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A Word from our New Director

By JumpSpark

JumpSpark is pleased to announce Nathan Brodsky will lead JumpSpark as our new Director.

As a kid growing up in Sarasota, Florida, I often looked at the copy of The Jewish Book of Why that was prominently displayed in the living room, and I learned at the young age about the importance of asking questions. Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso says, “At the heart of what it means to be a Jew is to ask questions.” I love connecting with new people by asking open ended questions to learn about their lives.

I am honored to start my new role as Director of JumpSpark, and I plan to often reference the Jewish value of asking questions. Through this, I plan to deepen my understanding of the Atlanta Jewish teen ecosystem, learn about how teens and their parents connect to Israel, and encourage creative problem solving.  While we further and sustain JumpSpark’s impact, I look forward to the many questions time will bring and discovering the answers along the way.


Nathan Brodsky
Director of JumpSpark


Nathan Brodsky is thrilled to bring his passions for teen engagement and Israel experiences to JumpSpark as the new Director of JumpSpark. Nathan has worked as the Family Impact Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta for the past six years where he grew the PJ Library initiative by instituting new initiatives like PJ microgrants and programming for the Russian-speaking Jewish community, doubling subscription numbers, and deepening opportunities for community partnership. Originally from Sarasota, Florida, he previously worked at the boarding high school American Hebrew Academy (AHA) in Greensboro, North Carolina and was on staff at Ramah Darom for six years. Nathan is currently pursuing his MBA from Kennesaw State University and has a BA in Anthropology and BS in Psychology and Jewish Studies from Tulane University. He looks forward to connecting with you about how JumpSpark can support your teen engagement initiatives.

We’re Hiring

By JumpSpark

We’re ready to expand the JumpSpark team! JumpSpark is the Jewish teen initiative out of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and we’re hiring for two full-time positions. Do you think you have what it takes to join a fun, hardworking organization dedicated to Jewish engagement and education in Atlanta? Scroll down to see both positions we’re hiring for.

Director of Israel Engagement

REPORTS TO: Director of JumpSpark and Director of Global Jewish Peoplehood

CLASSIFICATION: Full-time, Exempt

SALARY: $60,000-$65,000


The Director of Israel Engagement will oversee two main programs that aim to increase Israel connection and education focused on youth. The key initiatives include:

  • Create meaningful connections between teens in Atlanta and the people, land, and state of Israel
  • Lengthen the arc of engagement for teen participants with Israel and the Jewish community
  • Increase participation of Atlanta teens in summer Israel travel experiences
  • Bring Israel and Jewish Atlanta together through human connections with a focus on the Shinshinim as a key driver of engagement
  • Provide Israel education and engagement to local Atlanta organizations reaching a variety of demographics and age groups


JumpSpark:  JumpSpark serves as Atlanta’s initiative for Jewish teen engagement connecting and collaborating with the community to create more meaningful and defining moments for Jewish teens in Atlanta while enhancing the infrastructure of Jewish education and engagement in Atlanta. JumpSpark invests in existing programs, supports new and innovative ideas, and fosters creative thinking to meet the needs of teens, their parents, and Jewish educators and professionals that work with teens. Our portfolio includes Teen Programs, Navigating Parenthood workshops, Jewish Professional Development, and Grants.

Schoenbaum Shinshinim: The Shinshinim Service Year Abroad Program is a partnership between Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and the Jewish Agency for Israel. This program selects trained young Israelis to spend a year of service in our community.  The Shinshinim live with host families and work across the Atlanta Jewish community where they engage a variety of community members in Israel education and engagement. The Shinshinim develop personal relationships with the community at large with the intention to serve as role models and informal educators and to instill a profound love and appreciation for Israel.


  • Oversee JumpSpark’s expanding portfolio of teen Israel engagement and education work in the Atlanta Jewish community
  • Increase Atlanta’s teen Israel travel participation numbers by 90% by 2022 through a multi-pronged strategy focusing on teens, parents, and professionals
  • Develop an engagement pipeline for teen Israel education, engagement, and travel from Bnai Mitzvah to college
  • Supervise the Shinshinim program including creating work plans, serving as a liaison to partner programs, and providing training and guidance in best practices of Israel education, curriculum, and pedagogy
  • Oversee JumpSpark’s new Amplifying Israel Teen Fellowship to expand and grow the relationship with teens in our partner region of Yokneam/Meggido
  • Work with pre-selected teen Israel travel providers to develop and fund multi-part, pre- and/or post-engagement opportunities, including directing grants and overseeing outcomes
  • Work with Jewish Teen Funders Network to develop and implement JumpSpark funded teen Israel Giving Circle program
  • Create professional learning opportunities and assist in curricular resource and program development for the Shinshinim and worksite coordinators
  • Establish high-level professional development opportunities for Atlanta Jewish educators around the topic of Israel
  • Expand JumpSpark’s work with 3Owl Media to build-out website, social media and marketing materials and strategies to engage community members and promote teen Israel travel and engagement
  • Serve as a concierge for local parents and teens to learn about opportunities and as a forum to connect with Israel before and after Israel trip participation
  • Work with JumpSpark’s professional data and evaluation team at Informing Change as well as other consultants identified by Federation to develop and implement data gathering and evaluation metrics to track the impact of RootOne dollars and programming in the Atlanta Jewish teen community and the impact of Shinshinim in the community
  • Ensure cross-collaboration with other Federation professionals to better leverage resources and talent
  • Initiate and respond to Federation and JumpSpark staff, board members, volunteers, and the lay community
  • Other duties as assigned

The above job duties and responsibilities describe the general nature and level of work for employees in this position, but this is not intended as an exclusive or all-inclusive inventory of all duties required of employees in this job.


