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Fed5: Celebrating $37M in Community Impact & Introducing Our New CEO!

By July 5, 2024July 9th, 2024Federation News

Drum roll, please…

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s FY24 Community Campaign is allocating $37,659,558 in community impact! 

As we close the books on FY2024, we are filled with immense gratitude and pride. This past year has been a testament to the power of our community’s generosity, resilience, and shared vision to strengthen Jewish ATL, Israel, and Jewish communities around the world. We extend our heartfelt thanks to our donors for your unwavering support and dedication during a year of immense heartbreak, triumph, and unity.

Your contributions have enabled us to achieve remarkable milestones. Through your generosity, we have expanded our programs, raised $12.5 million for Israel via our Israel Emergency Campaign, reached more individuals and families in need, and strengthened our community bonds.

Highlights of our achievements this year include: 

  • Enhanced Services: With your support, we have been able to introduce new services and improve existing ones, ensuring that our community members receive the assistance, security, and care they deserve. This includes $1.1 million in security funding for infrastructure and personnel across the community.
  • Community Outreach:  Our outreach programs have touched the lives of countless individuals, fostering a sense of belonging and support within the community. This includes $1.2 million in funding for programs that serve young adults, interfaith families, and Federation’s Gather Grants initiative.
  • Education and Empowerment:  We have invested in educational initiatives that empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive. This includes over $2.1 million in direct funding to schools, educator professional development, and development of innovative curricula.
  • Standing Strong with Israel: One of the most significant endeavors of this past year was our Israel Emergency Campaign (IEC)  which was launched immediately after October 7th. IEC raised $12.5 million for Israel to address both immediate and long-term needs on the ground.

Highlights of the Israel Emergency Campaign include: 

  • Rapid Response: Thanks to your quick and generous donations, we were able to mobilize resources swiftly, providing critical aid to those affected by the emergency.
  • Sustainable Support: Beyond immediate relief, your contributions have helped lay the groundwork for long-term recovery and resilience in affected communities.
  • Global Solidarity: This campaign has not only supported those in need but also reinforced the bond of solidarity within our global community, demonstrating that we stand together in times of crisis.

(To learn more about our work in Israel since October 7, please visit our Israel Emergency Campaign Impact Report here.)

As we reflect on our past successes, we are also looking forward to the future with renewed determination and optimism. Together, we will continue to build on our achievements, address new challenges, and create a brighter future for all.

Thank you for making the Fiscal Year 2024 a resounding success. Your contributions have made a profound impact, and we are deeply grateful for your partnership. Here’s to another year of growth, resilience, and strength as a united Jewish ATL.

We are so thrilled to welcome David Fisher as our new Interim CEO at Federation! David has spent almost all of his adult life volunteering in the Jewish community alongside his professional endeavors and is now excited to join our team.  

Originally from Cincinnati, David grew up at Jewish summer camp in northern Wisconsin, which he later owned. In 1986, as he was entering his senior year of college, he and his brothers were approached by the camp owners and asked if they’d be interested in buying the camp, as they were ready to retire. They decided to buy it, and David ran the camp for the next six summers.

He became involved in the Jewish Federation of North America’s (JFNA) Young Leadership Cabinet and co-chaired the initiative with a fellow Atlantan in early 2003. He then became the National Campaign Chair for JFNA in 2007. 

In 2011 after many years of volunteering in the Jewish community, he was selected to become the CEO of the Birthright Israel Foundation. A few years later, in 2015, he and his wife, Stacy, moved to Atlanta, where they’ve been ever since. 

As for his vision for the next fiscal year, David feels there is so much opportunity in Federation and Jewish ATL. Since October 7, David describes the notion of “October 8 Jews” – Jews who now have a renewed interest in Jewish life here in Atlanta, causing an increased demand and need for Federation’s programming, services, and community leadership. 

“There is a lot of opportunity for greater engagement here at Federation. It’s going to require more resources, and I think there’s energy to do that,” said David. “We need to do a better job of educating people on what we do and why it’s so important to continue to invest in the community, because there’s so much opportunity that people want to take advantage of today.” 

Welcome to the Federation team, David! 

Jewish Georgians facing a crisis have a place to turn to for financial support in their own community: the Jewish Interest-Free Loan Association (JIFLA). 

Federation and the Atlanta Jewish Foundation are proud to partner with JIFLA, where Donor-Advised Fund fund-holders can become anonymous guarantors for loans and help the organization stretch their dollars 4:1, meaning that for every $10,000 guaranteed, JIFLA can give out loans for $40,000.

The funds stay in the Donor-Advised Funds, and thanks to JIFLA’s repayment rate of over 99%, there is minimal risk of default. Whether it is medical bills, job loss, emergency home repairs, or other major life expenses, JIFLA offers comprehensive financial support, financial education, and budget counseling, bringing peace of mind, opportunity, and hope to those in need.  

