardly any women in that field and she dealt with a lot of prejudice. I loved her courage, her determination to succeed. She lives an active life in Atlanta near her daughter, and remains unconventional. She is a pioneer whose strength inspires me.”

And Sydney inspired Fran. “She reminds me that young women really do need to hear our stories and that we can learn from each other. I connected with her focus and drive.”

These priceless encounters would not have occurred without the inspiration of Ageless Interaction, LLC, a non-profit that coordinates inter-generational programs, and Janie Walker, Federation’s NORC Program Manager. Janie wondered what would happen if high school students and Jewish older adults met through hands-on activities like cooking at the JCC? What if they really broke through age boundaries and shared their most personal stories? Ageless Interaction was a complex collaboration bringing six different community organizations together — The MJCCA, The Atlanta History Center, Story Corps, The Weber School, The Cuba Archives of The Breman Museum, and Meyer Balser & Toco Hills NORCs. Together they shaped powerful inter-generational experiences for Weber School students and seniors from around our community.

Weber school sophomore Aliza Abusch-Magder, will never forget the searing story of Manuella Bornstein, an 82-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. “My relationship with Manuella brings together so many things I care about — family, feminism, history. I actually love that she is not my age,” Aliza says. “Manuella’s family lived in Paris during the Nazi occupation and through a series of incredible accidents, or maybe miracles, they were smuggled to the South of France and survived the war. Manuella was nine-years-old and had no idea she was fleeing danger. Caring Christians gave her father work and provided identification papers. While in hiding, her mother had a son. They left Paris as four and returned as five. That was another miracle. Manuella is a role model for me, and I’m excited to see where our friendship goes.”

“I love the happiness in these young people, and how they express themselves,” Manuella reflects. “Too often our friends are similar to us in age and experience.  I have grown from knowing Aliza.”

Each of the Ageless Interaction conversations were recorded by StoryCorps and are now preserved at the Cuba Archives, and at the Atlanta History Center.

Federation is proud to support projects like Ageless Interaction that build bridges of understanding in our community.

There’s Still Time

100-days-purple100 Days of Impact — the solicitation phase of the 2017 Community Campaign — has ended, but there’s still time to make your gift before the end of the year. Just click here to see all the ways you can fulfill your campaign pledge. For those who want to hand-deliver checks, Federation is open for business until 4 pm on December 31. Call Cindy Weik at 404-870-1623 with any questions. Thank you for making possible all the good we do!

Building Bridges to Israel

picSeven Israeli adults from Federation’s partnership region in Yokneam, Israel, wrapped up a week-long trip to Atlanta through a bridge-building program called Kesher. The Israelis are adult learners who, for the past two years, studied in tandem with 11 Atlanta adults at the MJCCA’s Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. The trip deepened friendships built in August when the Atlanta group traveled to Yokneam. “The group bonded in a powerful way!” says Talya Gorsetman, who helps manage the Melton program. They visited The Temple, Federation, The Breman Museum, Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, several Jewish day schools, the MJCCA, CNN, and attended a Hawks game. They learned together with Atlanta rabbis and educators, and enjoyed home hospitality over Shabbat. Gorsetman said, “Kesher, which literally means ‘bridge’ in Hebrew, has connected our communities in the most intimate and human way possible. These adults are not just study partners, they are family now.”

Needs-Based Camp Scholarships 

Thinking about Jewish overnight camp? Concerned about the cost? Needs-based scholarships are available to assist eligible families, thanks to the generosity of individual donors, grants from charitable foundations, and Federation’s Annual Campaign, but you must act quickly. The deadline for needs-based scholarships is January 30, 2017 at 11:59 pm EST. There is no limit to the number of children in a family who can apply, and the application process is confidential.  One Happy Camper incentive grants are also available for all first-time overnight campers, on a first-come first-served basis, regardless of need. Award decisions will be made no later than April 1, 2017. If you have questions, contact Samantha Tanenbaum, 678-222-3730.

Meet Amy Glass

amyAmy Glass, Ph.D., Federation’s Community Planning and Impact Manager, came to us from Georgia State where she launched the Center for Collaborative Social Work. She now brings that collaborative mindset to Federation’s investments in aging, disabilities, health and financial well-being programs — what we call our “Caring Portfolio.” Amy views Federation as Jewish Atlanta’s backbone agency with the unique ability to evaluate programs and develop strategic road maps. “A great example is how we helped bring the MJCCA, NORC, and JF&CS together for two successful Senior Day programs, or how Federation took a grassroots idea like One Good Deed and helped shape it into a successful service program.” Amy’s ability to bring people to the table and facilitate collaborative conversations has already had real impact in Jewish Atlanta.

Read December 20 full newsletter.

December 13, 2016

MACoM: Atlanta’s new mikvah for everyone
Guest Writer – Barbara LeNoble, Executive Director of MACoM

mikva-bbSitting at the top of our staircase, straining to pick up nuggets of conversations from my mother and her friends during their mah jongg game, I vividly recall an animated discussion about mothers and grandmothers and something called a mikvah. It was my first exposure to the Jewish ritual bath, and all I could grasp was that it didn’t sound like anything I’d want to do.

Things have changed. For more than a decade, immersion the mikvah has seen a surge in popularity as a venue for spiritual discovery. Responding to the trend, Atlanta now has MACoM, the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Mikvah, a modern mikvah open to Jews across the spectrum of observance.

At MACoM we honor tradition, but we also invite innovation. The mikvah is available for creative Jewish expressions that acknowledge personal milestones and journeys — significant birthdays, healing from pregnancy loss, marking the onset of menopause, or celebrating an anniversary of being cancer free.  I love the way MACoM provides a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for all members of the Jewish community to find spiritual meaning, healing, and renewal.

There was a need for a place like MACoM. It is the only mikvah across three states that welcomes all men and women interested in converting to Judaism. We also serve as a sacred space for the entire Jewish community. This year alone we expect to host close to 30 events with local partners like The Jewish Fertility Foundation, Hadassah, Women of Weber, and Atlanta Jewish Music Festival.

The mikvah is a unique gateway to Judaism. For those who convert to, or are adopted into Judaism, immersion in this special pool of water is the act that makes them part of our people. If only I had understood that when I was listening at the top of my mother’s stairs!

We Did It Again!

charity-nav-logoCharity Navigator, America’s largest independent evaluator of charities, has just given Federation its highest rating, four stars, for the third year in a row.

  • 8,359 charities rated by Charity Navigator
  • 5% of charities have received three consecutive 4-star evaluations
  • 93.73 – Federation’s overall 2016 score and rating (out of 100)

Charitable Giving Deadline is December 31

End of Year Payment Options

As we prepare for the end of the year, we want to make sure that our donors understand all of the possible payment options. For payments over $250,
Federation will send you a tax acknowledgement by January 31, 2017.


Payments made by check are considered received by the postmark date. Checks need to be postmarked by December 31, 2016. There will be a drop box available for check payments to be deposited at the Federation after hours on Saturday, December 31, 2016. Please make checks payable to Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

Credit Cards:

IRS regulations state that credit card payments are considered received on the date shown on your credit card statement. Therefore, we encourage that all credit card payments be initiated by Friday, December 23. To pay by credit card, please go to www.jewishatlanta.org/billpay.

Questions? Contact Meryl Rose at 404.870.1628.


To donate stock, please call Cindy Weik at 404.870.1623. Stock transactions are considered complete on the date the stock is received into Federation’s brokerage account. Stock proceeds can take up to 5-7 business days from the initiation of the transfer. Therefore, we recommend you transfer stock by Friday, December 23.

Donor Advised Funds

You can use your Donor Advised Fund to make a payment to Federation and many other organizations. For more information about your Donor Advised Fund or to set up a fund, please call Cindy Weik at 404.870.1623.

Thank you for making the good we do possible!

Business and Professionals at Ponce City Market 

6ce356a4d1135bdd3ea6c522_560x404Construction cranes only tell part of the story of Atlanta’s dramatically changing landscape. Last Thursday, over 100 members of Federation’s Business & Professionals Division, hosted by Jamestown Development Group at Ponce City Market, delved into the “State of the City”. Featuring Matt Bronfman, CEO of Jamestown Properties, the developer of PCM; A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District; and Maria Saporta, founder of SaportaReport.com and columnist for the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the “State of the City” took an in depth look at how local Jewish business leaders have shaped development in Atlanta. Business & Professionals Division Director Kenny Silverboard said, “It was exciting to take a look back, and a look ahead, at what has spurred Atlanta’s growth and the role our community has played in the process.”

Affiliate Spotlight

619cffe1f6a6580889329159_560x484Atlanta Jewish Academy (AJA) is Atlanta’s oldest co-educational Jewish day school, and the only Jewish day school in Atlanta for infant through grade 12. In addition to the comprehensive Judaics curriculum and Hebrew immersion program, AJA’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program is one of a kind among Jewish schools in the region. AJA students are encouraged to be innovators, fully prepared for the future through exploration in STEM fields. AJA alumni have been accepted to top colleges and universities and 82% of Upper School students qualified for the HOPE Scholarship last year.

Read December 13 full newsletter.

December 6, 2016

agewellcaregiver-with-logoAgewell Atlanta Website
When Jewish agencies join forces to promote healthy aging, everyone wins.

Aging in Atlanta wears many faces:

  • A 62-year-old man has Parkinson’s disease. Despite the tremors, his mind is sharp. He and his wife are looking for interesting, accessible social activities because he no longer drives or plays tennis.
  • A daughter cares for her mother at home, and feels the weight of it all. She’s depressed, anxious, and worries about managing Mom’s finances.
  • A 90-year-old woman moves to a nursing home and mourns her loss of independence. Legally blind due to macular degeneration, she’s having a hard time dealing with the transition.

All of these people can now find support and resources at AgeWell Atlanta, a robust informational website that unites the aging services of Jewish Family & Career Services, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, and Jewish Home Life Communities.

Planned and funded with help from Federation, AgeWell Atlanta targets both caregivers and older adults themselves, with a goal to break down the silos between agencies that serve them.

Here in Atlanta, America’s number one most-rapidly-aging city, Jewish Atlanta has taken a digital leap forward with AgeWell Atlanta. “More than a response to illness, crisis and infirmity, this is a proactive portal, rich with information, activities and inspiration,” says Deborah Zisholtz, Director of AVIV Older Adult Services at JF&CS. “When agencies see themselves as being on the same team, everyone wins.”

Thanks For Your Help on #GivingTuesday

We’re grateful to Federation volunteers and staff who called and thanked donors for their generosity and solicited pledges for the 2017 Community Campaign on #GivingTuesday. We were part of a global day of giving that will have real impact on Jewish Atlanta.