  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • Knowledge of, passion for, and/or an authentic personal connection to the relevant issues of Jewish communal life, Israel, and familiarity with the Jewish calendar
  • Experience in professional setting with standard business tools
  • Willingness to learn new systems, programs, and skills as needed
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational, written, and oral communication skills
  • Self-motivated with a willingness to take initiative in a fast-paced, team environment
  • Demonstrated organizational skills, with attention to detail and proven ability to fill and manage a complex schedule
  • Superior customer service skills
  • Positive attitude, even when faced with a high-stress environment and uncertainty

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: Intermittent standing and walking with prolonged periods of sitting at a desk or in meetings. Work hours include nights and weekends, as needed. You must have stamina needed to attend morning, evening and weekend meetings and events in addition to a regular schedule. Must be available for local, national, and international travel to attend meetings, functions and other activities. Must provide your own transportation and have a valid State of Georgia driver’s license and proof of automobile insurance.

Education and Engagement Manager

DEPARTMENT: Community Planning and Impact

REPORTS TO: JumpSpark Director

STATUS: Full-time

SALARY: $50,000-$55,000

PRINCIPAL FUNCTION:  As Jewish Atlanta continues to boom, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta intends to play a bold and creative role in reimagining and deepening community engagement. We are looking for a driven self-starter to join our team as we expand the ways we impact the community through Jewish education and engagement.

JumpSpark, Atlanta’s initiative for Jewish teen engagement, connects and collaborates with the community to create more meaningful and defining moments for Jewish teens in Atlanta while enhancing the infrastructure of Jewish education and engagement in Atlanta. JumpSpark invests in existing programs, supports new and innovative ideas, and thinks creatively to meet the needs of teens, their parents, and Jewish educators and professionals that work with teens. Our portfolio includes Teen Programs, Navigating Parenthood workshops, Jewish Professional Development, and Grants. JumpSpark exists to bring together Jews across Atlanta to preserve and progress our community for the future and help teens grow and discover their best selves.

JumpSpark is a major initiative of Federation’s Community Planning and Impact (CPI) department.  CPI includes all of Federation’s grants and allocations, our innovation portfolio, as well as programs focused on Jewish engagement and education.  As we seek to align programming and services to best meet the needs of our community, the Education and Engagement Manager will have programmatic responsibilities in other areas of CPI in addition to JumpSpark. 

We seek an enthusiastic creative thinker, bridge-builder, and innovator who is excited by JumpSpark’s and CPI’s mission to offer pathways into Jewish living by creating opportunities for genuine connection and growth for Jews from every part of our city.  The Education and Engagement Manager will be team oriented, able to manage multiple projects simultaneously, willing to take risks, and be committed to Federation’s core values of excellence, fearlessness, and empathy.  The candidate should be familiar with the Jewish education and engagement landscape, players, and trends and must be comfortable working in a fast-paced, innovative, and experimental work environment with general supervision.


The Education and Engagement Manager will have the following areas of responsibility:

  • Build strong relationships in the Atlanta Jewish community
  • Strengthen Atlanta’s Jewish teen ecosystem by working with teens, families of teens and educators and professionals who work with teens
  • Create and manage innovative programming for JumpSpark’s target populations including curricular development and implementation
  • Work with JumpSpark grantee partners on program implementation and grant oversight
  • Engage in the national conversation of Jewish innovation and education
  • Participate in the national network of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative
  • Complete a broad variety of tasks as needed to further the mission of JumpSpark and Community Planning and Impact department
  • Manage brand and identity for JumpSpark and its application to all print and electronic communications
  • Manage the development of the JumpSpark website and its content; maintain the site and links daily
  • Manage JumpSpark’s social media presence through all relevant platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, and public relation opportunities, creating content and maintaining a consistent and constant presence, including at periodic community-wide events and celebrations
  • Provide concierge services for members of the community seeking entry points into Jewish life
  • Serve as a member of the CPI education and engagement team to provide programmatic support and leadership for family retreats and help develop a pipeline of engagement for pre-teens and their families


  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 3-5 years of experience working in Jewish education or engagement
  • Thorough knowledge of common web content management systems and a proven record of using excellent judgment with social media for brand awareness and marketing
  • Knowledge of, passion for, and/or an authentic personal connection to the relevant issues of Jewish communal life and familiarity with the Jewish calendar
  • An appreciation for the diversity of Jewish identity, expression, and practice
  • Experience in professional setting with standard business tools
  • Willingness to learn new systems, programs, and skills as needed
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational, written and oral communication skills
  • A dynamic and outgoing personality with the ability to build relationships with a variety of different audiences and ages
  • Self-motivated with a willingness to take initiative in a fast-paced, team environment
  • Demonstrated organizational skills, with attention to detail and proven ability to fill and manage a complex schedule requiring extensive local travel

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:  Intermittent standing and walking with prolonged periods of sitting at desk or in meetings.  Must have stamina needed to attend morning, evening and weekend meetings and events in addition to regular schedule.

