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JumpSpark Breaks New Ground in Second Year of Strong Women Fellowship

By JumpSpark

Jumpspark’s Strong Women Fellowship, an empowering educational cohort for Jewish teens in grades 9-12, has more than doubled in size and expanded programming to feature a leadership track, 9 neighborhood community groups, and more connection to Israel through a partnership with the Jewish Federation of Atlanta’s Shinshinim program. The 59 fellows participating in 2019-20 represent 18 high schools and 17 synagogues from the Atlanta metro.

The 2019-20 Strong Women fellows. Note: some participants not pictured.

The Strong Women Fellowship, launched in fall 2018 with an initial cohort of 28 teens, provides unparalleled access to strong women leaders, thinkers and voices shaping their world. Each month fellows meet guest speakers, build relationships in neighborhood community groups, and grapple with the issues facing young women. The program is funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, and the Jim Joseph Foundation.

After her experience in the fellowship last year, Tamar Guggenheim said, “I grew as a woman and became a stronger and prouder Jewish woman, too. Women across the globe have been using their voices to advocate for what they believe in, and through this fellowship, I too, have been given tools to do the same in my Jewish community and hopefully across the world.”

Dr. Tarece Johnson

Monthly guests include local female Jewish professionals and leaders, as well as national leaders and influencers, that speak on relevant topics such as women in politics, diet culture, mental health, representation of Jewish women of color, and more. Guests this year include Lindy Miller (business woman and former GA Public Service Commission candidate), Whitney Fisch, MSW (Jewhungry blogger and teen advocate), Dr. Tarece Johnson (author, activist, and multicultural expert), and more. For the full itinerary, visit

With the help of Rachel Alterman Wallack of VOX ATL, Atlanta’s home for uncensored teen publishing and self-expression, JumpSpark has developed a robust Peer Leader program offering returning fellows leadership roles, tailored training and group facilitation resources, event planning experience, and resume-building skills and opportunities.

The 2019-20 Peer Leaders include:

Peer Leaders at training in 2019 with Rachel Alterman Wallack.
  • Mya Artzi
  • Téa Barton
  • Emma Cohen
  • Lauren Cohn
  • Rachel Cohn
  • Sydney Fox
  • Maya Laufer
  • Stella Mackler
  • Macy Mannheimer
  • Emma Nowitz
  • Moira Poh
  • Lilah Presser
  • Lulu Rosenberg
  • Zoe Rosenberg
  • Lexi Silberman
  • Lili Stadler
  • Abigail Ventimiglia
  • Rene Walter

The 2019-20 Strong Women fellows are (*denotes returning participant):