  • $419,220 raised in one day
  • 279 donors contributed on #GivingTuesday
  • $10.58 million raised to date for the 2017 Community Campaign

PJ Our Way Launches in Atlanta
pjBuilding on the success of PJ Library Atlanta — which provides free Jewish books monthly to children ages six months to eight years — we’re super excited to announce PJ Our Way, a new book program for kids ages 9-11 who have aged out of PJ Library. Each month, PJ Our Way empowers “big kids” to select their own chapter books from an interactive online website, and even submit reviews about what they’ve read. The parent section of the site helps steer kids to great reading and allows parents to monitor their book selections. Sign up for PJ Our Way here and set your child on a creative new pathway that builds Jewish values and identity through reading.

Last Call for Alef Fund

It’s not too late!  The ALEF Fund allows any Georgia taxpayer to redirect a portion of their state income taxes to provide scholarships that make Jewish education more affordable for hundreds of families – but you must act quickly! The ALEF Fund website closes for 2017 tax credit applications on Friday, December 16. Questions? Contact Jared Novoseller, ALEF Fund Manager, 678-222-3739.

Visit www.aleffund.org to earn a tax credit for 2017 and support Jewish education!

Volunteer of the Month

Mazel tov to Lara Dorfman, who has volunteered for a number of years with Federation’s camping initiative. Lara is a non-profit consultant who brings her knowledge and understanding of camp and the Atlanta Jewish community to our mission. She grew up at URJ Camp Coleman, where she spent 10 summers as a camper and two summers as a counselor and song leader. Lara was also a song leader at Camp Barney Medintz. We thank Lara for her commitment to helping send more children to Jewish overnight camp.

Read December 6 full newsletter.

November 29, 2016

Today is #GivingTuesday

Today is the fifth annual #GivingTuesday, the day when nonprofits across the country advocate for their missions and seek donations. We love the generosity of spirit that drives #GivingTuesday, and with just 16 days remaining in Federation’s 2017 Community Campaign – 100 Days of Impact, this is a great opportunity to thank our donors and reach out to people we missed on Super Sunday. Our volunteers will be making calls from 8:30 this morning to 8:00 pm tonight. Come join us today at the Federation building.

Did You Know?

One of the many services JF&CS provides, with Federation funding, is Caregiver Support, a program of Aviv Older Adult Services. Expert clinicians can help families navigate aging and long-term care planning in a safe, supportive environment.

  • 82% of family caregivers in Metro Atlanta are female, and 42% of those caregivers aged 47-59.
  • 55% of caregivers served are “sandwiched caregivers,” providing care for both children and parents simultaneously.
  • The economic value of the care provided by unpaid caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias was estimated at $217.7 billion in 2014.

Women’s Fall Event Recap

Philanthropy mixed with fashion at our Women’s Philanthropy sell-out Fall Event, The Sole of a Philanthropist, where 300 women enjoyed dinner and remarks from Jewish philanthropist Jane Weitzman. Weitzman spearheaded philanthropy for the Stuart Weitzman company with her support for breast and ovarian cancer research and for inner city education. She is the author of Art and Sole, a dazzling collection of more than 150 fantasy art shoes displayed in the windows of Stuart Weitzman retail stores. Jane spoke powerfully about her travels across the Jewish world and drove home the message that every gift, no matter what the amount, has impact.

 Shabbat: Continuing the Conversation

Still grappling with how to move forward after this painful and divisive election season? Federation is excited to share a great new idea from The Lynn and Charles Schusterman Foundation. The Foundation hopes that people will find common ground by coming together for Shabbat dinners and constructive conversations, so they’re partnering with Repair the World, OneTable and Moishe House to make these dinners happen all across Atlanta. You can sign up to host a Shabbat dinner through the OneTable platform (which also simplifies ordering food, inviting guests and more). To be a host you must sign up by 5:00 pm ET on the prior Tuesday. To find a dinner, click here. There’s even a downloadable guide on how to engage diverse groups in constructive dialogue.

Why I Volunteer- Deborah Maslia

Volunteerism is in the Maslia family DNA. My father, Dan Maslia, always took us on delivery runs for Jewish Meals on Wheels, and to visit our aging relatives at the Jewish Home. Today, as co-chair (with Michael Axelrod) of Federation’s Aging Advisory Committee, I’m able to marry my professional work in healthcare technology with community issues I’m passionate about. Atlanta is at a critical moment in aging. Jewish Federation of North America predicts that by 2020, 25% of Atlanta’s Jews will be 65 or older. It’s a game-changer that Federation is convening the major Jewish agencies that serve our seniors, making it possible to frame big needs, meet them strategically, and leverage each organization’s strengths. I love being part of this collaborative platform for innovation around aging issues.

Read November 29 newsletter.

November 22, 2016

Eric headshotMessage from Eric

I love Thanksgiving. And this year, it couldn’t arrive sooner.

At this divisive moment in our history, how desperately we need to connect with the oneness and unity of this sacred day. We are a divided community and we need to heal. Yet we cannot call ourselves pluralistic, diverse, and tolerant if we ignore significant voices in our community and refuse to engage with them in an inclusive dialogue.

Does that mean we never make statements on issues of the day? No. It means that we’re respectful, careful, and mindful of the impact of what we say. And here’s another idea — I just learned about a beautiful new initiative here in Atlanta that uses Shabbat dinner as a platform for healing through thoughtful, constructive conversation. Find out more here.

Thanksgiving also reminds me how much I enjoy the balancing act of living in the Jewish world and the secular world. As Jewish-Americans we actually multiply our opportunities to express our gratitude and connect with each other. We just celebrated the harvest festival of Sukkot with uniquely Jewish symbols — the lulav, the etrog, and the sukkah — as thanks for G-d‘s bounty and protection in a fragile world. Later this week we’ll do the same with iconic American traditions — turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkins and football.

Similarly, how lucky we are to have two new year celebrations — Rosh Hashanah for self-reflection and gratitude; the secular New Year for a fresh start and a bit of fun. Both are important ways to solidify our commitments to community, family and self.

For me this is the perfect moment to express my thanks to all of you in our community who have given me input and wise counsel over the last 100 days. I am grateful to all who came before me as the builders of this remarkable Jewish community. I am incredibly thankful to the Federation staff, our tireless volunteers, our donors, the staff of our affiliate organizations, the leaders of our synagogues and all of you who’ve engaged me in important conversations wherever I go in Jewish Atlanta. The sheer number of hours you have spent advising me, challenging me, bringing me up to speed, and laying a foundation for my success, is humbling. One thing is crystal clear: our desire to build an even more dynamic, innovative and beloved Atlanta Jewish community hinges on collaboration. My prayer for Thanksgiving is that the new ground we plow together, and the seeds of change we plant, will yield an amazing future harvest for which our children will always be grateful.

100-days-purpleCampaign Update

Only 23 days remain in the 2017 Community Campaign – 100 Days of Impact. Here are just some of the ways your gift to Federation has impact in Atlanta and builds the Jewish future around the world. Please make your pledge today!

  • 60+ Jewish organizations are supported by Federation.
  • 236 first-time campers discovered the magic of Jewish overnight camp.
  • 2,100 seniors in Atlanta receive counseling, hospice care, housing options and rehabilitation services.

440 at-risk children from France, North Africa, Iran, India, Israel, Yemen, Eastern Europe, and South America receive shelter, education and a Jewish future at Israel’s Yemin Orde Youth Village.

Intown Mega Challah Bake Jr.challabakejr2

Nothing brings a community together like food, and the Intown Mega Challah Bake Jr. on November 13 at The Foundry at Puritan Mill proved the point. Thirteen different intown organizations and synagogues partnered on this event to help build a more collaborative Intown community. Imagine 150 adults and 200 kids, making dough and braiding challah — and then imagine the heavenly smell when all those loaves got home for baking! Everyone enjoyed craft activities and their own loaf of challah to bake at home.

Eileen Price, who helped organize the event, believes that intown Atlanta is hungry for this kind of Jewish engagement. “Mega Challah Bake Jr. provided an opportunity for us to come together in one space and celebrate our shared connection. We want the vibrant intown Jewish Atlanta population to know more about the breadth of Jewish services and organizations available to them. When organizations collaborate, our diverse Jewish population comes together and we strengthen our community.”

These organizations all participated:
Ahavath Achim Synagogue
Ahava Early Learning Center
Atlanta Jewish Music Festival
Chabad Intown
Congregation Shearith Israel
Interfaith Family/Atlanta
In the City Camp
Jewish Family and Career Services
Jewish Kids Groups
Marcus Jewish Community Center
PJ Library
Ramah Darom
The Temple

staff-potluckFederation Professionals Give Thanks 

Federation’s Staff Potluck Thanksgiving Luncheon, held on November 11, is a time-honored tradition that celebrates tastes and recipes as diverse as our staff. The Potluck transforms our break room into Atlanta’s most delicious buffet of home cooked Thanksgiving dishes. Those who keep kosher, along with those who do not, can all find something amazing to eat. With plates piled high, we enjoy the special fellowship of breaking bread together as one “work family.” In the spirit of the holiday, we thought we’d share some of the recipes, from north, south, Israel, and the Islands, that our staff prepares for this beloved American holiday.

Eleanor Ralph’s Chicken Curry

2 ½ pounds chicken cut into pieces
3 Tb. vegetable oil
3 cups water (or chicken broth)
1 potato diced
2 scallions chopped
1” piece of ginger root, minced
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, chopped
1/3 cup curry powder, divided
2 Tb. garlic powder
1 Tb. seasoned salt
1 Tb. onion powder
2 tsp. salt
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk 2 Tb. curry powder, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme leaves, allspice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add chicken and coat with curry mixture.

Heat oil and 2 Tb. curry powder in a large skillet over high heat until oil is hot and curry powder changes color, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken to the hot oil and reduce heat to medium. Add water (or chicken broth), potato, scallions, ginger and chili pepper.

Cover skillet and simmer until chicken is no longer pink and gravy is thickened, 30-40 minutes. Remove chicken to serving

Julie Baruchman’s “Better than Sex” Pumpkin Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1 tub Cool Whip (8 oz.)
1/2 bag Heath toffee and chocolate bits
1/2 jar caramel sauce (ice cream topping)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Mix cake mix with pumpkin until smooth. Do not add anything else. Spread into prepared pan and bake as directed on the box (26-32 minutes). Let cool 10 minutes.

Using the handle of a spoon, poke holes all over cake. Spread sweetened condensed milk over top of cake, guiding into holes. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Spread cool whip over cake, sprinkle Heath chocolate and toffee bits over the top and finish by drizzling the caramel over that. Keep refrigerated.

Melinda Francis’ Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz. elbow macaroni
1 package sharp cheddar like Cracker Barrel
1 package Monterey Jack cheese
1 Tb. sour cream
1 tsp. mayo (Hellman’s)
2 Tb. butter (Land O’Lakes)
2 Tb. yellow mustard
1 can of Pet Milk
1 large egg
1 cup milk, just enough cover the top, not too much

Boil the macaroni according to package instructions and drain. Grate the cheese and add to the rest of the above ingredients, stir into hot macaroni. Bake at 350, uncovered until some of the liquids evaporates and then cover until cheese melts.

