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Words of Reflection from an Atlanta Shinshin

By Global News, Shinshinim Atlanta

In August of this year, Greater Atlanta welcomed eight Israeli emissaries to our community thanks to the Schoenbaum Shinshinim program. Shinshinim are 18-year old high school graduates from all over Israel who complete a year of service in Jewish Atlanta, fostering connection to Israel for community members of all ages.

Here is a reflection from one of our Shinshinim, Matan, age 18:

Fri night [October 6, 2023] at 11:30 pm began the worst night of my life. I was awoken by messages of alarms being sounded in Israel. As I turned to my phone, I began to see videos of terrorists inside Israel. I was living my worst nightmare, worried about my family, my country, my friends. 

My immediate feeling was that I wanted to go home. I wanted to join my countrymen and women on the frontlines and defend Israel. But as the hours and days passed, I began to recognize the important job I was doing here in Atlanta. As a Shinshin, I am here to represent Israel. I can combat fake news. I can answer questions. I can share my love of Israel with the children in my school and so many others. And each and every day since the war broke out, I have gotten to do that.

At the Solidarity Gathering the other night, I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support for Israel. To know that I am living in a community where so many people care so deeply, means a lot to me.

Yesterday I learned that I lost a dear friend. My heart is heavy. I am devastated over the loss. And though a part of me wishes I was in Israel hugging my family and standing beside the brave men and women fighting for our country, I know that I have an important job to do right here in Atlanta and I am honored to do it.

Matan Moshe

Connect Jewishly Through Honeymoon Israel

By Jewish Journeys, NextGen Atlanta

“I never could have predicted the true impact of this experience—we had the most incredible trip that I am certain has changed our lives forever. We found new ways to incorporate Judaism into our family, we learned new perspectives, and most importantly, we found a new community to create and share memories with for years to come.” 

Allison & Sam, Atlanta 

For many young couples, it can be tough to find an entry point into Jewish life and decide how practices and traditions will shape their family. Honeymoon Israel offers a way in: immersive group travel to Israel lets couples from the same city encounter and explore history, tradition, and identity on their own terms.

The program engages couples in an open-ended inquiry into how they connect to Jewish life and how they’ll incorporate Jewish values and traditions into their families. Honeymoon Israel supports couples in their exploration of Jewish life and traditions and fosters the organic development of community. The journey continues once travelers return home through alumni events and programs.  

Honeymoon Israel builds groups that are reflective of the entire community, welcoming couples who are both Jewish, interfaith, Jewish by choice, multi-racial, LGBTQ+, with disabilities, married, unmarried, with or without kids, and more. Federation is proud to support the work of Honeymoon Israel in championing and engaging young couples in and around Atlanta.  


Gap Years Change Lives

By JumpSpark

Atlanta’s most recent group of 28 Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellows has just returned home from an incredible, transformative year in Israel! These adventurous teenagers didn’t start college straight out of high school; instead, they spent a year exploring their interests, traveling an incredible country, exploring their connections to the Jewish world, and living independently. The Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of The Zalik Foundation Fund. Here are reflections from a just-returned fellow and a parent:

“My gap year meant the world to me! I can’t imagine the person I would’ve been without it. I grew so much—both emotionally and spiritually—and feel incredibly more prepared for college because of it. My favorite experiences on my gap year program were definitely Yom HaShoah and Yom Hazikaron. It was truly a privilege to be in Israel for these days that had always been sacred, yet distant from my identity. I will always remember the sirens that stopped every person, taxi, car, and bus. It was so meaningful to see the people of Israel honor and remember their brothers and sisters on both of these days. I am planning to take my independence and maturity with me, as well as my love for Israel! My gap year elevated all 3 of these parts of me tremendously and I can’t wait to use them to my advantage next year.”

Pnina Sasson, participant in Young Judaea Year Course, attending Tulane University in the fall

“Since my son, Gideon, began his Gap Year, he has matured and grown both physically and mentally. He’s more independent and self-sufficient—we also noticed that he is more aware of what is happening in the world around him. I know he will be able to manage his time and study better when he goes to college; he knows better, now, how to balance his work and fun. To any other families whose kids are considering a Gap Year, I say, “Do it!” Life is short, and giving them the gift of a year away is life changing for them and for you.”

-Dani Oren, son Gideon participant in Nativ College Leadership Program

Federation Celebrates Israel @75!