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta provides equal employment opportunities to all applicants and prohibits discrimination regarding race, religion, age, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

COVID’s Ripple Effects on Youth

By JumpSpark

Jewish Atlanta is responding to the mental health fallout of the pandemic on today’s youth, from specialized services and counselors to programs to help parents and camps.


Annie Fortnow, said helping parents “ultimately supports the family unit.”

Annie Fortnow, said helping parents “ultimately supports the family unit.”

Like the grieving period following a death, when the mourner is expected to eventually return to full engagement in life again, today’s youth are struggling to cope after a pandemic that left them socially isolated, seriously dependent on technology, and with tremendous emotional scars from the traumatic change and loss.

For many young people, the pandemic hit at a time in their lives when so much rides on identity and social connection, leading to significant psychological and emotional challenges, as seen in new community programs in Jewish Atlanta focused on mental health.

With May being national Mental Health Awareness Month, the AJT spoke with Jewish Atlanta’s community leaders and those who work with youth about how the psychological and emotional needs of children post-COVID are being met and how to address the ripple effects expected to continue for some time.

The community’s response to the pandemic has evolved with its growing mental health needs, according to Rich Walter, vice president of program and grant making for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. At the start of the pandemic, the community response focused on funding to meet immediate needs, including food, health and safety, and making sure Jewish organizations were financially stable, with broad strokes in terms of mental health needs, Walter said. More recently, the community’s attention has shifted to mental health as more community members sought help, he said. “A large percentage allocated from the [COVID-19] emergency fund is dedicated to mental health. … As the pandemic lags on more and more, the mental health challenge comes to the forefront.”

Percent change from January-November 2019 to January-November 2020 in mental health claim lines and all medical claim lines. Ages 13 to 18
Source: FAIR Health: “The Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Mental Health.”

Percent change from January-November 2019 to January-November 2020 in mental health claim lines and all medical claim lines. Ages 19 to 22

Source: FAIR Health: “The Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Mental Health

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, announced in April 2020, raised $4.3 million for relief efforts with $3.4 million in grants allocated so far, according to the Federation website.

Earlier this year, the Federation conducted a mental health community survey with Jewish Family & Career Services to assess the needs and what the next action steps should be to address those needs. A total of 515 respondents were polled about stress, coping strategies and what programs they wished existed. The Federation will analyze the results over the next few months “to craft a response and identify the right partners and how to move forward,” Walter said.

Among the findings, the youngest age groups, including those under 25, experienced the most stress across all stress factors. The top stressor of the under-25 set was self-care, 64 percent, followed by isolation, 61 percent, and a high-risk family member, 54 percent.

Top resources requested: activities they can do as a family, virtual exercise classes, and support for virtual learning.

The takeaway from the survey, “Supporting Self Care to Promote Mental Health Resilience” was that even though it looks like the community is reentering life as before the pandemic, many are dealing with trauma and loss, Walter said. “People may have been trying to cope through self-help mechanisms, but as long as this goes on, the challenges become more astute in the community. We try to predict what will happen and direct resources to experts who are able to deal with it.” He said the community has definitely seen an uptick in clinical requests in the last few months.

Meanwhile, some of the newest community initiatives involving mental health include:

Working with camps: JF&CS will connect with Jewish camps to meet mental health needs as they arise over the summer, Walter said.

Synagogue outreach: A $25,000 emergency fund grant JF&CS received last year was renewed to continue to fund synagogue outreach, as some of the needs of the community come through the synagogues, not directly to social service agencies, he said.

Hiring more clinicians: Another $75,000 emergency fund grant will help JF&CS hire more clinicians to meet the backlog of those seeking clinical services, Walter said.

Helping teen parents: JumpSpark teen engagement program offered six sessions with a facilitator called the PhD in Parenting April 14 to May 21, providing parent education for raising tweens and teens in today’s world. It offered parents tools and strategies for identifying mental health challenges and teaching coping skills.

“The relationship between parents and teens is so essential,” said Annie Fortnow, JumpSpark engagement manager. “We feel if we support parents’ mental health, it ultimately supports the family unit.”

Paul Root Wolpe said some kids haven’t been around their peers because of the pandemic.

Another program JumpSpark offers for parents of teens is Project Launch, which began May 2 and will run through June 6. It helps parents of high schoolers “launch their seniors to the next step, whether that be college or a gap year,” Fortnow said. The program will help parents build resilience and form small supportive community groups in the fall in partnership with the Federation and area synagogues, she said.

Peer support: JumpSpark also is trying to increase its “community within a community,” Fortnow said. “We need to double down on teen mental health and resiliency and prioritize relationships teens have with each other.”

For instance, JumpSpark is piloting a new Jewish teen boys’ program in which they mentor each other, she said.

For Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University, the community priorities should be:

1 – Sensitivity and understanding that youth are still grieving

They may ask: “Why does it have to be my senior year? Why do I have to miss out on parties? These are personal losses they never really get back. People are sad about it. It leads to a greater increase in depression in youth, a spike in suicides.

“We lost a half-million people.,” he said. Some of the students may have lost peers, grandparents, siblings or others. “It’s a time of deep loss. They are grieving not just lost opportunities, but lost people.” And grief counselors may discover the immediacy of those losses may not be fully realized until the students return to their typical routines, he said.

2 – Recognizing that social interactions may be different post-pandemic

“One of the real challenges of the very young, people under 5, is that they had very little social contact” during the pandemic, Wolpe said. “There are 2- to 3-year- olds who never, ever played with other children,” Wolpe explained. “Or even if they are just at the beginning of school, being in the presence of others … sharing, and controlling your anger, you don’t learn on Zoom.”

Educators will need to have “a little more understanding and tolerance, even among kids who should know better” in terms of appropriate behavior.


Jaime Stepansky believes social media can be used to promote mental health.

For older students, being in the presence of a potential romantic partner “is different than interactions on Zoom.” Technology may have enhanced their verbal negotiations, but it may impair their understanding of normal body cues, body language and inappropriate touching, Wolpe said.

Jaime Stepansky, a JF&CS child adolescent therapist, believes Jewish Atlanta’s adults should:

1 – Validate the struggles of teens to develop their own identities
For some, the limited in-person socializing last year may have increased their social anxiety, Stepansky added.

Youth “try to differentiate their identities through social responses. They are constantly navigating the waters” to determine how they are unique and how they fit in, she said. “Having young people at home with their parents so much may have thwarted that a little. … Parents inform them the direction they want them to go but they really need to find their own way. It’s like parents give them a MapQuest and they say, ‘No thanks. I’ll use my iPhone to get there.’”

2 – Understand the impact of technology as an addiction

During the pandemic, Stepansky found that many parents loosened their restrictions on their kids’ technology time. Students “get off Zoom and then they get on their own devices. At school at least they would police and monitor it.”

Stepansky said eight to 16 hours a day of technology use is average for teens she counsels. “It takes them two to four hours of social media or TV on their phone to fall asleep at night.” When she asks about supplements such as melatonin, they say they don’t want to get addicted. “It’s creating a kind of inability to sit with just thoughts and feelings. We were never meant for our attention to be split in so many ways. It’s the antithesis of healthy engagement.”

Youth “need to feel engaged and that they matter” and technology offers that, Stepanksy said. Like alcohol or drugs, it also numbs from boredom, isolation, grief, the change in life, and the lack of control, she said.

Because technology isn’t going away any time soon, Stepansky believes the best method to curb its overuse is through a harm-reduction model and an “if you can’t beat them, join them” response. “What can we do to reach them through technology that would be more beneficial to mental health?”

Her solutions include:

  • Using social platforms such as TikTok with entertaining videos to teach teens about mental health. Teens can also make TikTok projects around mental health, she said. JF&CS also has an Instagram, @jfcsclinical, and is presenting “Real Talk” June 10, including teen mental health post-pandemic.
  • Encouraging technology use in the home or in social settings be reduced. Set boundaries. Sit and talk, be present and engaged, not dividing attention between interactions and technology. Parents should model this behavior too.

Rich Walter said Federation polled the community about their mental health wish list.

3 – Provide more camp and camp-like activities that are more accessible and affordable.

Stepansky believes camps can bridge the socialization void of the pandemic before students return to the classroom full-time next fall.

“The first couple of days of camp is a detox from technology.” It allows children to engage with others, explore their interests, “be themselves. It strips away the social pressures of school and regular life.”

She said she expects there may be many calls home this summer, but children will be able to work through their anxiety before returning to the physical classroom and in-person socialization.

Not everyone can afford summer camp, so she also encourages other camp-like activities, such as outdoor movies or team building. “If you show a movie, every kid will be on their phone, but if you remove phones or engage young people in playing a game … they’ll talk to each other.”

4 – Consider modifying the school day to allow for more downtime

“Schools realized [during COVID] they could modify the schedule” of school without setbacks. For instance, some schools didn’t have classes on Wednesdays so students could catch up on schoolwork and enjoy a break from virtual classes. Some Jewish schools reduced hours, Stepansky said. Years before schools thought they had to fit more in the day, but COVID taught them otherwise.

The children on sports leagues found that even an hour a week outside to practice during COVID was exhilarating.

“I have bunch of kids who are seniors at Dunwoody [High School]. During senior week, they had to go to school and be outside. They said it was their best week in months. There was free food. They could grab food and see their friends. Sometimes we overthink things. … Give them food and they will come.”

What the Future Holds

In September, the Federation’s Atlanta Jewish Foundation began a series of scenario-planning sessions with 150 Jewish professionals and lay leaders to determine the long-term needs of the community as a result of the pandemic, including in the area of mental health. A report on the findings and funding options aren’t expected for at least two months, said Jori Mendel, the Foundation’s deputy director.