Itai Tsur’s Savory Pumpkin Hummus 

1 can pumpkin puree
2 Tb. tahina paste
2-3 Tb. lemon juice
1 Tb. chopped garlic
½ tsp. cumin
1 Tb. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor (or stir by hand if you are old school) and puree until smooth. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Add water as necessary if too thick. Note: for a sweet pumpkin hummus alternative, substitute 2 -3 Tb. of honey for the garlic, exclude the lemon juice, pepper and cumin, Add pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and/or cloves) if desired.

Why I Give- Shirley Brickman

Why does Shirley Brickman give to Federation and Jewish Atlanta?

Watch to find out!

Read November 22 full newsletter.

November 15, 2016

AJMF Took Me to New and Inspiring Levels of Jewish Engagement 

ajmf-mar26-2016-13Back in 1995, when I was the drummer in a rock band called Soup, my bass player was raving about Atlanta — cheap apartments with pools and great weather! So we moved the band down south. I stayed in Atlanta, got married, and moved on to a career managing artists and touring the world with friends who eventually became my partners. Today I’m a live-music producer and entrepreneur putting artists on the Billboard charts with my company Indiehitmaker. But I’m also a dad with a strong commitment to give back to the Jewish community, as I’ve done for the past four years as a board member and, ultimately, President of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF).

My Jewish life restarted when my oldest daughter Lola was in JCC daycare. I started a project called Shabbat Rocks, performing rock versions of classic Shabbat songs around the country. That led to getting involved in the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival. Next thing you know I was on the AJMF board chairing the Marketing Committee, served as VP and just completed a two-year term as president. It was an amazing opportunity to work with passionate and creative people, evolve a non-profit brand and build my leadership skills.

I was invited to join Federation’s Jewish Leadership Institute (JLI), representing AJMF. It was the educational opportunity of a lifetime — like getting an MBA in leadership. These experiences positioned me to move ahead with my current initiative to help establish Atlanta as Georgia’s flagship production city for live and recorded music. I’m working now with industry leaders and legislators to bring more economic growth and jobs to our state through a music bill modeled after the successes we’ve seen with film.

I will always rely on music to enhance my connection to Judaism; these are the moments that define my Jewish life. I have AJMF to thank for building a deeper connection between the two.

Federation is proud to partner with Atlanta Jewish Music Festival to strengthen our community through the power of music.

Did You Know? 

foodbankFor the 26th year in a row, the Atlanta Jewish community conducted its High Holy Days food drive, collecting non-perishable food items for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Here are this year’s totals:

92,000 lbs. of food collected this year
1 million lbs. of food collected since the program began

Grapevine Expands

grapevine-2GrapeVine, the mobile app and website that gives weekly personalized recommendations for Jewish events happening across Greater Atlanta, has expanded its audience to include more than 9,000 new subscribers of all ages. A more diverse user base makes GrapeVine an even more powerful tool for individuals and for organizations wanting to publicize their events. GrapeVine analyzes your personal preferences, your age, neighborhood, interests and the organizations you want to follow. This allows GrapeVine to customize the recommendations you receive each week. Create your personal profile today and leverage GrapeVine’s powerful reach and relevance. Contact Tommy Bledsoe, GrapeVine’s Associate Director, if you have questions.

1. Log in to the website using your email.
2. Or, download the app.
3. Go to my profile and update your information.

Book It To Shabbatbook it to shabbat pj

“Jewishly inspiring!” “Fun and relaxing.” “Sign me up for next year!” Those are just some of the raves we heard at Book it to Shabbat, Federation’s third annual PJ Library weekend family retreat held at Camp Ramah Darom’s incredible facility in the North Georgia mountains. Forty families and kids, plus a sprinkling of doting grandparents, enjoyed early November’s bright sunny days and crisp evenings over a three-day retreat packed with crafts, outdoor activities and the celebration of Jewish storytelling. Highlights of the weekend included bedtime stories with PJ Library author Tami Lehman-Wilzig, a rousing Shabbat sing-along, Shabbat services for tots as well as ages 6+, a hike to Hillbilly Falls, and an activity-filled story walk. Evening babysitting made it possible for parents to enjoy social time at adults-only porch parties on Friday and Saturday nights.

As a partnership between PJ Library and Ramah Darom, Book it to Shabbat was intentionally planned to showcase both organizations. Prospective families got to tour Camp Ramah Darom, meet its director, and learn more about Jewish overnight camp options and tuition scholarship incentives. The weekend also gave families a sneak preview of PJ Library’s newest program, PJ Our Way, which allows older kids ages 9 to 11 to select and receive free Jewish chapter books at home each month. You’ll see more about PJ Our Way in the coming weeks.

Julie Sack, who chaired this year’s event, was delighted with the turnout and the spirit of the weekend. “This was our family’s second year at Book it to Shabbat and it was perfect, combining our love of nature and outdoor adventures with family-friendly Jewish experiences. While we celebrate Shabbat in our own home every week, being here with so many other families took us to a new spiritual level. After all the planning, I am sad the weekend has come and gone, but I want to spread the word and encourage more families to come join in the fun next year.”

Staff Spotlight

cindyweik2-bbCindy Weik, Federation’s Endowment Senior Associate, is rightly proud of her 30-year career in the Federation system. She came to us a decade ago after holding Federation positions in Miami and Broward County. She’s that rare and sunny person whose sole goal is making a donor’s life simple and easy. “It would ruin my day if I got a phone call that one of our donors wasn’t happy.” Cindy manages about 700 different donor funds at Federation and has become an expert on donor-advised funds and other philanthropic vehicles for giving. Our donors know that Cindy can get her hands on any piece of paper they need, and that she handles their needs with warmth and sensitivity. We are very lucky to have her!

Read November 15th full newsletter.

November 8, 2016

Sharing The Light

By Rabbi Ari Kaiman

rabbiarikaimanThe Jewish month of Cheshvan, which comes before Kislev and Hanukkah, is sometimes called Marcheshvan, which literally means “bitter Cheshvan.” Why bitter? Because the next holiday is not until Hanukkah, in Kislev. No wonder Rabbis love Cheshvan!

Cheshvan also reminds me that just last December, when I interviewed to become the next rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel, it happened to be during Hanukkah. I shared a lesson from the holiday that feels right to share here, even a month and a half before Hanukkah actually begins.

The essence of the mitzvah of the menorah is pirsumei nisa (advertising miracles). In times that are good for the Jewish people, menorahs are supposed to go in our windows – even outdoors if it’s possible.  As I understand Jewish history, there has never been a better time to be Jewish in our history.  We place large menorahs in public venues and our local officials proudly stand with us in celebration of the light of miracles.

When we light candles, sharing the light of the shamash (the candle used to light all candles) with the other candles, the light of the menorah only grows.  There is no loss of light by sharing it with others.  The light is only strengthened when it is shared.

So too for the light of the Jewish community. When we share our light with the broader community, we are strengthened, not diminished.

I’m proud to be back in Atlanta, a city filled with luminaries. In the short time since I began this past summer, I have met so many leaders doing amazing work to strengthen our community.  I’m grateful and humbled to participate in this important work.  I look forward to an incredibly bright future for all of us!

Ari Kaiman is the senior rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel


100-days-purpleThere are 37 days left in the 2017 Community Campaign 100 Days of Impact. With Super Sunday behind us, and Giving Tuesday ahead (sign-up for Giving Tuesday is still open), we continue to reach out in person, on the phone, and by mail. Here’s where we stand today:

$7 million pledged to the 2017 Community Campaign
$984,307 pledged to Federation’s 2017 Targeted Initiatives
$7.9 million contributed to the Atlanta Jewish Foundation

Help us meet our goal. Every person makes an impact!

What Happens At The General Assembly?

A delegation of 21 Jewish Atlantans, including our CEO Eric Robbins, Federation lay leaders and professionals, is headed to Washington, DC, November 13-15, to attend the annual event known as “the GA” — the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America. The GA is a mega-sized Jewish leadership conference that convenes thousands of Jewish communal change makers for three days of inspiration, networking, and education. In addition to breakout sessions, the GA also has its share of Jewish “rock star” keynote speakers including NBC’s Chuck Todd, the Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen. We’re especially proud that Atlanta will be featured in a film about our support for the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund, which has raised funds to help 212 known Atlanta-area survivors to live the remainder of their lives with security and dignity.

Israel Mission…Just For Men

Inspired by this past spring’s Women’s Mission to Israel, Federation is excited to announce a 2017 Men’s Mission to Israel (April 23-30), to be chaired by Mark Silberman and Doug Kuniansky. This unique trip will examine modern Israel from a man’s point of view, complete with opportunities for American and Israeli men to share experiences through conversation and camaraderie. What is it like for Israeli men to serve, and then send their children into the IDF? What is it like to launch a start-up business in Israel’s tech sector? How do Israel’s security concerns affect family life and peace of mind? Space on this trip will be limited. To learn more, register for our upcoming information session or contact Cheri Levitan or Susan Moray.

Affiliate Spotlight

scouts2_jafiSince 1929, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has been the foundational organization promoting aliyah (immigration) to Israel and building the modern Jewish State. JAFI still plays these roles, but in Atlanta, the focus is on building strong bridges to Israel. Atlanta is JAFI’s new Southeast regional hub, headed by Ronen Weiss. Local staff include Tamar Gez, who leads the Tzofim Israeli Scouts at the MJCCA, and Moran Shaboo, who leads efforts at Georgia Tech, Emory and UGA. JAFI assists in bringing Israeli families to the Atlanta Jewish Academy for 2-3 year stints – the parents teach and the children are AJA students. Every summer JAFI also helps provide Israeli counselors, who befriend hundreds of children, in our Jewish summer camps. As Ronen Weiss says, “Nothing can shake the bonds between Americans and Israelis when we really get to know each other!”

Read November 8 full newsletter.


November 1, 2016

Moishe House Fills My Soul

moho-1011Growing up in Houston, Judaism was an effortless part of my life. I regularly went to synagogue, was active in BBYO, attended Jewish day school and camp, and joined a Jewish fraternity, ZBT, at Emory University. But after graduating in 2013, it was kind of jolting to discover that I would need to make an effort to bring meaningful Jewish experiences back into my life.

I joined some Jewish sports leagues and went to young adult happy hours, but I wanted something deeper. When I was introduced to Moishe House in Toco Hills, I felt a strong connection to its members and mission. When I moved in, my Jewish life took off.

Our house is part of the national Moishe House network and is intended to be an informal hub of engagement for young Jewish adults. In exchange for having part of our rent subsidized by Moishe House, my three roommates and I sponsor seven Jewish events each month. It might be trivia at a local bar, neighborhood festivals, or our annual Passover Iron Chef competition at the house. Any young Jewish adult in Atlanta is invited to join.

