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FederationFive – our weekly newsletter of the top five things going on in Jewish Atlanta
I love the teaching that when we banish leavened foods from our lives for the eight days of Passover, and eat the flat, unleavened bread known as matzah, we are also banishing ego. If puffed-up yeast breads, cookies and cakes represent ego and self-aggrandizement, then matzah represents humility. Hasidic rabbis go on to say that matzah, the poor bread, made of only flour and water, renews our faith and opens us to self-improvement. It’s a tremendous lesson for individuals, and for big organizations like Federation.
For months I’ve talked to you about transforming the way Federation does business in our community, and now I’m excited to report that we are actualizing that promise. We are launching a process for change that rests on the idea of moving Federation from an egosystem focused mainly on its own well being, to an ecosystem that emphasizes the well-being of the whole community. With this mindset, all our Jewish organizations and programs are stakeholders, bound and committed to each other.
Going from egosystem to ecosystem, is a major shift in consciousness, so I’d like to tell you more about how we plan to do it. I also want to underscore that this is not a typical organizational strategic planning exercise. This is a bold and daring process that will require us to look collaboratively, rigorously, and courageously at the hard truths of our community and our leadership — as well as the seeds of possibility. This is a journey of coming together, slowing down, connecting, and really listening to each other. Together, we will discern the best use of Federation to create the conditions where Jewish Atlanta can flourish.
Our process builds from our 2016 Community Study which has been a rich source of learning. We’ll be organizing ourselves around three tracks, each with a different, but equally important purpose. Each track will engage a different cohort of lay and professional leaders, community members, and Federation staff, agencies and partners. The tracks are:
Track #1: Co-Creating an Innovation “Hub” or Holding Space for Next Generation Jewish Social Entrepreneurship
Working with young Jews and other innovators who are inventing new ways to embrace Jewish values and engage Jewish populations. The focus will be on supporting the culture of entrepreneurial Jewish energy and creating pathways for future leadership.
Track #2: Forming a Collective Impact Partnership with Bedrock Jewish Organizations & Activating Civic Networks
Bringing together our key agencies and creating a common agenda we all stand behind, that realigns us through the lens of “collective impact.” Using network thinking to identify and activate existing Jewish networks in Atlanta to reach out to more than 100,000 affiliated and non-affiliated Jews.
Track #3: Transforming Federation as an Institution
Supporting all the tracks above, and re-imagining its traditional functions and alignment with Jewish communities around the world, guided by a realistic understanding of the world in which we find ourselves.
A superb team of consultants from Insyte Partners, a Philadelphia based firm, has helped shape this process. I’ve worked with them at Camp Twin Lakes, and they’ve also done work with Atlanta Speech School and Sheltering Arms in Atlanta, along with clients both Jewish and non-Jewish nationwide. Jodi Mansbach, our Chief Impact Officer, will also be steering this initiative and assembling the teams that will drive institutional change. We are looking to assemble a diverse group of people who are willing to make a big commitment and participate in this effort.
I will continue to update you on this important work that promises to transform Federation and our larger community.
Did You Know?
The One Group, a service of Jewish Home Life Communities, provides professional in-home assistance for patients and family members for medical and non-medical care.
• Caregivers available 365 days a year, including all holidays
• One-on-one care provided by certified nursing assistants (CNA), registered nurses (RN), or licensed practical nurses (LPN)
• Coverage across Metro Atlanta
Bagels & Baseball Knocks it out of the Park
What do you get when you invite Federation’s Business & Professionals for a sneak peek at SunTrust Park, the new Braves stadium? You get a sellout! This popular event, held on April 24, brought 125 financial services and real estate professionals together to hear Marc Pollack, Chairman & CEO of Pollack Shores Real Estate Group, LLC; Josh Hirsh, Senior Managing Director of Jones Lang LaSalle; and Mike Plant, President of Development for the Atlanta Braves, talk about the mixed-use master plan for the ballpark and surrounding area. “The panel provided a simplified look at the business side of a seemingly complex deal,” said Harold Schumacher, moderator, and one of four co-chairs of the event. “Most importantly, there were a lot of new faces.” The other event co-chairs were Greg Eisenman, Ryan Halpern and John Perlman.