  • Lila Arnold, Lakeside HS c/o 2022
  • Mya Artzi*, North Springs Charter HS c/o 2020
  • Aura Avrunin, Capstone Academy c/o 2022
  • Téa Barton*, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2021
  • Hailey Bayer, Dunwoody HS c/o 2022
  • Eva Beresin, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2023
  • Mollie Binderman, North Springs HS c/o 2023
  • Rachel Binderman, The Weber School c/o 2022
  • Emma Cohen*, Woodward Academy c/o 2022
  • Morgan Cohen, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2021
  • Lauren Cohn*, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2021
  • Rachel Cohn*, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2021
  • Gabby Cope, Lakeside HS c/o 2023
  • Sarah Dowling, The Lovett School c/o 2022
  • Sydney Fox, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2020
  • Alexa Freedman, The Galloway School c/o 2022
  • Ruby Frohman, Dunwoody HS c/o 2023
  • Marissa Goodman*, Pace Academy c/o 2022
  • Tamar Guggenheim*, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2022
  • Julia Harris, Dunwoody HS c/o 2023
  • Amelia Heller, The Weber School c/o 2023
  • Emma Hurwitz, Johns Creek HS c/o 2023
  • Katie Hurwitz*, Johns Creek HS c/o 2021
  • Kayla Jacobs, Pope HS c/o 2021
  • Sara Jacobs, Johns Creek HS c/o 2023
  • Rebecca Kann*, Pace Academy c/o 2022
  • Phoebe Kaplan, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2023
  • Sophie Kieffer, The Galloway School c/o 2020
  • Nicole Khalifa, Atlanta Shinshinim
  • Maya Laufer*, Dunwoody HS c/o 2022
  • Annie Levy, The Galloway School c/o 2022
  • Stella Mackler*, Grady HS c/o 2022
  • Macy Mannheimer*, Milton HS c/o 2021
  • Kira Mermelstein, Atlanta Jewish Academy c/o 2021
  • Emma Nowitz*, North Springs HS c/o 2022
  • Moira Poh*, North Springs HS c/o 2022
  • Lilah Presser*, The Weber School c/o 2021
  • Ariel Raggs*, Chamblee Charter HS c/o 2021
  • Miriam Raggs, The Weber School c/o 2023
  • Lulu Rosenberg*, North Springs HS c/o 2022
  • Skylar Rosenberg, Lakeside HS c/o 2023
  • Zoe Rosenberg*, North Springs HS c/o 2020
  • Jenna Sailor, Dunwoody HS c/o 2023
  • Peyton Schwartz, Pope HS c/o 2023
  • Blair Seigle, Dunwoody HS c/o 2023
  • Lily Shulimson, North Oconee HS c/o 2023
  • Zoe Siegel*, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2022
  • Lexi Silberman*, Dunwoody HS c/o 2020
  • Hannah Sokolik, Dunwoody HS c/o 2021
  • Lili Stadler*, The Weber School c/o 2021
  • Lily Stoumen*, Riverwood Int’l School c/o 2021
  • Abigail Ventimiglia*, N. Gwinnett HS c/o 2020
  • Rene Walter*, Dunwoody HS c/o 2021
  • Yael Weber, Atlanta Shinshinim
  • Rachel Winner, North Springs HS c/o 2023
  • Anna Wynne*, Pope HS c/o 2020
  • Noa Young, North Springs HS c/o 2023
  • Audrey Zeff, Grady HS c/o 2023
  • Alex Zelcer, Woodward Academy c/o 2021

JumpSpark, Atlanta’s hub for Jewish teen innovation and engagement, connects and invests in the community to create more meaningful and defining moments for Jewish teens in Atlanta. Serving teens, their parents, and educators that work with teens, JumpSpark offers empowering teen programs, Navigating Parenthood workshops, professional development, and grants. JumpSpark is supported as an innovation initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, by the Jim Joseph Foundation, and by generous donors in the community.

Conquering Confidence: Practice Makes Perfect

By JumpSpark

Nadia Bilchik is an editorial producer for CNN. Before she came to speak to us, I honestly didn’t even know who she was. After hearing what she had to say, I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.

Katie Hurwitz

Feeling somewhat anxious in certain situations is a common feeling for me and for so many others. Teen anxiety is higher than it ever has been. Whether it’s severe or not, it can make little things like raising your hand to speak in class or talking to new people so much harder than they should be.

I work myself up so easily about many things, making it hard for me to try new things. It sometimes takes some convincing to get me to go to large events and new places. I’ve always wished I didn’t have to live with any worries, so, when I saw the topic for the meeting, I was very curious. I went into the meeting not sure what to expect, and came out of it with knowledge I didn’t know was available.

Nadia Bilchik on CNN

Bilchik explained that she had created a four-step guide on how to conquer and calm your nerves before doing something that is out of your comfort zone. The first thought that came to my mind is that this meeting is perfect for me! She went on to explain each of these steps.

1. Think of happy past moments

2. Show interest

3. Breathing exercises

4. Show energy

They include: thinking of happy past moments, showing interest in the topic at hand, doing breathing exercises, and showing energy. The first is pretty self explanatory: think of memories that make you happy and hold onto them to take your mind off of the worrying. It was interesting to hear everyone’s happy moments.