My favorite part of living here is bringing people together and cooking with my roommates. We’re famous for our twice a month Shabbat dinners with awesome kosher home-cooked food, for up to 80 guests!  I truly believe that this age group is the “make or break” generation when it comes to Jewish identity. That’s why it is important for the post-college group to have places like this for Jewish connection and community. Moishe House makes Jewish living effortless again. It fills my soul!

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is proud to partner with Moishe House to engage and inspire Jewish young adults. 

Did You Know?

100-days-purpleSuper Sunday was, well, SUPER!

330+ volunteers came together at The Davis Academy to make calls
30+ different community organizations came out to volunteer
$360,520 was raised in just one day
750+ donors made an impact

Don’t forget, #GivingTuesday is November 29. Sign up to participate in Federation’s 8:30 am-8 pm Giving Tuesday phone-a-thon. On this global day of giving, Federation will be one of thousands of communities around the world reaching out to donors and raising funds that support our worthy missions.

nextgen-jproNextGen JPro

Atlanta is fortunate to have an unusually large number of young Jewish professionals who work with young Jews in their post-undergraduate, pre-family years. With leadership from Federation, these professionals have now formed their own group called NextGen JPro. They meet quarterly to better understand the young adult landscape and share mutual concerns. “We want to focus on the experience we are collectively providing to young adults in Atlanta and enhance it,” says Federation’s Under 40 Division Director, Shira Rothman Hahn, who convenes NextGen JPro. “By collaborating as professionals, we’re working very intentionally to create more meaningful and high-quality young adult experiences that will make young adult programming better for everyone all across Atlanta.”

JWFA Letters of Inquiry

Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta (JWFA) is a strategic grant-making, education and advocacy organization, housed here at Federation, that uses a gender lens to expand opportunities for Jewish women and girls. JWFA grants address needs such as economic empowerment, girls and youth, leadership development, violence against women, legal security, and educational advancement. JWFA is currently accepting Letters of Inquiry for its 2017 grant cycle. Please view the Request for Proposals and see the kinds of projects JWFA has previously funded. Atlanta-based pilot programs may also request multi-year funding. Apply now — Letters of Inquiry are being accepted until December 31, 2016.

Volunteer of The Month 

frank-butterfieldMazel tov to Frank Butterfield, who has served for several years on Federation’s Atlanta Jewish Foundation Advisory Board, formerly known as the Planned Giving and Endowment Committee. Frank has served on the Investment Committee and has helped lead the Balser Professional Advisors Council (BPAC) and the BPAC Giving Circle, which launched last year. In addition to his many years of service to Federation, Frank has been an active leader at Temple Sinai and with JF&CS. We thank Frank for his dedication to the Atlanta Jewish Foundation and the depth of experience he brings to it.

Read November 1 full newsletter.

October 26, 2016

Eric headshotWriting our next chapter.

It’s the end of my first three months as your CEO. I’m still in listening mode and my days are still packed with breakfasts, coffees, and meetings and conversations with community leaders. Yet I’m energized by the head nods I see when I talk about a more collaborative and less siloed Jewish community infrastructure. It’s equally exciting to learn about some of the creative grassroots Jewish initiatives that are popping up around Atlanta, with the potential to engage Jews we’ve never reached before. Did you know that Intown Atlanta now has a chapter of J-WOW (Jewish Without Walls), a volunteer-led organization that builds Jewish community across denominations and affiliations? Jewish social justice Shabbat dinners are happening around the city, and other Jewish points of connection are bubbling up, from Rosh Chodesh groups to havurahs. Combine all of this with the incredible strength and new leadership of our established organizations, and our next chapter is already being written.

Here’s what I’ve synthesized as fertile areas for change, with some hints to what could become key parts of a new Federation agenda and guiding thoughts for a vision that is emerging:

  • Changing the paradigm of how we relate with the organizations with which we work in the community to one rooted in convening, collaborating and seeking collective impact as we aim to build a stronger Jewish community.
  • Rallying our Federation team around a shared vision for community building and creating a 21st century Jewish community.
  • Cultivating new programs and spaces for broader participation in community building — like the Jewish Farm Initiative that is rooted in Jewish practice and values.
  • Investing in our Jewish professionals and lay leaders across Atlanta so they can stretch their abilities and become dynamic community leaders throughout all of our organizations.
  • Inventing new ways to engage individuals in our Jewish community and help them connect with their Jewish identity to live more meaningful lives, through innovation within existing organizations and with startups.
  • Bringing Israel closer to Atlanta through community exchanges and programs and creating safe places where we can talk about Israel as one tribe, with mutual respect.
  • Offering new opportunities for community service inside and outside the Jewish community locally and internationally. Service can be the primary way we engage the broader community.
  • Becoming the place in the community that teaches the practice of philanthropy and fosters the next generation of Jewish philanthropists.

Please share your thoughts and ideas for Jewish Atlanta’s next chapter with me: erobbins@jewishatlanta.org

100 Days of Impact-Midpoint

100-days-purpleToday marks the midpoint of our 2016 Community Campaign “100 Days of Impact”, with 50 days to go. Your early gift can have tremendous impact, allowing Federation planners and volunteers to better plan ahead to meet the critical needs of our community.  Here’s a glimpse of our success so far for this year’s Community Campaign:

  • Over $5.4 million raised
  • 1,354 gifts in the first 50 Days of Impact

20% more gifts closed in our Business & Professionals division compared to this time last year, thanks in large part to the outstanding work of our B&P chairs Valerie Habif and Shel Friedman

New Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative 

We are proud to announce that Atlanta will be one of 10 U.S. cities participating in the “Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative,” comprised of 15 national and local funders committed to learning together, sharing best practices, and investing in community-based Jewish teen initiatives. The Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative (AJTI) has been in the planning process for a year, and is the product of significant collaboration between Federation, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA), and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association (ARA).  AJTI opens the doors for exciting ways to substantially boost Jewish teen education and engagement throughout the community, and it is a shining example of how key partnerships can have a bigger collective impact than what any agency can do alone.

AJTI adopts the idea of “pathways” that provide a Jewish lens through which to explore areas of interest for teens in a time-limited, experiential way.  For example, teens who are passionate about the performing arts might spend spring break in an educational “intensive” at the Alliance Theatre or with the Atlanta Opera. They’d get immersive exposure to the arts, with distinctly Jewish content, and discover real-world insights into what drives the arts world. Teens interested in law and social justice could join a summer “intensive” where they are mentored by attorneys and activists. They would discover how Jewish values inform the most pressing social issues that face our city.

AJTI will launch for the 2017-18 school year. You’ll hear more about the initiative in the coming months as staff is hired and the experiential pathways are developed.

Super Sunday is This Sunday 

ellen-goldsteinEllen Goldstein, one of our 2017 Super Sunday co-chairs (along with Erica Gal and Renee Evans), is emphatic that volunteering for Federation isn’t just something she feels obligated to do, it’s something she truly loves to do. “I’m a 50+ year member of this Jewish community. Giving to Federation and volunteering is how I honor those who came before me and built the wonderful place that is still home to me, my husband, my daughters, my sons-in-law and my four grandsons. I love the energy at Super Sunday — it’s contagious!  We keep things exciting with drawings every hour for people who have brought in a gift by phone. There’s tremendous camaraderie as we watch the totals climb.” Join Ellen and hundreds of others this coming Sunday at The Davis Academy, 8:30 am – 7 pm. Shifts are still available

Why We Give

Why do Abby & Seth Bernstein give to Federation and Jewish Atlanta? Watch to find out!

Watch to find out!

Read October 26 full newsletter.

October 19, 2016

“I wish I could bottle the magic!”

amzn_2016-07-21_19_01_33When Rick and I learned we were moving to Atlanta from New York, we drew a circle with a 10-mile radius around the Marcus Jewish Community Center (MJCCA) and told our realtor, “This is where we need to live.” We knew that in a town where we had no family, a JCC would be vital. So on our second day in Sandy Springs, with unpacked boxes all over the house, I took Avi, then 2, and Max, then 1, to a play group at the MJCCA. We met our best friends there, and 13 years later, our kids are still friends too.

Once our daughter Noa was born, life at the MJCCA became even fuller. Noa just recently aged out of the Youth Ensemble drama program, where she loved acting in James and the Giant Peach, Annie, and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. She’ll probably jump right into the BBYO Connect program for 6th-8th graders.

Rick has played adult basketball and coached the boys’ teams. Avi and Max continue to play JCC sports and this summer had the thrill of participating in the 2016 Maccabi Games St. Louis. Both their grandfathers flew out to watch them compete.

The JCC has given our kids so many positive, immersive Jewish experiences, from the Weinstein School to Camp Alterman. But Camp Barney Medintz is the crown jewel of our membership. The 11 months leading up to camp are almost like “filler” for my kids — Barney is what they live for. At camp, my kids are their best selves. They get their first taste of being on their own, and in that one month at camp they just seem to grow by leaps and bounds. I wish I could bottle the magic!

Whenever I drive up to the JCC, I feel tremendous pride. When people come to visit us in Atlanta we always want to show off our JCC. It’s the place that has followed us through every stage of our lives and has given us an amazing Jewish lens through which we’re watching our kids grow up.

The Young Family — Michelle, Rick, Avi, Max & Noa

Did You Know? 

The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) is the international umbrella organization of the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements. Federation supports WUPJ’s work to strengthen Jewish life and values in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world that advance a progressive approach to Jewish tradition.

  • 1.8 million people belong to WUPJ congregations around the world
  • 1,200 Progressive, Reform, Liberal and Reconstructionist congregations around the world are members

50,000 families are reached through WUPJ pluralistic studies programs in Israeli public schools

Melton Class at Federation

melton-3Jewish Federation has partnered with the MJCCA’s Lisa F. Brill Institute of Jewish Learning to launch a free Florence Melton School of Adult Learning class right in our building. Since early September, a diverse group of Federation staff members, Breman Museum staff, Camp Judaea staff and community leaders have been learning together at lunchtime. The 15-week class, entitled “Rhythms of Jewish Living,” is taught by Atlanta’s Melton Director, Dr. Shelley Buxbaum. The curriculum uses texts and prayers to understand with what it means to live a life of Jewish values in rhythm with the Jewish calendar. Melton’s pluralistic learning style has been a great fit with this group.  Federation is excited to be able to offer this opportunity for staff professional and personal development.