Atlanta Jewish History at your Fingertips
Whether you’re a recent transplant to Atlanta, a lifelong resident, or simply interested in showing guests some local history, the Breman Museum’s Historic Jewish Atlanta app puts more than a century of history right on your smart phone. Developed by Breman staff and Bar-Z Adventures, the app connects you to articles on historic Jewish Atlanta and Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement. By clicking “Sites Near Me” you can view a map pinpointing unique historic sites and get GPS directions. It’s a cool way to connect with Jewish history wherever you are in Atlanta. Download the free app for phone or tablet from the App Store or Google Play Store.
Why I Give
Why does Beth Brown give to Federation? Watch to find out!
Throughout India we were impressed by the power of community
By Justin Milrad & Lauren Abes
When we learned that Jewish Federation of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet would be taking its annual Study Mission to India, honoring 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, we jumped at the chance to represent Atlanta. Our first impression of India was stunning — there’s virtually no anti-Semitism! India is a diverse and crowded nation where 1.2 billion Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, and roughly 5,000 Jews, get along. What sustains this 2,000-year-old Indian Jewish community that is losing population? We were moved to learn that it is their connection to Israel.
The tiny Indian Jewish community, known as Bene Israel, ties its ancestry to one of the Lost Tribes of Israel and is centered today in Mumbai and Delhi. We spent Shabbat at the Judah Hyam Synagogue in Delhi, which does not have a rabbi, so services were led by young Indian Jews who traveled from Mumbai. Singing Ashrei together, our melodies were different, but we still felt like one people.
The poverty in India took our breath away. Families and individuals look out for each other and somehow the slum ecosystem works. India’s Jews also rely on the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) for community and infrastructure. We saw this in Mumbai where a JDC community center provides elder care visits, Meals on Wheels, bar and bat mitzvah training, and a venue for Jewish holiday celebrations. JAFI has helped resettle Indian Jews in Israel, where the Indian-Jewish population now exceeds 70,000. Just before our mission 102 Indian Jews made aliyah (emigration to Israel).
For those Jews who remain, Israel is a source of inspiration. Young Indian Jews connect with Israel through Birthright Israel, Masa, and other study opportunities. The trip reinforced so many core Jewish values and taught us that, through the work of Federation’s overseas partners, we are having real impact in India.
Did You Know?
Being a caregiver can be tougher than most “desk” jobs. Jewish Family & Career Services aids caregivers in many ways, including support groups and one-time financial assistance for caregivers in crisis. Last year, JF&CS served 117 family caregivers through geriatric care management and caregiver support.
• 34 million caregivers nationwide provide care to someone age 18 or older
• 82% care for one person, typically 20 hours a week
• 37% of caregivers for someone aged 50+ reduce their work hours or quit their job
A Very Special Seder
For 21 consecutive years, Congregation Shearith Israel has hosted a free-of-charge special seder for individuals with special needs. This incredible act of chesed and devotion has been spearheaded by Arlene and Harold Koslow, Rachael and Jack Rosenberg, and an army of volunteers. Arlene works the “back of the house,” the Shearith Israel kitchen, where a five-course meal is prepared, from matza ball soup to charoset. Rachael works the front end, preparing table settings and greeting guests. This year they fed nearly 100 people, including caregivers and family members of adults with disabilities. “It’s such a joy to do this. We know that the seder not only reinforces Jewish identity, but over the years it has also taught our community that inclusion is vital.”
Larry Frank to Be Honored With Lifetime of Achievement Award
We are delighted to announce that Larry Frank will be honored as the recipient of Federation’s 2016 Lifetime of Achievement Award, Wednesday, June 7, at Ahavath Achim Synagogue. Larry is a beloved native son of Atlanta and former Grady High School football star who has supported social justice and Israel both publicly and anonymously for decades. Larry has devoted his life to ensuring that younger generations develop a strong bond with the state of Israel. For the last four years, in partnership with Federation, Larry and his wife, Lois, have created and funded immersive programs that send emerging young leaders to Poland and Israel, along with sports programs for Israelis with developmental disabilities. Save the date and join us to honor this very special philanthropist.