The second involves a tactic of not using “I” statements. We did an exercise where we had to have a conversation with someone else and could use only questions in response to our partner. This gives the person that you are talking to reassurance that they have your full interest and attention.

Katie applying the 4 steps to confidence

The third step to calm nerves is all about breathing. Taking deep breaths is a way of refreshing your mind and body. It helps slow and control your heart rate and it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.

The last step is to show energy and engage in the conversation. You can show energy simply by standing up straight and putting a smile on your face. This shows confidence and makes you approachable. Bringing up topics that you and whoever you are talking to are both interested in is a great way to engage another person. This helps the conversation flow. With practice, all of this combined will eventually allow you to be able to comfortably start conversations with anyone.

Since this meeting, I already have and will definitely continue to use this process a lot throughout my life. I am overjoyed that Nadia Bilchik shared her wisdom with me and my fellow strong women. •

Consent and Identity: The Importance of Knowing Myself

By JumpSpark

Rachel Cohn

Coming into this meeting with the poet Caroline Rothstein about consent, I was prepared to have a difficult discussion about the reality of sexual abuse and rape culture. However, this meeting with Caroline pleasantly surprised me. We learned that you cannot give your consent to something without fully knowing who you are as a person.

Caroline speaking to the Strong Women

Caroline told us her struggles with finding her own identity in the form of beautiful poems. She spoke about the hardships she faced every day and the struggles with being a woman in society today. She spoke poetry about sexual abuse and her difficult eating disorder.

Caroline Rothstein

However, to me, the most noteworthy poem was about how despite all these burdens, she still showed up on the other side a strong woman who knew her strong identity. The words Caroline said truly spoke to me and it felt as though she knew me better than I knew myself. I was on the edge of my seat just wanting her to keep chanting about what she was passionate about, for I was also passionate about the same things.


After that, we had the opportunity to write our own poetry and I found it much easier than I anticipated. Our poems were about being Jewish and women or about being a Jewish woman. I had so much to say and found it inspiring that everyone else did as well. It was comforting to be in a room full of people who have the same beliefs and values as I do.

While I came into this meeting eager to learn about consent, I ended up learning more about identity and the importance it plays in knowing whether or not to give consent to something. Caroline was extremely empowering and I was grasping onto every last word she said. Although this meeting went much differently than expected, I am so grateful for that because what we talked about in this meeting, identity, and being a Jewish woman, are all so important to me and things that I will never stop caring about.


Woman Undefined

By JumpSpark

Lili Stadler

Whenever prompted with the topic of sexuality and gender identification, I had never thought twice. I would simply brush off the subject since I had always been confident in who I was and who I felt that I was: a girl. I always thought that was a confusing conversation topic, thinking that there was not much to discuss. More clearly said, sexuality was always something simple to me. When preparing for the conversation of gender and sexuality with Dr. Joy Ladin and my peers of the Strong Women Fellowship, I did not believe my thoughts would change. But, seeing different perspectives and hearing the struggles and stories of my peers completely altered what being a “man” or “women” could be.

When you look up the word “woman” in the dictionary, you will find the definition, “an adult human female” or “a wife, girlfriend, or lover”, plus other varieties of that nature. But, I have realized that the dictionary definition of this word barely scratches the surface of what being a woman actually means.

When finishing her empowering story of bravery and transition, Dr. Joy Ladin prompted me and my peers with a question: “What was your experience of growing up as a girl?” To my surprise, the majority of responses to the question, including mine, were negative. We discussed in our conversation the topics that us, as teenage girls in the modern world, face, most of which were feelings of adversity and fear. A few examples included memories of my peers’ parents telling them to change because they were “showing too much”, them getting dress code violations for their bra straps and thighs showing, and their constant fear of slut shaming.