By Atlanta Jewish Community

Yom huledet sameach! The State of Israel is turning 75 years old, and Jewish Atlanta is ready to party! Here are a few activities happening in Atlanta this week where you can celebrate the 75th birthday of the country from afar. 

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival 
AJFF is showcasing Israel at 75, a retrospective of the cinematic history in the region from its independence date to today. This hybrid event will occur both in-person and on AJFF’s Virtual Cinema platform. It kicked off on April 23 and continues through April 30th. Click here to see the full lineup of offerings.  

Community Reception 
The Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta, in partnership with Georgia State, local governments, the Jewish community of Atlanta, and the Atlanta community at large, are excited to unite under one roof for an evening of solidarity, recognition, and celebration. This event will be a highly visible reminder of the strength of the bond between Atlanta and Israel. Wednesday, April 26, at 6 PM. Location provided upon registration. Click here to learn more.  

Food Truck Thursday 
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta is excited to partner with the Jewish Federation of Greater of Atlanta and other communal organizations for a community-wide celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s 75th Independence Day. This celebration at Brook Run Park, as part of Food Truck Thursday, will include live music, kosher food options, activities, and a teen zone. Thursday, April 27, from 5:00 – 8:30 PM. Brook Run Park, 4770 N Peachtree Rd, Dunwoody, GA 30338.

These are just a few of the festivities that will be happening this week. Be sure to check the Atlanta Jewish Connector for more! 

This Year, In Jerusalem

By Federation News

Shalom! We just finished Federation’s long-awaited Community Journey, and I am writing this piece while I am still here, in Israel. To be here on the cusp of the country’s 75th birthday is almost unimaginable. A place that, at least my entire life, we always talked about, dreamed about, and worried about, is really 75. It’s a modern country now, full of life and diversity and all the complexities that come with that. 

It’s truly an honor to be here with so many members of our community. It’s been wonderful to have 10 of our communal rabbis, many of the heads of our Jewish agencies in Atlanta, and so many of my colleagues from Federation on this trip. This is a very diverse group of people from our community, including observant individuals and more secular individuals, those on the right and those on the left, gay and straight, first-timers and people who have visited Israel multiple times, old and young. It’s a beautiful representation of JewishATL. 

While we are visiting here during a very intense political moment, it has not impacted the experience. I’m especially proud of the options we have given participants. I spent one day on a hike that was absolutely beautiful, to a part of Israel I never been to. I spent another day visiting sites like Caesarea with first timers, and another visiting places like the Israel Blood Bank, which was a vision of our very own Marcus Foundation in Atlanta. It’s been beautiful each evening to come back and feel and hear the buzz of everyone bragging about the experiences they had through various eyes around this wonderful country. 

We started this trip on Holocaust Remembrance Day. We heard from Dr. Rachel Korazim, who is a Holocaust expert, and she framed the importance of this day in profound ways. In addition to recognizing the continued trauma the Shoah has caused our people. She also gave us context for understanding the division in the country right now and helped us to recognize the importance of understanding the perspective of other people before you judge their opinions. For instance, a Satmar Hassid in 1930’s Europe saw the world very differently than a secular Jew in Budapest. It reminded me that listening and understanding others is more important than judging others on perspectives that don’t align with mine.  

Another highlight on this trip was when we visited our partner city in Yokneam. We each visited with local families and were welcomed into their homes. It was wonderful to have open conversations with these families and be welcomed into their homes with their families to share a meal. They are families just like ours in Atlanta, trying to make sure their families feel connected to their Jewish identities. There’s so much we can learn from one another and it’s so beautiful to have these relationships. 

The importance of our community visiting Israel is not just to experience it, but to bring it home. Half of the Jewish world is in Israel now, and it’s so important that as we build a Jewish future in Atlanta, we have a living bridge to Israel. We are one family living in two different places and we must be connected. The only way we will be connected is through peoplehood, and that means relationships of people to people.  

As Israel has reached the age of 75. It’s more important than ever that the Atlanta community spend time strengthening their ties to Israel and understanding its history, its challenges, and its opportunity to be an important force to the future of the Jewish world as we know it. It must be a part of all our educational experiences, and it must continue to be a part of our philanthropy. We are so blessed to be living in an age where we can celebrate Israel’s 75th and still live free as a vibrant Jewish community in a city like Atlanta. Let’s continue to build and strengthen this bridge in every way that we can, and let’s come back here as often as we can.  