Federation’s Julie Baruchman gives the class high marks. “Judaism is a 5,000-year-old tradition. In class we look at it across the whole span of time. It’s helping me understand why we do what we do, and that there’s no one answer to Jewish questions.” Jeremy Katz, who works at The Breman Museum, said: “The weekly classes reinforce and expand my interest and commitment to my Jewish identity and the Jewish community of Atlanta.” Nathan Brodsky loves the diversity of ages and backgrounds in the class. “Growing up in an insular Jewish world, I often hear the same opinions. The diversity of this class, and the fact that there are several non-Jews taking it opens up new insights and understandings.” Federation is pleased to bring the Melton program into our building and hopes to continue offering this important learning opportunity to more of our staff.

Super Sunday is Super

super-sunday-fb-1000There’s a reason why we call our 2017 Community Campaign phone-a-thon Super Sunday. It’s super-sized, engaging hundreds of community volunteers, and it’s a super opportunity to get involved in a way that really benefits the entire Jewish community. It’s also super fun, with free kosher food all day, and the exciting vibe of everyone pulling together to reach our goal. You won’t even miss the Falcons game because we’ll have it up on a big screen while you make calls. Volunteer slots are still open. Sign up today.

Staff Spotlight
brenda-no-susanLoyal, caring, team player — those are just some of the things people say about Brenda Hamilton, who has just celebrated 30 years of continuous employment at Federation. As our Office Services Associate, Brenda is so much more than the person who makes meetings happen in the right room, manages the mail and stocks office supplies. Brenda is part of our institutional history, going back to the days when all mail was “snail mail” and the only computer at Federation was in accounting. When making her annual gift to the Community Campaign, Brenda always shares a personal story of how Federation helped her in a time of need. Beloved by lay leaders and staff alike, she is a 30-year partner in meeting our mission.

Read October 19 full newsletter.

October 11, 2016

Our Jewish Future
By Rabbi Russ Schulkes

russ-shulkes-headshotLike so many in the Jewish organizational world, I sought out a profession that was focused on building Jewish identity. As a Jewish millennial, I wanted a career that would not only put food on the table, but would also be meaningful for me. While many of my doctor and lawyer friends add purpose to their calling through probono work and philanthropy, I wanted my profession to be focused on the good I can do for my people. With this in mind, I chose to work for Hillel and take on the challenge of engaging Jewish college students. I’d worked with pre-college students before, as a rabbi at a synagogue, and with countless Jewish non-profits, so to me it’s clear — if you want to mold and impact the future of the Jewish people, your one-stop shop is Hillel.

Hillel is solely focused on ensuring that our Jewish college students care about the Jewish people and self-identify with the Jewish people’s fate. Our mission aligns squarely with Federation’s continuity and Jewish identity goals, so we’re grateful for Federation’s support and proud to be an affiliate agency. As the outreach army to hundreds of college students in Georgia who are on their own for the first time and questioning everything, we know it requires uncommon creativity and persistence to engage 18-22-year-olds.

How do we do it? Hillels of Georgia, for example, carries out an average of 13 programs a week during the academic semester. Some of these programs are Shabbat-based; others are focused on Israel; and others are just an excuse for getting Jewish students together on campus. You see, Hillel is not a religious organization, and does not particularly care if a student believes in God or ever does another mitzvah. We care about identity. So, whatever Jewish program encourages or persuades a student to feel more a part of the Jewish people, we pour our passion and resources into that program.

Hillel as an organization enjoys two strong beliefs — first, every Jew is an important part of the future of the Jewish people. Accordingly, Hillel makes it a point to reach out at least once a semester to every Jewish student on campus of whom we are aware. Our second belief is that if a student does Jewish things while s/he’s on campus, that student is infinitely more likely to join a Jewish community upon graduation, thus guaranteeing another generation of strong Jewish communities. We are there for students when their identities are most in flux, to keep Judaism a key part of their identity. For these reasons, I do not believe there is another organization in the world that does more to ensure the Jewish people’s future.

Rabbi Russ Shulkes is Executive Director, Hillels of Georgia

Did You Know? 

100-days-purpleThere are 65 days left in our 100 Days of Impact for the 2017 Community Campaign. Campaign totals are climbing steadily, our volunteers are out in the community speaking with their friends and neighbors about Federation’s relevance and impact, and Super Sunday is just two and a half weeks away! We’re happy to report these Campaign totals to date:

$4,614,702 pledged to the 2017 Community Campaign
$904,962 pledged to Federation’s 2017 Targeted Initiatives
$6,830,000 contributed to Atlanta Jewish Foundation

Leads Fall Sign-Up

kRegistration is still open for LEADS, but the groups are filling up quickly! LEADS is a 7-week Federation Under 40 program that provides opportunities for young Jewish adults to meet new people, learn what Jewish Atlanta has to offer and find their niche in the Jewish community. Each group is determined by neighborhood and age, so participants get the unique chance to form relationships that will carry them way past LEADS. Think happy hour meets summer camp reunion meets book club. Every week, sessions are hosted at volunteers’ homes and include two Shabbat dinners and a happy hour. What are you waiting for? Register now for the fall 2016 cohort of LEADS and/or encourage those you know under 40 to sign up too! Registration will close mid-October. Questions? Contact Rachel Kosberg, 404-870-1614.

Four Generations of Donors

marx-family1Gary Marx is proud to be the third generation of a four-generation Atlanta Jewish family that has supported Federation’s Community Campaign since the 1980s. He’s the grandson of Hugh and Paula Marx — Jews who fled Germany just one week before Kristallnacht. Gary’s father Albert was just five years old when the family arrived in America and settled in Arkansas. The Marxes eventually moved to Atlanta and built a family packaging business where Gary is now CEO and his son Jeffrey heads operations. It’s a Jewish success story and a heritage Gary shares with quiet pride. “Members of my family have benefitted from Federation programs, from geriatric rehabilitation services to Birthright. Being part of the Campaign is just something I feel I have to do.”

For Jeffrey Marx, 27, the fourth generation, Federation is also a place of engagement. “My family’s history, on both sides, is the driving factor in why I support Federation. The translated German letters I’ve read about my great-grandfather coming to America have inspired me. He had to flee everything he knew and yet kept a positive outlook. Being a German-Jewish salesman in the South after World War I must have been incredibly challenging. That optimism has carried over to my grandfather Albert, another tremendous role model for me. I’ve seen the good works of Federation out in the community on mini-missions, and it inspires me to carry my family legacy forward as a donor.”

Affiliate Spotlight

gTemima – The Richard & Jean Katz High School for Girls, is Atlanta’s college preparatory high school for girls (grades 9-12). The Hebrew word temima means wholeness or completeness, and Temima’s mission is to educate “the complete Jewish woman” – addressing her intellectual, spiritual, emtional, and physical needs. The school recently won a multi-year grant from the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta for a program called FOCUS – Finding Occupations, Careers, Universities and Success. The program begins in freshman year and provides students with guidance in choosing careers and post-secondary options suited to their interests, skills, and abilities through workshops, speakers, testing, and counseling.

Read October 11 full newsletter.

October 5, 2016

JELF Changed My Life
By: Rob Rickles

cropped-jelfIn 1984, just a week after getting my letter of acceptance to Northwestern University, my father died. My finances for college became uncertain. Even with a grant and work-study package from Northwestern, there was still a big financial gap. My mom, who had taken a job as a receptionist at Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, learned about JELF (Jewish Educational Loan Fund), which is now supported by our Federation. JELF grants interest-free loans for higher education to Jewish students in need for higher education, and I sure needed one.

My JELF loan made going to Northwestern possible. I graduated in ’88 with a degree in communications, came home to Atlanta and got my first job. Like 99% of JELF recipients, I paid my loan back on time — students have eight years to repay. Incredible, right?

Years later, I volunteered for JELF and served as board president. Through this experience, I saw firsthand the variety of hardships applicants face — illness in the family, financial crises, crime, and severe disabilities.

JELF affirms the Jewish biblical requirement for interest-free lending, and in the process changes lives. JELF treats its students like family throughout the life of their loan and beyond. In my case, JELF not only positioned me for a lifetime of success, it also gave me a powerful way to come full circle and pay that generosity forward.

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is proud to partner with Jewish Educational Loan Fund in educating Jewish students to strengthen our future.

Did You Know?

The ALEF Fund is an impactful way to support Jewish education by redirecting a portion of your state tax obligation towards scholarships at Jewish day schools, preschools and high schools in Georgia, at no additional cost to you. ALEF has had tremendous impact on Jewish education in Georgia since its inception in 2008:

$20.7M raised in scholarship funds
7,641 contributors to ALEF
2,445 scholarships awarded to ALEF’s 16 participating Jewish schools

We Want to Fund Your Next Big Idea!

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is pleased to announce the fifth cycle of the Jewish Continuity Innovation Fund. We are committed to continuing to invest in Jewish start-ups, as well as existing programs in operation for five years or less. Organizations, including synagogues and Federation beneficiaries, may seek support for programs in operation for five years or less, as long as they serve the Jewish community at large and provide an opportunity for ongoing impact and follow-up. The fund seeks to support creative opportunities for Jewish continuity that address unmet or underserved needs in Atlanta. It will distribute a maximum of $30,000 in grants focusing on Jewish education, communal engagement, or leadership development. Learn more and download the full application. Fall 2016 applications are due by November 11.

jFederation Creates New Beginnings

Welcome to 5777! With Rosh Hashanah behind us and Yom Kippur ahead, we’re feeling the sweetness and optimism of new beginnings. Here are just some of the ways your generosity to the 2017 Community Campaign can create sweet new beginnings for Jews in Atlanta and around the world:

  • Connect Atlanta children to their peers in Israel through Kesher classroom exchanges, launching lifelong connections to our homeland.
  • Give Jewish families in need a fresh start, providing short-term financial assistance and job counseling for future independence.
  • Help Atlanta’s Jewish elderly settle into new assisted housing options, at the right level of care, as their needs change.
  • Give more children a chance to fully participate in Jewish life for the first time by supporting inclusion programs for people with disabilities.

Volunteer Spotlight

Women’s Philanthropy is proud to recognize the chairs of our upcoming Fall Event: “The Sole of a Philanthropist” featuring guest speaker Jane Weitzman. Nancy Galanti has participated on the Community Impact Caring Outcome Committee and is an alumna of the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Series. She recently participated in the Faces of Israel Women’s Mission. Julie Kleinman is also an alumna of the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Series, sits on the Board of Directors for JF&CS, and participated in the Women’s Philanthropy Civil Rights Journey. Charlotte Marks is a past chair of the Lion of Judah Campaign and participated in both the Faces of Israel Women’s Mission and the Civil Rights Journey. Charlotte is also a trustee of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta. Thank you, ladies, for your hard work, and we’re looking forward to an amazing event on November 16th!

Read October 5 full newsletter.