Walter said the Federation intentionally held money back from “the community funds to meet the needs into the next year as we begin to emerge out of this.” Increased staffing to deal with mental health is among the priorities. Engaging in the “new normal” may have to change, he said. For instance, programming may involve neighborhood groups or smaller initiatives.

While traumatic in the short term, the jury is still out on the long-term mental health implications of the pandemic on youth, said Wolpe, the Emory ethicist. “I don’t think in 10 to 15 years, there’ll be a significant difference between 2- to 3-years-olds who went through COVID and ones who did not.” Time will tell, he said. “We are going to see the influence a few years into the future.”

This article was originally published in the Atlanta Jewish Times.

For more information, visit The Blue Dove Foundation, JF&CS Clinical Services,, or the CDC’s resource guide,

Jewish Teens Guide To Understanding the Current Israeli-Palestinian Crisis

By JumpSpark

Resources and opportunities for connection and conversation for Jewish teens, parents, educators and professionals.

The current situation in Israel is complex and there are many narratives, viewpoints and resources filling our news and social media channels. Jewish Teen Initiative at CJP has compiled a collection of resources to help you learn about the evolving situation, which will be updated as new opportunities and resources become available.Join our Email List SIGN UP.

This article was originally published in Jewish Boston Teens.

What Is Happening?

Understanding Context and Bias

Exploring Our Relationship With Israel

Reflections and Hope for Peace


Atlanta and Yoqne’am Illit Local Guide

By JumpSpark

Since Atlanta and Yoqne’am Illit and Megiddo are partnership cities, Yonatan and Stella have created local guides for their hometowns. We hope you enjoy getting to know the cities better from the perspective of high school Jewish teenagers! By Yonatan Cohen & Stella Mackler, May Amplifying Israel Teen Fellows

Everything to do and see in Atlanta!

Atlanta is an incredible city. It has a rich and complicated history which is evident throughout the city.  In this guide, you will find great sight-seeing spots, delicious restaurants, historic neighborhoods and so much more!


Where to find that necessary cup of coffee: One of my favorite cafes in Atlanta is Apotheos Roastery, formerly known as San Francisco Coffee. They have two locations, and one of them happens to be super close to where I live! They roast, brew, and bag their own beans and offer classic drinks like lattes and cappuccinos alongside a rotating seasonal menu. They also serve pastries fresh out of the oven and offer breakfast toast, sandwiches, and other local products like King of Pops.

Lunchtime bite: Take a quick but filling stop for lunch at Mediterranean Grill (aka Med Grill). They are 100% Halal (except for the gyros) and serve many familiar favorites like hummus, pita wraps, lentil soup, and so much more. The greek potatoes are a particular standout. Its a common site to see people walking around with takeout containers filled with just that. Med Grill is perfectly located across the street from Piedmont Park and the Beltline, making it a convenient spot for your day of exploring.

Dinner: For the last meal of the day, make your way to Doc Cheys, somewhat of a hidden gem in the neighborhood of Morningside. They serve a wide array of pan-Asian fare with ever-changing weekly specials. I have grown up spending Saturday nights with the grandparents and friends here, and it’s not just because of the food. The sense of community the restaurant welcomes you with is impossible to miss. The waiters there are the same ones that have been there since I was seven years old and the takeout guy and I are on a first name basis. Some notable dishes include the thai peanut salad and the mongolian stir fry. Doc Cheys is vegetarian/vegan friendly and most dishes can be served with tofu.

Sightseeing/touristy spots

The Beltline: The Beltline is “a sustainable redevelopment” project that will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar, and parks – all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta. The Eastside trail is my recommended starting place. It is covered with murals and other forms of public art. There is a skate park, playground, and it often hosts festivals, like the lantern parade.

Ponce City Market: Ponce City Market is a multi-use building with shopping, fitness, and a dining hall all in one. It is located inside a former Sears factory and is conveniently right off the Beltline. There are some great shops, like Citizen Supply and Modern Mystic, and places to grab a bite, like St.Germain Bakery. There is also an amusement park and restaurant on the roof, with very pretty views at night.

Piedmont Park: Of all the places to see on this list, Piedmont Park is the one you absolutely cannot skip. The greenspace is the perfect place for a walk by the lake, a picnic, an exercise day, or just plain old people watching. It stretches from tenth street into the heart of midtown and is the site of the Music Midtown festival in the fall. There is a farmers market there every Saturday morning, and festivals are a common occurrence in the summer.

Historic Neighborhoods

Virginia Highlands (VaHi): Named after the intersection of Virginal Avenue and North Highland Avenue, the VaHi neighborhood is famous for its historic houses built between the 1910s-1930s.

Old Fourth Ward (O4W): O4W is located just east of downtown and is the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.America’s best known civil rights leaders.  It is also home to a giant park, Historic Fourth Ward Park, which includes a skate park, splash pad, and outdoor theater. Many of the best restaurants in Atlanta are located within O4W.

Sweet Auburn: This area is a historic African American neighborhood and was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1976. The first Black newspaper in the US, the Atlanta Daily World, began in Sweet Auburn. The neighborhood is also home to 4 prominent Black churches, the Civil Right Walk of Fame, and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.