“What was your experience growing up as a girl?”

To my surprise, the majority of responses to the question, including mine, were negative.

Hearing these things, at first, made me feel comforted that I was not the only one who had gone through these things. But, after a while of discussion, I realized how negative this conversation was. I knew we all love being women, but the growing sense of negativity made me feel unsettled. From here, the conversation unintentionally turned into one about what it means to be a woman.

Joy started off this conversation with the topic of gender versus sexuality. She explained to us that these two things do not need to go hand in hand, nor do they have the same connotation to every individual. Once again, this was something I had never thought about before, so my mindset was transformed. I realized that all of those negative memories of growing up a girl made up who we had become. With further discussion, I was inspired that gender and sexuality are not as simple as I thought, and that two people with totally different experiences of being a women could still be defined as one.

We should not be defined by who we are categorized to be, but who we feel we are.

The beauty of the hardships of growing up in fear and shame is that we learn to overcome it and hopefully become who we feel we are inside. The story of Dr. Ladin, although completely unique to the stories of everyone participating in the conversation, led us to the conclusion that being a woman and growing up as a woman can be defined in an infinite amount of ways. We should not be defined by who we are categorized to be, but who we feel we are. •

Strong Women Fellowship: For the Love of Pizza and Chris Hemsworth

By JumpSpark

Meeting the refugees from the Global Village Project was an amazing experience.

Rene Walter

When I had first arrived I wasn’t sure what to expect or who I would be meeting. I stepped into the room where all the girls were and saw teenagers sitting in chairs talking to my friends acting normal and telling jokes.

As I went to sit down and join in on the conversation I greeted everyone with a warm smile and a friendly greeting. Upon getting to know the girls and hearing their stories I realized I could relate to them on many levels. Then once we did the activity where we all listed things we have in common i realized there were a lot more things I hadn’t realized, like that we all didn’t like school and all loved pizza and Chris Hemsworth.

This overall experience was eye opening for me and I realized that just because these girls are from different parts of the world, we are all connected and similar in one way or another. I left that school with so many new friendships and so many new values to take with me. •

Finding Connections As We Change The World

By JumpSpark

Every generation is controlled by the constant increasing pressure to change the world.

Millenials are constantly reminding us, Generation Z, that we are the ones that can make the biggest difference, not only for the present but also in the future. Although, changing the world seems like a pretty big task for a teenager. How are we supposed to do this? Where do we even start? Who is going to help me? So many questions and so many steps go into figuring out a way to change the world. But I have found the key, the first step to changing the world.

Make a connection. This may seem way too simple to be the key to changing the world but it is. The connection is the most important factor in the process of changing the world.

Mya Artzi

In our December Jumpspark Strong Women’s Fellowship › meeting, we met teen refugee girls from many different countries. This was absolutely amazing to me. We met them at the Global Village Project › , an organization that brings teen refugees together in order to prepare them for American high school. As I sat in the classroom, listening to 40 different girls close to my age from all over the world, I noticed that although we come from so many  different backgrounds, we are all more similar than I could have ever imagined. We are all girls who are active on social media, who love Rihanna, who love a snow day, and who are just trying to get through high school. The conversation came easy and the laughter flowed throughout the room. Our connection was strong. Together, we felt more powerful than any comment, stare, judgement, or slur a person could say about our race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.

At the beginning of the program, we played a brief game to introduce ourselves to the group. Every JumpSpark member was paired with a refugee. As we went around the room introducing our partners, I sat in awe of the number of teens I was able to meet from so many different countries; countries like Rwanda, Congo, Malaysia, Afghanistan, and Syria. Syria. Wow. I am a Jew and the girl sitting in the table next to me is Syrian. I am officially and fully engaged, excited, and overwhelmed in such a good way, and ready to change the world.