Eric M. Robbins is the President and CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

Federation shared our support for the suspension of Judicial Overhaul Legislation in Israel

By Global News

In response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that he would delay a vote on judicial reforms in order to seek compromise, the Jewish Federations of North America released the following statement alongside the Conference of Presidents, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee.

“We welcome the Israeli government’s suspension of legislative consideration of judicial reform measures.

“The last three months have been painful to watch and yet a textbook case of democracy in action. We respect the political leaders, business executives, community activists, cultural figures, and ordinary Israelis who took to the streets, exercising their love of country, and their passion for democracy.

“As a next step, we encourage all Knesset factions, coalition and opposition alike, to use this time to build a consensus that includes the broad support of Israeli civil society.

“Israel’s political leaders must insist on a more respectful tone and debate. A hallmark of democracy is public consensus and mutual consideration.

“The Conference of Presidents, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish Federations of North America will continue to confer with Israel’s governmental and civic leaders to ensure that the views of American Jewry are represented in the discussion. We are confident the resilience of Israeli democracy will successfully overcome the tremendous challenges it faces.”

Amplify Israel Spring 2022 Project: Books with Jewish Representation

By JumpSpark

When a person thinks about Judaism represented in literature,they often think of Holocaust books. Many of these books are incredible and definite must-reads. However, sometimes we could all use a more modern Jewish story that focuses on more than the mistreatment of our people. For this project, we decided to compile a diverse list of books featuring Jewish characters in a modern-day society. We all deserve to see ourselves represented, and this is a good way to do so.

  • My Year Zero

By Rachel Gold

This book is about a love triangle, and one of the characters is Jewish 

  • Dancing at the Pity Party

By Tyler Feder, 

In this graphic novel, the main character tells her story ten years after her mother’s death. She is also Jewish and writes about her experiences.

  • You Asked for Perfect

By Laura Sliverman

The main character, Ariel Stone, is Jewish.

  • Books by Becky Albertalli
    • Becky is a Jewish author who features Jewish themes and character is her books. 
    • Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda series and spinoffs (Upside especially), all have diverse representation of Jews of all races, genders, sexualities, etc.
    • What If It’s Us series
    • Kate in Waiting
  • Fever King (series)
    • By Victoria Lee
    • Two of the main characters are Jewish

Other books we have heard of:

  • Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
  • As If on Cue by marissa kanter
  • Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow  by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • It’s a Whole Spiel- anthology of Jewish stories

A Day in a Life as an Israeli Teenager

By JumpSpark

Hi! My name is Oria Yosef, I’m 11th grader and I live in Yokneam Illit. 

My day starts at school at 8:30 and sometimes I study on zoom. My two majors are physics and biology. After school ends at 15:30 I’m going home. I eat lunch, rest a little bit, then I do my homework. When there is a test coming us soon, I study for it. 

I volunteer at MDA (Magen David Adom, an emergency organization in Israel). I’m also a guide in the scouts.

I like to read books, listen to music, dance, going shopping, design clothes, and travel in Israel and abroad. Now that I’m in 11th grade, there isn’t a lot of time to do all these things because there are many tests (for example, Bagrut exams). I used to dance twice a week, but because of school I stopped dancing and hope to get back to it really soon.

I also like to spend time with my friends, we like to go out , places like restaurants, and the movies when we can. When the day ends, I like to watch a tv show or a movie before I go to sleep.

Amplify Israel: Teen Music Playlist 2022

By JumpSpark

Our project is to show each other what songs we like as well as songs that will represent our countries and their cultures. We decided to make a playlist: 5 songs from each country. Click here to listen to our PLAYLIST now!

Han Ben Hari – Wikipedia

This song is talk about how people are bullying some race, and this song is telling to stop it.

חנן בן ארי הודף את הביקורת נגדו | ערוץ 7

Abba – Dancing Queen :

The song was released in September 1975 as one of the 7 singles from the band’s third studio album titled ABBA. It is known in a famous American musical Mamma Mia, which has both been on Broadway as well as made into a movie!

Mamma Mia! The ABBA Club Night | The List

Moshe Peretz – Flight 5325

This song talks about how exciting it is to fly for the first time on a plane with someone you love.