What Can You Do in Yoqne’am Illit?

Yoqneam is a small city in northern Israel.  It’s about 20 kilometers from the city of Haifa and about 80 kilometers from Tel-Aviv. The city is located alongside Israel’s main highways – highway 70 and highway 6, enabling you to reach the center of Israel and its northern areas quickly. Yoqneam is known as “Israel’s Startup Village,” because its’ hi-tech hub is surrounded by forest and small communities.  Yoqneam was founded in 1950 and became a city in 2007. Yoqneam is an attractive city to many young families who seek to live in a small and quiet, village-like place, yet enjoy all the things a city can offer, as described below.

Shopping in Yoqneam

Yoqneam has several shopping centers that include a mall and an open shopping domain where you can find famous clothing shops, supermarkets, homeware, hardware shops and more. All of them offer free parking, which shoppers find very convenient.

Dining in Yoqneam

Yoqneam has a few well-known restaurants, coffee shops and food and beverage counters you can enjoy.  One of the most popular restaurants in the city is “BBB,” which is an exclusive burger diner where people from all over Israel come to eat.

Sport in Yoqneam ⚽

If you’re looking to keep in shape while in Yoqneam, you have come to the right place. Yoqneam offers a big country club where you can go to the gym, train at different sport classes, such as: Pilates, Yoga, Zumba and more, and swim in an outdoor or an indoor pool.  Aside of the country club, you can find a big gym at the mall and a smaller one at the industrial area.

Culture in Yoqneam

If you’re fond of shows and plays, you can come to Yoqneam theatre.  This theatre hosts popular shows and actors from all over Israel. There is a miniatures museum and a winery.

Since Yoqneam is mentioned in the Bible, there is archeological evidence that the area exists for 3,500 years.  In the new archeological visitors center, you can find items aged thousands of years which tell the story of the city with its rich past.

Nature in Yoqneam

Yoqneam was built on a hill in the middle of nature, therefore, nature surrounds all its areas. There are wide parks where you can take a walk or just sit by the pond and relax.  There is a stream that runs through the city where you can walk beside it.  There is a big forest and a spacious field area where you can hike and ride a bike.

Being an Israeli Shelach

By JumpSpark

I was born in Israel and have been living in Israel my whole life.  As an Israeli teen, I am required to take part in a volunteering activity at school, and there are different kinds of volunteering activities to choose from.  I chose to be a young “Shelach” guide. “Shelach” stands for “Field Nationality Society”. Being a young “Shelach” guide means to learn about Israel – its history, places, and society through touring the country.

Throughout the “Shelach” activities I experienced camp life, including:  Building tents, cooking in the field and lighting a fire.  We also get a taste of life in the army as we practice discipline, basic training, and work as a member of a team to accomplish tasks.  We are also being trained on different subjects, and as we grow older, we may become trainers ourselves.

We are also very much involved in community life, where we support and assist our community whenever needed.

I am proud to be a young “Shelach” guide being able to contribute to my country.  Whenever I achieve a goal or finish a mission, I feel proud of myself and my team.  I enjoy the activities and the tours we have very much, and I feel satisfied that I can train younger teens, strengthen their connection to Israel and teach them to love the country and the Israeli life. 

My Typical School Day As An American Teen

By JumpSpark

It’s Monday morning. My alarm goes off at 6:15 am, which is too early. Way too early. But for me, this is just the start of a normal day. I like to run in the mornings, so I have to get up this early to make sure I have enough time to be in the car on the way to school by 8:10. I roll out of bed and get ready to go, passing the mezuzah on my bedroom door frame, then my front door, taking off down the street as the run begins to peek through the clouds. I love running in the morning. It’s a stress reliever, a break, a time all to myself. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, or music, or nothing at all. I pass the same people each morning, the walking mom in the bright colored tank top, the men who run together, the man waiting for the Marta bus on the corner. My morning runs are one of the only constants in my life, and they bring me a great sense of peace. 

When I get back to my house after about an hour, it’s time to get ready for the day. I grab some breakfast, which normally consists of oatmeal with a banana, and of course a cup of coffee. I call out to my brother, who is perpetually late, that I am leaving whether he is ready or not. He normally makes it to the car door before I’m out of the driveway. Then we are off to school. It’s about a 10 minute drive to my high school.I go to an inner city school so it’s a pretty diverse place, but there aren’t that many Jews, maybe me and about 5 or 6 other people in my grade. This means I often have to deal with tests on high holidays and pointed stares whenever we study the Holocaust. Even so, my school remains one of the most accepting environments I’ve ever found myself in. I feel lucky when I say I’ve never felt like an outsider or unwelcome in any way because of my Judaism.

I am a junior and my brother Meyer is a freshman. We don’t see each other much during the day, but then again, I don’t see many people during my school day. Because of the pandemic, classes were all online for the majority of this school year. When school reopened in February, only about 15% of students chose to come back. Out of my four classes, the biggest one has four people aside from me. Everyone else is at home. 