My connection with Israel is a part of who I am. I have learned about the importance of my homeland since I was a young child, and my passion drove me abroad just last year as I attended high school in Israel for two months. This brief two-month journey during my sophomore year changed my life. I learned so much about Israel from its early history to current issues. One of Israel’s main issues right now is its relationship with Syria. The ongoing controversy and battles in war and in ethics between the countries has continued to increase over the years. It is a constant battle between the territories, the people, and the resources and it never seems to end. The only way to end this is to create peace, but how will we create peace if Israelis and Syrians won’t talk to each other? Because of the lack of connection between the people of both countries, to the people of each place, it seems that there is there is nothing to lose.

So this is where we as Gen Zers can step in. We are in charge of building those connections in hopes of one day possibly ending the fight. Today, 20 Jewish girls were able to make connections with three Syrian girls. The conversations we shared had nothing to do with our ethnicity, race, or religion. The conversations were solely based on our numerous, easily discovered commonalities, and we are were elated, surprised and thankful for our newfound friendships.  Others might not have felt it as much as I did, but I believe that with this program we took a first step in changing the world. •

Self-Expression and the Confidence to Make Change

By JumpSpark

Our second meeting for the Strong Women Fellowship was centered around self-expression, in which we also discussed female and youth empowerment.

As teenage girls, all of us who attended have struggled with expressing our true selves at some point, whether that be religion, sexuality, political beliefs, looks, etc.

Anna Wynne

Before we went to the book talk to hear Emma Gray › and Alison Yarrow › speak, we got to have a more intimate conversation with Emma. When we talked to Emma, we got to learn about her life and how she got to where she is today as a senior editor at The Huffington Post. It was really cool for me to get to know someone like her on a more personal level, rather than just knowing of her as someone who has this amazing job and has published an amazing book.

She was able to give us advice about how it is okay to not know what you want to be when you’re a teenager and how even being a camp counselor through college rather than participating in fancy internships is okay, because no matter what, you’ll be able to figure out who you are, what you want to do, and find your place in society. I feel like that advice spoke to me and the other Strong Women fellows very personally, as many of us attend summer camp and want to be able to work on staff at those camps, but are often told that in the later years of college, you should be focusing on your career rather than being a camp counselor; Emma is living proof that doing things you enjoy before becoming a full time adult is completely okay.

If I don’t help to make change, then who will?


After talking to Emma about her life, book, and favorite Netflix shows, we got to  have our own intimate conversation about being heard in society as young, Jewish women. During our conversation, I learned that I share a lot of common ground with the other fellows and feel even more connected to them now.

At the book talk that we attended after our other activities, I felt like I got to be at an in-person podcast. I learned so much about empowering myself and others, feminism today and where it originally started many years ago, and about what I can do to get my voice heard. The facts, opinions, and humor that Emma and Alison shared during the program led me to realize I’m not alone in what I believe in. No one is, really. It made me realize that I can help to make change right now and don’t have to wait until I’m able to vote. It made me realize that this nation is forever evolving and I need to celebrate all the little victories that I experience every day because it’s those that help to make a difference one day. If I don’t help to make change, who will?

It made me realize just how important young voices are, because my voice, the other Strong Women fellows’ voices, and youth voices every where are the voices of tomorrow. I left our meeting last night more empowered than I have felt in a long time and I feel as though I now have more confidence to express my true self and hope to instill that confidence in those around me. •


2019 Strong Women cohort with author Emma Gray

JumpSpark Announces Inaugural Cohort of Strong Women Fellowship

By JumpSpark

Jumpspark is proud to welcome 30 female-identifying Jewish teens in grades 9-12 representing 13 high schools and 9 synagogues in metro Atlanta to the inaugural cohort of the Strong Women Fellowship. The Strong Women: Know Them, Be Them Fellowship is a glass-ceiling shattering, educational cohort providing female-identifying Jewish teens in Atlanta with unparalleled access to strong women leaders, thinkers and voices shaping the world we live in today. Each month fellows will meet speakers, tour Atlanta organizations, and engage in relevant and empowering learning that speaks to what it means to be a woman in 2018, helps young women grapple with the obstacles they face, and prepares them to be the leaders they can be today and in the future.