September 27, 2016

Reflections From Eric

Eric headshotOne of the many things I love about being Jewish is the inner spiritual work we are called to do during the month of Elul. This year I am doing that personal work, and leading the same process for Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. I am looking closely at our history — what we were built on and what we have become today. This process has meant doing a lot of listening to our internal team, the organizations we partner with in the community, our donors, and individuals who have never found a place to connect with us. Jewish Federation has been an integral part in building this incredible community, and yet this process has been challenging and sometimes painful because we clearly have flaws and some fractured relationships. For real change to take place, we must connect with the ways we fall short, understand them, and emerge with inspiration for what the future should look like.

Personally, as I gain firmer footing as your Chief Executive Officer and begin to live in my new role, I have also been looking inward. I feel renewed excitement about how being Jewish makes life richer, fuller, and more purposeful. I believe that Judaism offers an amazing template for living a meaningful life, and I love that it is not a prescriptive template — it is actually open and flexible. For me, being Jewish is a blueprint for living a life of community, core values and the openness to explore spiritually. Federation is the perfect vehicle for tapping into this template, offering unlimited opportunities to make the world better and invest in our community.

And finally, because Elul and the holiday of Yom Kippur is a time of forgiveness, I am asking for yours — both personally and for Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. This is a difficult job and I am still new at it. If I have missed the mark or said something upsetting or hurtful, please forgive me. If we as a Jewish Federation have failed you, or have not been there for you in the way you want us to be, we also ask for your forgiveness. For Federation to flourish in a new world, we all need to change our expectations. We will never be all things to all people, but we can be a place that welcomes all people and respects and nourishes their perspectives. My ultimate goal for 5777 is to partner with you to build a more resilient community where the next generation will always find meaning and connection.

As our tradition says, mitzvah goreret mitzvah – doing good leads to more doing good! I would take it one step further and say that building a community that allows Jews to connect more deeply with their identity can only make more good people and create more good in the world.

Did You Know?

With the High Holidays around the corner, you should know that Federation’s Community-Wide Security program (CWS) provides consulting services that help protect the entire Atlanta Jewish community. CWS helps our schools and organizations develop security action plans, and makes security recommendations for the High Holidays and other major Jewish communal events.

125,000 Jewish individuals across Metro Atlanta are protected annually
40 Jewish venues are protected over the High Holidays
60 community members currently serve on Federation’s Security Committee

#IAMJEWISHATL Community Study Update

Last week, Federation had the first preview of data from this summer’s #IamJewishATL Community Study. It is rich with insights on how people engage with Jewish Atlanta, the values they hold, and their perceived needs from a Jewish community. The results can be examined through many lenses: demographic, geographic, level of current engagement, affiliation, and more. The key take-away was this…It’s too early to reach specific conclusions because there is much more to explore and learn. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be working in collaboration with many community members and organizations to dig into and better understand the data. We look forward to sharing more as we learn more. Thank you for your overwhelmingly positive responses and participation!

Overnight Camp Scholarships 

Programs-Jewish CampingWith a goal of sending more Metro Atlanta kids to Jewish overnight camp, Federation’s One Happy Camper (OHC) incentive grants program opens this week. OHC offers incentive grants of up to $1,000 for first-time overnight campers and $500 for second-year campers. For the first time, Jewish day school students are eligible to apply. OHC incentive grants are first-come, first-served and are not based on financial need. To apply, simply complete the One Happy Camper application. Camp scholarships are also available for families who need financial assistance. Applications will be available online at the end of September. Questions: Contact our Community Camp Ambassador.

Why I Give

Why does Judy Horowitz give to Federation and the Atlanta Jewish Community?

Watch to find out!

Read September 27 full newsletter.

September 20, 2016

Frank Mission

frank-mission-day-1Right now, 14 Atlantans, selected for their leadership capacity, are in the midst of a powerful journey. As participants in the fifth annual Frank Family Leadership Mission to Israel, they’re in Poland today connecting with the legacy of the Holocaust, and soon will be in Jerusalem grappling with the complexities of modern Israel. Their mission is funded through the generosity of the Frank family, long-time Atlanta philanthropists and activists in national Jewish affairs. The mission intentionally brings together young leaders with diverse Jewish experiences and points of view. Read what they’ve been experiencing on the Frank Mission blog.

Did You Know?

100-days-purpleThanks to a legacy gift from Helen Marie Stern, of blessed memory, any woman who makes a new or renewed gift to the 2017 Community Campaign up to the Genesis level ($365) in her own name qualifies to double her impact.

Helen Marie Stern’s life exemplified what it meant to give back to others. Now her legacy lives on by continuing to impact the community she cared about so passionately. Only valid through December 31, 2016 for gifts in a woman’s name. Double your impact now.

Looking for a High Holiday Service in Atlanta?

Even if you are not affiliated with a congregation, you will be amazed by the range of worship choices in Metro Atlanta. Here are three ways to find a congregation or Jewish organization opening its doors for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services — many free of charge:

  1. This list of many services at local congregations/organizations and their High Holiday policies has been compiled by Rabbi Brian Glusman of the Marcus Jewish Community Center.
  2. GrapeVine, the electronic guide to Jewish events around town, offers a robust list of High Holiday worship options.
  3. Federation’s Community Directory has a congregations section, organized by denomination, with complete contact information.

Grinspoon Visit to Atlanta 

gJewish philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, a major funder of two of our Federation targeted impact areas — PJ Library and Jewish camping initiatives — visited Atlanta last week and shared thoughts with our leadership on what inspires his philanthropy. Grinspoon is one of an elite group of philanthropists who signed the Gates-Buffet “Giving Pledge” to donate more than half his fortune to charitable causes. To date, Mr. Grinspoon has invested about $1.6 M in PJ Library in greater Atlanta, and more than $1M in Atlanta area Jewish camping. Mr. Grinspoon said, “Some of us own boats, some own planes, some have large homes; I invest in the Jewish community.”


Staff Spotlight

carolineManaging thousands of donor records with precision and confidentiality is not an easy task, but fortunately Federation has just the right person for the job. Caroline Swan joined Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in 2014 and immediately took on the challenge of migrating our contact relationship management system to a more powerful and customized database. Not your typical “data geek,” Caroline was a dual major in English and genetics at UGA. She encourages our staff to become better “miners” of donor data by offering periodic training to improve our skills. She firmly believes, “What we learn about our donors has the potential to impact Federation goals for the next decade.”

Read September 20 full newsletter.

September 13, 2016

Reflections on a Year in Atlanta
By: David Abusch-Magder

Abusch-MagderA year into my position in Atlanta as Head of The Epstein School, I can truly say that my transition has been delightful. I feel at home here. There are many reasons for that, but three elements of Atlanta Jewish life stand out when I consider what makes this a great place to be Jewish in the 21st century: valuing of tradition, eagerness for innovation, and a focus on people and relationships. Without tradition, we lack wisdom and direction. Without innovation there is no capacity to adapt. And without a focus on the people and relationships, we have no heart.

These elements are also the core of The Epstein School, where I have the privilege of working. Like the Atlanta community, our school embraces the legacy of wisdom from both our Jewish and American traditions. We focus on the intrinsic value of each member of our community and use the relationships to create a supportive learning environment. And like the Atlanta community, we build on those relationships and support to allow our students and professionals to take risks in an environment where experimenting, and sometimes failing, is possible. That’s how we build on the past to nurture confident learners who can innovate and create the future.

It’s invigorating to be part of communities that have such strong pride in the past, while at the same time continuing to innovate for a meaningful, vibrant and connected future. We should all take pride in being part of a community that never forgets that relationships and people matter most. I am looking forward to continuing to build strong partnerships with the next generation of Jewish communal leaders across the community. With the school year well underway, I wish all of you a year filled with health, happiness, learning and innovation.

Did You Know?

PAL, a program of Jewish Family & Career Services, is Atlanta’s only Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program. With support from Federation, PAL helps families (typically single-parent homes) by offering one-on-one mentor relationships with a trusted adult, for children ages 5-17.

90% of PAL volunteers volunteer for more than one year
75% of PAL volunteers are under the age of 40
30 years since the PAL program started
43 active PAL volunteers

Weber School Students and Holocaust Survivors Celebrate Shabbat

weberLast week, at the request of Atlanta’s Holocaust survivors’ community, The Weber School, Jewish Family & Career Services, and Federation’s Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF) joined together to create a unique intergenerational Shabbat experience for Weber students. The Friday lunchtime celebration at Weber included Shabbat songs, challah, and blessings. HSSF Chair Cherie Aviv said, “It was heartwarming to see students and survivors spending time together. These connections are incredibly meaningful, especially as survivors are aging and opportunities like these are diminishing.” Learn more about the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund here.

Federation Professional Mini-Mission

On Friday, September 9, the entire staff of Federation professionals spent a day away from their desks visiting some of our affiliate agencies and partners. Russell Gottschalk, Executive Director of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF), started the day off playing “tour guide” on the bus, showcasing some of the cool Intown venues where AJMF is building community through Jewish music. The bus then headed north to the Marcus Jewish Community Center (MJCCA) for a walking tour of the campus, complete with rich human stories about how the MJCCA is a social lifeline for people of all ages and a center for Jewish engagement and culture. Finally, Rabbi Russ Schulkes of Emory Hillel educated the team on their successful outreach to more than 2,000 Jewish students with Israel programs, Shabbat dinners, and leadership opportunities…and showed us how to make our own hummus!

In between stops, professionals shared moving personal stories of what motivates them to work at Federation and support the Community Campaign. For one special day the team was treated like donors, seeing the tangible results of the work we do. You’ll be proud to know that the Atlanta Federation is one of a handful of Federations nationwide with 100% staff participation in the Community Campaign.  And after what we saw on Friday, we’re even more proud of the opportunity to contribute to such life-changing programs.

Affiliate Spotlight


The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian organization, provides food, housing and relief to Jews in more than 60 countries. Federation’s JDC investments run deep in Belarus, with a focus on saving the poorest Jews, revitalizing Jewish life and developing tomorrow’s leaders. JDC helps people like Felix Shkljar, 86, who shares his tiny home with a grown son, an alcoholic. Health problems also weigh heavily on Felix, and JDC provides him with a bank card to purchase food and medicine, plus he gets weekly help from a homecare worker for household chores. Improving Felix’s basic needs is just the start — JDC is also committed to reigniting Jewish life in Belarus.

History has dealt many cruel blows to Jews in Belarus. Felix has been able to reconnect to his Jewish roots with JDC food packages that come on Jewish holidays and by having access to a local Jewish seniors’ center. After decades under Communist rule, when the Jewish community had no access to Jewish prayer books, Felix is now able to study in both Yiddish and Hebrew at the Atlanta Federation-supported Hesed welfare center. Learn more about JDC projects supported by Federation.

Read September 13 full newsletter.

September 6, 2016

pj impact story photoPJ Library Helped Build Our Jewish Family

When you’re the daughter of a rabbi, falling in love and marrying a Gentile isn’t exactly in the script. It called for some big conversations, and I’m very lucky that Mike enthusiastically converted to Judaism and that together we’ve built a Jewish family life. Before having kids, we were active in the MJCCA’s young adult group, and we knew one day we’d send our kids to Gesher L’Torah’s preschool, but I wondered, how would we both transmit the Jewish values and traditions that were still new to Mike?