At the beginning of every class I log on to Zoom. Even though I am back in school, due to the fact that the majority of students are not, we still conduct classes all online. We have an hour-long break for lunch, which is nice. I spend that in my photography class. I’m the only one in that class who went back to school in person. There used to be one other boy there with me, but he was a senior and he graduated so now it is just me and my teacher. I’m fine with that though, I like my teacher and I enjoy the time I get to spend talking with her. My youngest brother’s bar mitzvah was during the first week of May, so I’ve been telling her all about that. I read Torah and I didn’t mess up! My family was super lucky because we actually were allowed to invite guests to the service (we had 50 people). 

Celebrating my brother’s Bar Mitzvah

At the end of the school day, which is at 3:30, I walk out to the parking lot and wait for Meyer to meet me in my car. Sometimes I have to bring some of his friends home too, a lot of them live in our neighborhood. I like to drive with the windows down, especially since it’s gotten warmer out. There is this really pretty street that we drive down on the way home, it’s lined with cute houses and there is a park too, but my favorite part is all the trees that flower in the spring.

Once we get home, I start on my homework, or mock trial, or my school newspaper article, or anything else that needs to get done. Friday nights are different though. On Friday nights (on the rare chance that all five of my family members are home for dinner) we gather around the table over my mom’s homemade challah. We do the brachah over the candles, the wine, the children, and of course the delicious bread. Then we sit down to a home cooked meal made by my mom and myself, and we enjoy our time together. 


By JumpSpark

Alexa Freedman and Julia Harris, Strong Women Fellows, co-authored this article originally published in VOXATL.


As anyone who struggles with mental illness knows, it is hard to love your brain and appreciate your mind, when you know that in some cases it is the root of your issues. However, Pamela Schuller, an internationally known disability and mental health advocate and professional standup comedian, has learned to love her brain and embrace what makes her different.

In March, JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship got to hear from Schuller. She has an incredibly interesting story and used hilarious anecdotes to tell it. When she was young, Pamela had the worst diagnosed case of Tourette Syndrome in the country. Pamela says she loves Tourettes; it’s the best neurological disorder she could have asked for, she told us. 

How, you may ask, did she make it to this point? It was a long journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and unfortunately, pain. For a long time, Pamela said, she believed she was a waste of space; she struggled with being an outsider and with her disability defining her. When asked to write something she loved about herself, she was unable. Throughout the years, however, with help from therapists, friends, and community, Pamela has learned that she is more than her diagnosis and has so much to give to the world.

Throughout our session, Pamela shared many funny stories from her childhood experiences, but each one taught a lesson. She certainly faced many hardships growing up, including having a broken neck and several broken bones due to her tics, but she chose not to focus on those when telling her story. For example, she shared how one night, she was barking (this happens when she is excited), and a neighbor complained about her having a dog in their no-pet complex. Pamela said she absolutely mortified the landlord, who had come to explain the rule, when she said the barking was her. The landlord promised to never come to her if anyone else complained again, and according to Pamela, she went out and got a dog right after. This funny story really stuck with me, since instead of being upset Pamela really made the most out of the situation.

She was once told that her case of Tourette’s Syndrome was one of the worst, but today she uses her own story in hopes of inspiring others. Pamela taught a very important lesson to the Strong Women Fellowship: Every person has struggles, but every person still adds so much value to the world. If allowed, a perceived disability or illness can add wonderful things to a person’s life. It is possible to balance struggling and loving oneself at the same time.

Alexa’s takeaway: As someone who has struggled with mental illness her whole life, it was so empowering for me to hear Pamela talk about all the ways she has embraced her diagnoses and let them enrich her life, instead of taking away from it. It gave me a lot of hope to see Pamela thriving and having so much self-love because of the way she has transformed her diagnoses into blessings instead of burdens. Pamela’s journey is proof that with help and hard work, it is possible to break down defining barriers and rewrite who you are and how you want to live.

Julia’s takeaway: Pamela taught us so many valuable lessons and made me feel nothing but proud of who I am and what makes me different. I learned the importance of celebrating our differences, and her unique outlook really spoke to me. I also recognized how impactful it is to advocate for others who cannot do so for themselves, or else the pointing and laughing will continue. Sometimes I refrain from doing things that will make me stand out in fear of being judged, but I now realize that standing out is really special, and that there is no point in only considering others and not myself. It was so reassuring to know how much greatness came out of Pamela’s tough situation, and this made me think with a much more positive outlook. I now know that what might seem like an unbearable situation for me has to have some upsides; it just may take a little digging. Pamela Schuller — a Jewish, 4-foot 6-inch woman with Tourette’s (or, as she calls it, “the trifecta”), taught me so much from the little time spent with her. I will certainly be passing on her story and using her advice in my daily life.

Alexa Freedman is an 11th grader at The Galloway School, and Julia Harris is a 10th grader at Dunwoody High School. Both are second-year Fellows and Peer Leaders for the JumpSpark Strong Women Fellowship.

An Atlanta foundation bets big on the Israel gap year

By JumpSpark

30 Jewish teens will receive gap-year subsidies of at least $10,000 next year

As the number of American students in Israel on gap-year programs between high school and college began to jump during the pandemic, an Atlanta foundation was taking careful note.

Now, the Zalik Family Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta are trying to sustain that “COVID bump” by making the gap-year experience more affordable.