Monthly guests include local female Jewish professionals and rabbis, as well as national female leaders. On October 23rd, Rachel Alterman Wallack, MSW, Founder and Mission Director of VOX ATL, will facilitate the orientation and initial meeting of the cohort. In November, in partnership with the Book Festival at the MJCCA, fellows will meet female Jewish authors Allison Yarrow and Emma Gray to learn how they authentically share their stories. In January, in partnership with SOJOURN, the cohort will explore identity, gender, and sexual diversity with Dr. Joy Ladin, professor at Stern College of Yeshiva University and nationally recognized speaker on transgender issues. For the full itinerary, visit

Applicants for the fellowship were asked to answer four essay questions: “Who is a Strong Woman you consider a role model and why?”, “What do you think is one of the main issues facing women today?”, What do you hope to gain by participating in this fellowship?”, and “What will you bring to this learning cohort requiring active participation and input from all members?”. The thoughtful answers submitted by the 30 young women that were accepted demonstrate intelligence and unique perspectives of various backgrounds, regions, and affiliations, representing the diverse Atlanta Jewish community.

The 2019 cohort members include:

  • Mya Artzi, North Springs Charter High School, Class of 2020
  • Lula Barracano, Decatur High School, Class of 2022
  • Téa Barton, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2021
  • Meredith Berger, Pope High School, Class of 2019
  • Emma Cohen, Woodward Academy, Class of 2022
  • Lauren Cohn, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2021
  • Rachel Cohn, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2021
  • Samantha Fitch, Woodward Academy, Class of 2020
  • Aiden Fladell, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2022
  • Sydney Fox, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2019
  • Marissa Goodman, Pace Academy, Class of 2022
  • Tamar Guggenheim, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2022
  • Katie Hurwitz, Johns Creek High School, Class of 2021
  • Rebecca Kann, Pace Academy, Class of 2022
  • Maya Laufer, Dunwoody High School, Class of 2022
  • Stella Mackler, Grady High School, Class of 2022
  • Macy Mannheimer, Milton High School, Class of 2021
  • Emma Nowitz, North Springs Charter High School, Class of 2022
  • Moira Poh, North Springs Charter High School, Class of 2022
  • Lilah Presser, The Weber School, Class of 2021
  • Ariel Raggs, Chamblee Charter High School, Class of 2021
  • Lulu Rosenberg, North Springs Charter High School, Class of 2022
  • Zoe Rosenberg, North Springs Charter High School, Class of 2020
  • Zoe Siegel, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2022
  • Lexi Silberman, Dunwoody High School, Class of 2020
  • Lili Stadler, The Weber School, Class of 2021
  • Lily Stoumen, Riverwood International Charter School, Class of 2021
  • Abigail Ventimiglia, North Gwinnett High School, Class of 2020
  • Rene Walter, Dunwoody High School, Class of 2021
  • Anna Wynne, Pope High School, Class of 2020

The Strong Women Fellowship aims to connect female-identifying Jewish teens with a local cohort community that values justice, equality, and girl power while equipping them with valuable leadership skills and resumé-building experience. The fellowship receives local support as an innovation initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, with additional grant funding for the fellowship from the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, and national funding from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

JumpSpark, Atlanta’s initiative for Jewish teen engagement, connects teens through immersive, interest-based experiences inspired by a Jewish lens. JumpSpark invests in teens and their ecosystem through resumé-building programs and social events, the “Navigating Parenthood” workshop series for parents of teens, JumpSpark Professional development and networking for youth educators, and community partnerships to boost collaboration and innovation. JumpSpark, one of ten communities in the Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative, receives local support as an innovation initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and national funding from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

To learn more about JumpSpark visit

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