Stream משה פרץ - טיסה 5325 by MANDILO | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Eagles – Hotel California

The song tells the story of a weary traveler who stumbles upon a night hotel, which for the first time seems inviting and tempting. The song became known as an allegory of hedonism and self-destruction in the Southern California music industry in the late 1970s. While it is definitely a “dad” song, it is a classic to Americans

Eagles - Hotel California - YouTube

Omer Adam – I thank:

The song talks about thanking God and how He gives us every day opportunities to live a better life and in general gives us the opportunity to live

עומר אדם - מודה אני - YouTube

Marvin Gaye – Ain’t no Mountain High Enough:

The song was written by Ashford and Simpson before joining Motown. British soul singer Dusty Springfield. It speaks of a tale of a man experiencing New York for the first time, and not letting anything stand in the way of his dream, which represents the idea of the “American Dream”.

שלוש שנים אחרי שמרווין גיי הוציא את השיר, דיאנה רוס הפכה אותו ללהיט ענק  באמת - חדר ניתוח - הארץ

Ethnics – A desert bird:

Included in the band’s debut album (bearing her name), released in 1990

אתניקס - ציפור מדבר - YouTube

Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline:

Sweet Caroline “is a song written and performed by American singer Neil Diamond and released in May 1969 as a single titled” Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good), popular at events, football games, and just hangin out with friends, it is another classic!

Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline (1978, Vinyl) - Discogs

Mishina – Night train to Cairo:

The song was inspired by the song “Night Boat to Cairo” (Night Boat to Cairo) by the British ska-pop band Madness, which served as a major source of inspiration for Mishina in its infancy, from its debut album (1979). The song Night Train drew its melody and style from the song Night Boat to Cairo, but the lyrics are very different.

משינה - רכבת לילה לקהיר - YouTube

Empire State Of Mind:

The song is a song of praise for New York, the hometown of the two artists. For many, it is used as a workout song, specifically a PR song, as it has a good rhythm and overall just gives good vibes. 

Empire State of Mind - Wikipedia


midtown alliance - jewish atlanta

Lupercalia Celebration

By JumpSpark

At my school, I’m taking Latin as a language and I’m in the club for it called JCL. (Junior classical League(Otherwise known as Latin Club). Recently we had an event called Lupercalia, basically Rome’s Valentine’s day. At the event, I got to do a Gladiator battle with one of my friends and perform with another one of my friends. 

I got to put together a costume for the gladiator battle so I had to first find some inspiration. Finding inspiration was hard because there were very few female gladiators. Luckily I was able to get an idea of how I wanted the costume to look. The next step was finding the pieces. The first thing I did was go to Goodwill to see if they had anything that could work as gladiator costumes or any props. In the end, I found a shirt and a skirt. I later found out the skirt had built-in shorts and pockets. Score! The next step was to create a helmet and wrist cuffs, so I headed off to the interwebs to look for a how-to video. I found one relatively quickly and got to work. After a lot of cutting cardboard and duck taping, I had a pretty snazzy-looking helmet and wrist cuffs. After that, I used some silver spray paint that I had leftover from my Halloween costume to make the pieces look like metal. Then I used some watered-down acrylic paint to make the pieces look withered and used. Finally, I added a shawl that I used to wrap the costume together. 

Finally, the day arrived, Monday, February 14, 2022, and after putting my costume on I started on my makeup. For the makeup, I did a scar down one side of my face and another one on my lip. After a little help from one of my friends, the scar looked pretty realistic. Sadly I didn’t get very many photos of the costume or the makeup. 

The first gladiator battle was the one I was in and it started with me and my friend. He used a trident and I used two swords. (our teacher was worried that we would end up hitting each other with the sword so hard that either we would get hurt or break the sword, but in the end, everything was ok) The gladiator battle ends with me laying on the ground after my leg has been chopped off. Then my friend pretended to cut off my arm and step over me and revel in his triumph. As he was reveling in his triumph, I stood up, only using one leg and one arm, And stabbed him in the back. I then proceeded to say “consumsit stercum” which is a not-so-nice way to say eat poop in Latin. 

After the gladiator battles, there were performances where one of my other friends and I proceeded to do a musical song. After that, we later lead a sing-along with the songs everyone in Latin uses to help them memorize the endings of things like verbs and nouns. In between our acts, this band played some covers of songs and dang were they good! Later there was a fake roman wedding followed by a group dance called Zorba. It was basically like the hora, but there were no chairs and the pace kept speeding up. It got so fast that people started falling over left and right. Overall it was a pretty fun experience and I hope I get to do it again next year! 

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