“It’s basically a fifth year of college,” said Kelly Cohen, until recently the director of JumpSpark, the Atlanta federation’s center for teen programming.

Religiously observant communities in North America have long made a practice of sending high school graduates to spend a year studying at a yeshiva or seminary, but the practice was less common outside them, said Sheryl Korelitz, director of gap-year recruitment at Masa Israel Journey, which supports providers of long-term Israel trips for people ages 18-30 and is funded by the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency. In the 2019-2020 academic year, about 3,000 North American teens studied in religious settings, while 634 participated in other kinds of programs, such as the Young Judaea Year Course, which offers classroom study and volunteer experience, or the Nativ Leadership Program, offered by the Conservative movement.

Familiarity with the concept extended beyond the relatively small group of families that participated, however, said Korelitz, who was working at the time as a guidance counselor for Farber Hebrew Day School-Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield, Mich. When incoming freshmen realized last spring that they would be starting their college careers on Zoom, the idea of spending the year in Israel instead started to gain broader appeal.  

“People started scrambling,” she said, and the number of students from North America participating in the 30 non-religious gap-year programs Masa offers jumped by about 40%, to 1,100.

The pandemic limited the experience in some ways, Korelitz said. Groups of students had to quarantine upon entering Israel, and couldn’t travel freely throughout the country. Sites of cultural and historic interest were closed. However, many of the students became involved in anti-COVID volunteer work, such as putting together vaccination packets, which they found meaningful, she added.

The Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF), formed in the early days of the pandemic, responded to the opportunity to help those families and nurture their relationship to Israel by creating the JCRIF Gap Year in Israel Stimulus Fund, which gave funding to gap-year programs and scholarships to participants.

Inspired by JCRIF, the Zalik family came to JumpSpark with the idea of creating a local Atlanta program that would be easy to replicate in other communities, Cohen said.

Helen and David Zalik, the foundation’s principals, similarly said they wanted to harness the impact of the pandemic to create more enthusiasm for the gap-year experience, which they had long believed makes a lasting impact on students’ lives, enhances their readiness for college and will also improve Israel’s image on campus.

“If successful in Atlanta, we hope to help expand this model to other communities,” they said in an email.

In 2019, 12 students from the area participated in gap-year programs; during the pandemic, that number rose to 19, Cohen said.

To grow it further, JumpSpark did research through an internet survey and follow-up phone calls to families who tended to send their children straight to college, and asked them what they thought about the possibility of a year in Israel after high school.

“It wasn’t on their radar,” Cohen said. “There’s this hyper-focus on college admissions. Everything is about building your brand and your resume and going to school right away. But we knew we could disrupt that.”

JumpSpark also asked how much financial support was necessary to make the experience a fiscal possibility, and found that $10,000 was the right-sized subsidy. A gap year costs between $14,000 and $25,000, said Korelitz. Many federations give scholarships or subsidies for gap years, but the Zalik Family Foundation’s is the biggest, she added.

The foundation agreed to fund 30 subsidies; if a student agrees to add a service component, the subsidy rises to $15,000.

JumpSpark will apply to the Zalik Family Foundation to renew the grant, and now the question is whether the program will be taken up by funders in other cities, Cohen said.

“Because of the size of Atlanta we’re very much right-sized to do a pilot,” she said. “This work is replicable, but you have to have funding behind it.”

This article was originally published in eJewishPhilanthopy.

JumpSpark Amplifying Israel Pop Culture Phrases

By JumpSpark

When compiling the list, we enjoyed learning more about each other’s cultures and we hope you enjoy reading our list of pop culture phrases too!

This list has been compiled by our April Amplifying Israel Teen Fellows: Rian Gordon, Atlanta and Noa Boguslavsky and Tamir Shaginyan, Yokneam, Israel.

Hebrew Phrases:

“Al hapanim” – על הפנים- when something is really bad and not fun.

Example- I’m really bored… this concert is “al hapanim.”

“Sababa” – סבבה – okay or “cool”

Example- “sababa”, I’ll be there tonight.

“Chai beseret” – חי בסרט – something you call someone when he is “dreaming” or not connect to reality (in free translation it is- living in a movie).

“Met al ze”- מת על זה- when you wanna say you really love something (in free translation- “im dying on it”). Example- this food is great! “Ani met al ze”!

“Para para” – פרה פרה – very similar to- “one step at a time” (a bit weird, but in free translation it means- “cow cow”).

Nadir-נדיר  “awesome”

Sahi -סאחי “someone boring and simple”

Ani Pipi-אני פיפי “It’s so funny, I can pee out of laughter.״

English Phrases:

“That slaps” – when something is excellent or amazing!

Example: That song slaps!

“Break a leg”- A way to wish someone good luck before a performance of some kind.

“She’s so sweet, she told me to break a leg on stage tonight.”

“I’m down”- I agree or am interested.

“Wanna go to the movies?” “Ya I’m down.”

YOLO- “You only live once”

“I know I shouldnt eat the whole pizza by myself but YOLO.” 

“For real” – to speak honestly

“That was scary for real.”

Drip- extreme coolness, style

“You got some nice drip.”

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