Learn how Susan Moray, our VP of Philanthropic Advancement, was inspired to walk in her grandfather’s footsteps.
By Kim Sucan, Director, The Weinstein School of MJCCA
Would your ideal work day include spending hours with preschoolers? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. As the Director of MJCCA Preschools, my job is truly a labor of love. Every day I get to watch our children embark on their Jewish journeys.
Our preschools teach many life lessons, and we cultivate each child’s social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth, all while nurturing and loving them. Every Friday, each class gathers to celebrate Shabbat, lighting the candles and singing the prayers. Children’s faces light up every Simchat Torah as they are presented with their own Israeli Flag. At Rosh Hashanah, there is nothing sweeter than our preschoolers sharing apples and honey. Now, as we prepare to gather with family and friends for Passover, our children have done the same at school. It is magical to watch as our preschoolers develop a deep appreciation and pride in their Jewish identity.
Our preschool families are part of the Jewish journey, too. It’s the mission of the MJCCA to offer multiple Jewish points of entry, and we view our preschools as a vital one. There is a special energy and light from watching parents join their children at Shabbat Sing every Friday and raise their voices together in song and prayer. Families form bonds and relationships with each other that exist long after their children graduate from preschool. Families gather to celebrate Jewish holidays, go on annual campouts, and grow up together at the MJCCA as they explore and experience MJCCA day camps, youth sports leagues, Camp Barney Medintz, and so much more.
The Jewish sparks that begin in preschool help the MJCCA become a second home for the entire family. I am proud to be a part of a preschool and an agency that is always a safe, welcoming, inclusive, and diverse environment for everyone in our community. I begin every day knowing our preschool is an integral part of so many children beginning their Jewish journey and living a life of Jewish values.
Did You Know?
When children struggle socially or have difficulty in school, Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) offers psychoeducational assessments to help parents and teachers gain important insights. JF&CS psychologists can conduct individualized and comprehensive evaluations that integrate information from parents, teachers and testing data. Classroom observations are also available.
• Ages 4 years and up
• Two sessions of 4 to 4.5 hours
• Three clinicians on staff
Passover, Sephardi Style
Why do some people say they’re “Sephardic” for Passover? Possibly because unlike Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, Sephardic Jews are permitted to eat kitniyot (rice, corn, grains and legumes) during Passover. Atlanta has one of the largest Sephardic communities in America, and its historic center is Congregation Or VeShalom, where many congregants trace their roots to Turkey and Greece. Adam Kofinas, Or VeShalom’s current executive director, comes from a mixed Ashkenazi/Greek background. For Passover he grew up eating matzah ball soup, but also keftes de prassa, a Greek pancake made of leeks, onions, and scallions, and megina, a Passover meat pie. Adam has kindly shared some of these Sephardi Passover recipes with us from his own family as well as from Or VeShalom’s Sephardic cookbook. Enjoy!
Ben-Gurion Society Honors Young Adult Philanthropists
The Ben-Gurion Society (BGS) recognizes young adults who make a significant contribution to Federation for their commitment to community leadership. BGS members gathered last week to hear Lisa Friedman Clark’s inspiring story of overcoming obstacles like illness, career hurdles, and personal loss. Clark called her ability to rebound, remain optimistic and stay engaged in her Jewish community, “dancing between the raindrops.” It was a very relevant message for this group of under 40 future leaders to hear. Jennifer Weber, event co-chair, said, “For all of life’s hurdles, Lisa remains optimistic and keeps a smile on her face. She’s been through it all – cancer, death, career challenges – and Federation has always been there with her. Very inspiring!”
The Epstein School takes a student-centered approach to education, providing students with the tools they need to be successful in their educational journey and in life. With an innovative, 21st-century learning environment and unique dual-language program, combined with integration of advanced technology, creative arts and athletics programs, Epstein students have a well-rounded experience. In partnership with parents, the school helps develop students’ passions and prepares them to become confident, engaged learners, critical thinkers and committed community leaders who are grounded in the values of our heritage.
“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.”
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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.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.