“We were in a very vulnerable moment in our lives and did not know who to turn to. When you feel alone in the world financially when you are struggling, things go through your head that probably shouldn’t,” said a recent loan recipient. “To be given a chance and being heard and not being charged astronomical fees is huge. We can never thank JIFLA enough for the mitzvah you are granting by putting your money somewhere that helps everyday people feel like they have a chance at living again and some breathing room.” 

Another recent JIFLA borrower was a single woman in our community who faced significant health challenges. She shared her story with Federation: “I got cancer, had a year of surgeries and treatment, and just as I was ready to go back full-time, the company I worked for lost their biggest client, and I was out of work and lost my health insurance. I was completely at a loss, with no money and little hope. I was close to being on the street. I cannot tell you how grateful I am and how much all you do makes a difference.” 

“With the support of our amazing partners at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, these [counseling and advisory] sessions are free for those interested and are designed to help anyone reach their financial goals,” said Nancy Weissmann, JIFLA’s Executive Director. “We continue to be committed to the health and prosperity of Jewish Atlantans and will always look for new ways to best help our community and support financial stability for all.” JIFLA is looking for donors and hopes to start an endowment fund soon. These donations are making a huge impact on our community. If interested, head to their website here.

The Bremen and the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University recently teamed up to bring a group of Georgia teachers from 14 counties on a four-day trip to New York for their first annual Teacher Ambassador Program. The purpose of this initiative is to create more invested, competent, expert teachers in Holocaust education so they can better share this knowledge with their students in their local schools. 

“It was an incredible honor to be a teacher ambassador, come together with a like-minded group of educators, and work with KSU and the Breman. They have a remarkable partnership that truly makes an impact in Holocaust education across Georgia,” said Holly Salazar, a teacher from Forsyth County. “The Federation’s Innovation Initiative was generous enough to help us fulfill the vision of helping Georgia-based teachers become deeply invested in Holocaust education and then share that passion with others,” said Rabbi Joseph Prass, Director of The Breman’s Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education. 

Some highlights from the mid-June trip were visits to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. “My experience with working with The Breman Museum and KSU has been phenomenal! I could not promote this educational program more,” said one teacher from Butts County who participated, Calie Bates. “The wealth of knowledge learned on this trip and through this program has helped to introduce me, hook me, and motivate me to continue learning about antisemitism in America and abroad.” 

Federation’s investment in Holocaust education for teachers is well worth it. Andrea Miskewicz, the Interim Executive Director of the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University, surveyed 25 of their teacher partners, and 96% said they spend more time on the topic after traveling because they are inspired and have a deeper knowledge base.

“The funding from Federation has inspired teachers to spend significantly more time in Holocaust education and Jewish life and culture.” Andrea said. “As an educator, this was a highlight of my career, and I know the teachers feel the same way.”

Andrea and Rabbi Prass are already planning for subsequent cohorts. They are going international with the next one with plans to visit Munich, Dachau, Nuremberg, and more. 

“We are so grateful to Federation for being supportive of this because it really is making a significant impact,” said Andrea. “It’s just amazing and and we’re so thankful.”

Through Federation’s national partnership with Secure Community Network (SCN), the Federation Community-Wide Security Program works to enhance the safety and security of the Greater Atlanta Jewish community. Recently, two security events took place to foster a culture of empowerment, collaboration, and vigilance, ensuring that all Jewish organizations operate safely and securely. 

The first was on June 24 for Major’s Night Out, an opportunity for Toco Hills residents to meet their Precinct Commander, Major E. McCown, and share their concerns and thoughts about safety and crime in the Toco Hills community. Federation’s Community Security Director (CSD) Brian Davis accompanied him as he visited local businesses to discuss security issues, concerns, and solutions for local store owners. The Major, knowing the Toco Hills area had a large centralized orthodox Jewish community, asked Brian to join him. 

Prior to that, on June 17, Brian presented at the Chabad Rabbis Conference to share crucial insights and resources dedicated to ensuring the safety of their community.

Brian discussed current safety concerns facing the community, emphasizing the support provided by the Jewish Federation and the Secure Community Network. He outlined various training programs designed to empower individuals, including Situational Awareness, Countering Active Threat, and Stop the Bleed.

Each training is aimed to equip community members with the skills needed to respond effectively in emergencies. He spoke about comprehensive threats, vulnerability, and risk assessments offered to all community partners and organizations. Brian also highlighted the personalized consultations available to organizations, ensuring they received the best practice security recommendations tailored to their specific needs. 

“It is imperative for our community to actively participate in our security training events. By doing so, we can collectively empower our facilities, staff, and congregants with the critical knowledge and skills necessary to safeguard what matters most to us,” said Brian. “These training sessions are designed not only to enhance our preparedness but also to foster a sense of unity and resilience. Together, we can create a safer and more secure environment for everyone.” 

The session ended on a note of solidarity and proactive engagement, as the rabbis left with a renewed sense of purpose and the assurance that they were not alone in their mission to safeguard their community. 

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