Somewhere along the way I heard about PJ Library, where every month your child receives a free Jewish book or CD. Each book comes with notes about how to share the story with your child, plus activities related to the story. It means the world to me that Mike is sharing PJ Library with our three girls.

It fills me up to see Mike and Maya, who’s now five, both get excited when a PJ Library book arrives. One of their favorites is Dear Tree, about the holiday Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees. Mike thinks it’s incredible that there’s an entire holiday devoted to taking care of the earth and thanking G-d for shade and fruit. These values really resonate with him.

Our non-Jewish friends are a little envious that Federation has this program that helps kids feel great about their heritage. And they’re totally blown away that PJ Library offers Book it to Shabbat — a weekend retreat for families at Camp Ramah Darom. We’ve gone twice with my parents, my sister, and our cousins. Our girls absolutely love it. Mike and I have yet to take them to Disneyland, but honestly, Book it to Shabbat is our Jewish magic kingdom!

The Stinsons
Leah, Michael, Maya, Ariella, and Jaina

Did You Know?

100-days-purpleToday is DAY 1 of Federation’s 2017 Annual Community Campaign100 Days of Impact. We’re excited to be underway and want to inspire you! Visit the Community Campaign online and learn how you can become an investor in our remarkable Atlanta Jewish community. See all the ways your gift to the 2017 Community Campaign has impact. Your early commitment will help us get off to a great start as we drive towards our 2017 goal of $15,700,000.

Lex & Dan Today at Federation

As Federation continues to think about Jewish innovation and change, Eric Robbins, President/CEO, and Joel Marks, Board Chair, are hosting a conversation today with Dan Libenson and Lex Rofes — two young innovators from the Institute for the Next Jewish Future. Dan and Lex have some provocative ideas about where American Judaism is headed, and they offer one perspective among the many that might be considered. We’ll keep you posted on other opportunities to engage with Jewish innovators and thought leaders.

Grapevine is Expanding!grapevine-2

With more than 26,000 users, GrapeVine provides personalized recommendations for local Jewish events through its website, mobile app, and weekly email. With support from Federation, GrapeVine is expanding its scope from young adults and young families to include Jewish events for all ages in the Greater Atlanta area. Sign up and fill out your personal profile to start receiving recommendations.

Volunteer Spotlight: Arnie Schneider

arnie-schneiderMazel tov to Arnold Schneider, a long-time donor and a master campaign solicitor for the past 14 years. Arnie is a Professor of Accounting at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, a Birthright Israel parent, and a child of Holocaust survivors. Arnie’s commitment runs deep — he’s a member of Federation’s Silver Circle honoring donors of 25 years or more. As the 2017 Community Campaign gets underway, we thank you, Arnie, for all you do for our community!

Read September 6 full newsletter.

August 30, 2016

My First 30 Days

Eric headshotI’m 30 days into my new position at Federation and I continue to be excited by my unique vantage point on Jewish Atlanta. I’m working very hard at connecting the dots. What are the dots? People, places, organizations, and ideas. My days have been filled with important conversations about change with our affiliates, partners, and with our Federation professionals and lay leaders. My biggest takeaway is that we really must learn to listen deeply to each other. Jewish life out in the larger world is not what we experience inside our buildings.

I believe that If we truly want to be inclusive, expansive and inspiring, we must communicate with passion, that being Jewish is life-changing and compelling. We need to show how Jewish values and experiences are a roadmap for doing more good in our lives.

That’s why I’ve been hyper-focused on these things:

  • Changing our language to say to everyone, “You have a place here!”
  • Encouraging collaboration between agencies and affiliates and other community innovators.
  • Seeing ourselves as the central convener for discussions on Jewish life in Atlanta.
  • Lifting up new ideas and models for our future — for example, creating a Center for Innovation in our community, and exploring new ways to use our building.
  • Setting the table for transformation as I work with the Federation board.
  • Convening a focus group on New Jewish Places — unexpected spaces in Metro Atlanta where new kinds of Jewish activities can happen.

Some very exciting things are already taking shape and I can’t wait to share them with you. As always, my door is open and my email is erobbins@jewishatlanta.org. Let me know what you’re thinking about!

Did You Know?

100-days-purpleFederation’s 2017 Annual Community Campaign — 100 Days of Impact — officially kicks off in one week! If you’re active on social media, you can make an impact by sharing photos and stories about your own engagement with Federation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to use the hashtag #100DaysImpact when you’re out and about in the community so more people can see your posts. Help spread the word about the 2017 Annual Community Campaign and drive our success!

Melton Class/Yokneam Exchange

In just two weeks, a group of eight adult learners who have been studying together for two years through the MJCCA’s Florence Melton School of Admelton womenult Jewish Learning are headed to Israel and Federation’s sister city, Yokneam, to meet their counterparts — a group of 16 adults who have followed the same Melton curriculum in tandem with Atlanta. This coming December, the Yokneam adults will come to Atlanta for a similar visit, building relationships and learning about our Jewish community.  This pilot partnership, supported by Federation, brings a new personal dimension to an already strong adult learning program.

Ashley Marx, a member of the Atlanta Melton class, is excited about possibilities for deeper connection with Israelis. “This Melton class has been a wonderful experience because it has truly focused on klal Yisrael, the whole Jewish commu
nity. I have had the chance to study Torah with Jews from all different denominations and we are there to learn together and hear each other. There is no agenda and no judgement. Having study partners in Israel who are using the same material has been a unique opportunity to learn with them virtually and hear their perspectives. I’m so thankful to have been part of this pilot class!”

A Night With the Dinos at Signature Event 

sig-eventBirthright Israel Alumni Atlanta Network and Federation’s Under 40 co-sponsored our annual end-of-summer Signature Event. After several successful years at Sweetwater Brewery, the popular event moved to a larger, cooler venue — Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s soaring Great Hall, where massive dinosaur skeletons dominate. The party also went from casual to “summer cocktail attire” for a more sophisticated vibe. Billed as “Jewish Atlanta’s premier summer blowout event of Jurassic proportion,” Signature Event attracted about 550 young adults, who had a blast and learned more about what Federation does in Atlanta.

Why I Volunteer
By: Stan Sunshine

Stan head shot150I volunteer with Federation because I believe deeply in tikkun olam, the Jewish imperative to repair the world. I once explained the concept to a group of business people in the recreational vehicle industry as “leaving the campsite better than you found it.” To me, Judaism is our people’s way of coping with the big questions: “Why are we here?” and “What should we do?” Volunteering with Federation is how I answer these questions. Right now I have the flexibility of time to share my skills as Federation’s treasurer, chair of the Finance & Administration Committee, and on the Marketing Committee. It’s an honor to do whatever I can to advance our Jewish community.

Read August 30 full newsletter.

August 23, 2016

Aha Moments!
By: Kenny Silverboard

Ben Levy, Kenny Silverboard, and Andy Siegel at Haas Promenade

I’ve taken four trips to Israel in the past 10 years, each one unique, each one inspiring. My most recent adventure on the National Campaigners’ Mission to Israel, with Andy Siegel and Ben Levy from our Atlanta Federation, was no different. From meeting Ethiopian immigrants to having discussions with more recent olim from France, Russia, Hungary and the U.S., to seeing a Haredi-job training center, this trip was full of fresh “aha” moments that will never leave me.

For me, the aha moment starts when you arrive in Jerusalem at the Haas Promenade overlooking the entire city. For people who know me, the word “speechless” usually doesn’t come to mind, but standing there taking in the panorama, a feeling of pride and connection just washes over you. A friend said it simply: “It’s in your DNA. There’s no need for words.”

On this trip I had a powerful sense of the tremendous role Federation plays to strengthen existing social services in Israel. At Susan’s House, a JDC supported social business that empowers high-risk teens by employing them in a unique art workshop, I saw young people making beautiful, contemporary jewelry, glass items and crafts so they can find work and build self-esteem. I bought all my gifts there.

It was another aha moment to visit a program where Haredi men are being retrained to join the workforce. Their yeshiva education did not prepare them to make a living in the secular world, but their ability to learn the intricacies of Torah and Talmud with precision makes them excellent coders. Now they are contributing to their families and the economy, with help from Federation.

As a Federation professional, I’ve learned that on every mission or organized trip to Israel, even the bus driver plays a starring role. Every morning I got on the bus and said, “boker tov” (“good morning”), and the bus driver replied the same. Around the fourth morning I greeted him the same way, and his response was “Boca Raton.” For me, it’s an aha moment simply to know that my Israeli bus driver is part of my extended Jewish family — he “gets” me and I “get” him.

My trip takeaways are numerous, but one that hopefully resonates with you is this: Your generous support of our Atlanta Federation enables dollars to be allocated to the most amazing programs and people. This is a mitzvah of the highest order. Is Israel perfect? No. Can we disagree about the inner workings of the country? Surely we can. Israel is a nation that at age 68 is still growing, still vibrant, and still doing its best to survive surrounded by countries that want to see its demise. Israel is your home whether you live there or not. Go see it for yourself, and find your aha moment.

Did You Know? 

did-you-knowFederation funding helps children at risk from around the world recover from displacement, crisis, and trauma at Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel.

  • 440 children from France, North Africa, Iran, India, Israel, Yemen, Eastern Europe, and South America receive shelter and attend school.
  • The village remains open 24/7 for youth with no other place to call home.
  • 20 houses provide a safe haven on the Yemin Orde campus.

New Leadership in ATL

Federation isn’t the only Jewish organization undergoing a change in leadership. This summer an unusual number of newcomers have joined the Atlanta Jewish community as clergy, school leaders and organizational leaders. We are excited to welcome them to their new positions. Learn more about who they are and what inspired and prepared them to come here to take on these new challenges.

Ronit Amihude — Principal of Learning, Teaching & Innovation, The Epstein School
Rabbi Daniel Dorsch — Senior Rabbi, Congregation Etz Chaim
Rabbi Lisa Gelber — Rabbi-in-Residence, The Epstein School
Rabbi Elimelech Gottlieb — Acting Head of School, Torah Day School of Atlanta
Rabbi Ari Kaiman — Rabbi, Congregation Shearith Israel
Shelley Kalb — Elementary School Principal, The Epstein School
Peshie Kasloff — Head of General Studies, Torah Day School of Atlanta
Rabbi Hillel Konigsburg — Associate Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Torah
Rabbi Ari Leubitz — Head of School, Atlanta Jewish Academy
Rabbi Levi Mentz — Rabbi, Chabad of Forsyth
Shira Rubin — Assistant Principal, Temima, the Richard and Jean Katz High School for Girls
Rabbi Samantha Shabman — Rabbi, Temple Sinai
Rabbi Avrohom Tkatch — Principal, Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael

Meet the 2017 Community Campaign Vice Chair-Joanne Birnbrey 

100-days-purpleJoanne Birnbrey, Federation’s 2017 Community Campaign Vice Chair, has been doing good in the Atlanta Jewish community for decades. After proving herself to be a mighty fundraiser at Greenfield Hebrew Academy, Joanne went on to blaze a new path at Federation, moving steadily up the leadership ladder in Women’s Philanthropy and ultimately becoming Vice Chair of the Annual Campaign. What keeps Joanne engaged and energized as a campaign solicitor? “It’s simple. Every time I get a ‘yes’ from a donor, I feel fantastic! To me, an increase or a new donation is like a bonus for my commitment to Federation.”

Joanne is proud to have married into the Birnbrey family, who are pillars of our Jewish community. She and husband Eddie will celebrate 33 years of marriage at the end of this month. She’s the proud mother of four children and the grandmother of Ethan, “a very happy PJ Library kid.” It’s hard-wired in Joanne’s Jewish DNA to care about the most vulnerable in our community, and for that she credits her parents, Irwin and Joel Lowenstein. “I want the next generation to continue to care about the people who really need our help. There’s no better way to do it than through Federation.”

Why I Give

Why does Ben Levy give to Federation and the Atlanta Jewish community? Watch to find out!
Watch to find out!

Read August 23 full newsletter.

August 16, 2016

“Camp is Crazy Fun! I Can’t Wait to go Back”

campMy name is Murray Marks. I’m a fifth grader in Decatur, and this summer I had the most crazy fun experience of my life at Camp Ramah Darom. This was my first time at sleepaway camp, and even though I didn’t know anybody in the bunk, we all became friends very fast. I was a little nervous, but at camp you’re always with friends. My bunk was like a team.

Every morning we’d clean up the bunk, and even that is a fun activity called nikayon – Hebrew for clean-up. On Friday, we did an extra nikayon to get ready for Shabbat. When Shabbat came, the whole camp felt special. I dressed up and wore a kippah. Before dinner we had services and sang in Hebrew at the top or our lungs. Then there was the most delicious matzah ball soup at dinner. And more singing!

One of my favorite activities at camp was the climbing wall, where you have to trust the people who are holding onto your ropes. We really did trust each other, because I made it all the way up and down!

With so much stuff going on, there was no time to be homesick. My parents were okay with that because they were so glad I loved camp as much as they did.

Murray’s parents, Amanda and Aaron, are grateful for the scholarship assistance they received through Federation’s One Happy Camper program. “Aaron and I met on JDate because our profiles talked about Jewish camp. Ramah has given Murray a great sense of independence and exposure to Jewish ritual. We call it ‘Bar Mitzvah Boot Camp.’ As soon as they’re old enough we want to send Oscar and Ruby, Murray’s younger twin siblings, to Camp Ramah Darom.”

Did You Know?

Thanks to Federation funding, there are 10 Learning Resources Specialists (LRS) providing individual classroom support to children with special needs around Atlanta. Currently there are seven LRSs serving in Jewish supplementary schools and three in Jewish preschools.  

Meet the 2017 Annual Community Campaign Chair- Mark Silberman

100-days-purpleAs Federation’s 2017 Annual Community Campaign Chair, Mark Silberman knows he has a lot on his plate, but he’s more than ready. For the next four months, he’ll be scheduling three face-to-face meetings a day with potential donors, building relationships and doing all he can to inspire generosity. “My mantra is that donors are investors in the entire Jewish community. As an entrepreneur myself, I try to build consensus for change. I’m excited by our new CEO’s vision to tell our story and make Federation more relevant in the wider community.”

Mark and his wife Linda came to Atlanta from New York 25 years ago. He served as  Board Chair of Camp Coleman, and later answered Susan Moray’s request to be a campaign solicitor. With all four children and four grandchildren currently living in metro Atlanta, he has every reason to be invested in the campaign’s success. “The Annual Campaign is the locomotive engine that drives our entire community.”

ALEF Fund Website Open for 2017

It’s time to apply for your 2017 ALEF Fund tax credit. The ALEF Fund allows any Georgia taxpayer to support Jewish education by redirecting a portion of their state taxes to become scholarships at 16 Jewish day schools and preschools. Apply online and support Jewish education at virtually no cost to you!

Staff Spotlight

beth2Beth A. Warner, our new Women’s Philanthropy Director, arrived at Federation on August 1, and she’s off to a tremendous start. Beth comes to us from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, where she was the Major Gifts Officer managing a portfolio of high-net-worth donors and prospects.

“I am honored and grateful that Federation has given me the opportunity to join their team. Women’s Philanthropy is an integral part of the Annual Campaign and provides direct connections between Jewish women and the causes we serve. Women’s Philanthropy helps empower women to fulfill their own philanthropic visions, and I look forward to working alongside the many community-minded and influential Jewish women of Federation.”

Beth’s Atlanta Jewish community connections are deep and strong. She is a proud Jewish day school parent; daughter Sloane is a tenth grader at The Weber School, and daughter Alexa is a seventh grader at The Davis Academy. Beth is a former trustee of the Davis Academy board of directors where she served on the facilities audit and development sub committees. Active at Temple Emanu-El, Beth completed her synagogue’s Darchei Sarim Leadership Program and represented The Davis Academy in the 2015 cohort of Federation’s Jewish Leadership Institute (JLI).

Read August 16 full newsletter.

August 9, 2016

Unity: An Operating Principle
By Faye Dresner, Chief Program Officer, JF&CS

I worked in the Jewish community in the late 1990s until the mid-2000s, and recently returned as Chief Program Officer at Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS). I was pleased to find that a fresh approach has evolved since I was last a Jewish communal professional. The conversation at the agency is all about impact. How do we create even more meaningful change with fewer resources? What is the secret ingredient to success? Unity as an operating principle.

The unity of the Jewish people has been debated, discussed, and analyzed throughout time, and recently I’ve found myself thinking about it again. With Jews in mind, I looked “unity” up in the dictionary: “The state of being united or joined as a whole.” Check. “The quality or state of not being multiple.” Maybe. “A situation in which people, groups, or countries join together or agree about something.” Not so much. “A condition of harmony.” Nope, not really. “The state of being complete and having all the separate parts connected.” Surprisingly, for the Atlanta institutional Jewish community, yes!

Sounds simple, right? Then why is it that the more we have in common the harder it seems to unify? Because we think that if we collaborate, if we partner, if we compromise, that somehow our fundamental uniqueness may get lost. We forget the ancient wisdom of Aristotle that “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Since my return less than a year ago to Jewish communal professional work, I’ve been struck by the significant collaborations that are happening among Atlanta’s Jewish institutions. JF&CS is working with Jewish Home Life Communities (JHLC), Federation, and the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) on a partnership to seamlessly serve older adults. The agency also transitioned our Legacy Home Care business to JHLC, who is referring their geriatric care management business to us. JF&CS is partnering with the MJCCA to provide a vocational component to its Transitions program. And these are just a few of the collaborations happening communally.

For me, having our institutions, organizations, and synagogues connected, bringing our resources to bear together to serve community members, and watching leaders set aside individual agendas for the greater good is inspiring and refreshing at a point in time when divisiveness seems to be rampant. Maybe Jewish unity can propel us all to a better future.

Did You Know?

cBecause of Federation funding, 200 young adults enjoyed free Shabbat dinners since January 2016 through the sold-out Shabbat at the Park series sponsored by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

Thank You for Your Feedback

iamThe #IamJewishATL Community Study was conducted during the month of June. This pioneering market research study is a collaborative effort funded by Federation on behalf of all Jewish organizations in Metro Atlanta, including synagogues, schools, and agencies. While the goal was 2,500 respondents, 3,473 people responded to #IamJewishATL. Data is currently being analyzed and will yield critical information on what people are looking for in Jewish Atlanta. Results will be shared with community organizations in the fall to help shape initiatives for the next decade.

“I Love My Donor-Advised Fund”

For Evi Resnick, setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF) at Federation has been a smart way to take control of her philanthropic investments. A DAF is a charitable vehicle that enables your contributions to grow in value, tax-free. You can strategically decide when to contribute to the fund and receive an immediate tax benefit while choosing the time when it is most convenient for you to advise when grants from the fund should be made to causes you support. “Our giving has more impact through our donor-advised fund. The fund grows in value and helps us consolidate gifts to charities outside of Federation. At the end of the year we get one letter from Federation summarizing all the donations. It’s terrific.”

Affiliate Spotlight 

aThe Breman, Atlanta’s Jewish Heritage Museum, is a community treasure with special exhibitions for children and a permanent exhibition on Southern Jewish history and the Holocaust. If you haven’t visited lately or if you have guests coming to town, don’t miss Eighteen Artifacts: A Story of Jewish Atlanta. The exhibition explores the history of Jews in Atlanta through artifacts, images, and oral histories. Jewish Atlanta’s story began like many other Southern towns but took dramatic turns as Atlanta became a stage for regional, national, and international events over the next 170 years.

Read August 9 full newsletter.

August 2, 2016

Doing Things Differently

Yesterday was CEO Eric Robbins’ first day at Federation and the launch of our new website. Today marks another milestone. We’re proud to launch this new weekly newsletter, FederationFive. With just five stories each issue, it’s a shorter and more relevant read, giving you the information on Federation and the wider community that you won’t want to miss. Now you can also tell us exactly what information you’re interested in receiving from Federation by clicking “Manage your preferences” in the footer of this email.

Did You Know? 

With the help of Federation funding, Hillels of Georgia has been able to connect with ~3,200 of the ~5,000 Jewish undergraduates at Georgia’s colleges and universities!

  • 3,000 Shabbat meals served each year
  • 800 students attending Hillel’s High Holiday services
  • 120 Israel programs annually

Birthright Israel: “I Honestly Didn’t Want to Leave.”

western-wall-atl-300x265When 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. Registration for 2017 Birthright Israel trips begins in early September. Find Atlanta trip information here.

New to Atlanta? 

If you’re new to Atlanta and looking for friends and Jewish connections, one of the best places to start is Federation. The skills and life experiences you bring to Atlanta can find a home here, no matter what your age or interest. Federation offers meaningful opportunities to meet new people, volunteer, and connect with like-minded community members. Attend a networking event, join a committee, or help us raise funds through the Annual Community Campaign. Federation’s professional staff is eager to hear from you and help you get connected!

Volunteer Spotlight 

clMazel tov to Claire D’Agostino, who served on the Former Soviet Union Outcomes Committee, and then transitioned to the Jewish Continuity Committee, evaluating Minsk continuity programs. Claire also serves on the Birthright Israel Leadership Council and is a member of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. Thank you, Claire, for your insights and leadership!

Read August 2 full newsletter.

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