Foundation Focus

June 2024 Foundation Focus

By June 26, 2024July 12th, 2024No Comments

This month we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, which translates to “weeks” in Hebrew. Shavuot marks the end of the counting of the Omer, the 49-day or 7-week period starting on the second night of Passover, and recounts the moment on Mt. Sinai in which Moses receives the Torah.  

The reception of the Torah was a pivotal moment in the exodus story and represented a new beginning for the Jewish people. In this month’s Foundation Focus, you will read about initiatives in our community that are focused on creating brighter futures, new beginnings, and fresh opportunities for change. 

We wish you a meaningful Shavuot and a beautiful summer season! 

Lindsay

Atlanta activist Joanna Kobylivker is the new Director of Adamah Atlanta, the Southeast chapter of North America’s largest Jewish environmental organization. By her own admission, Kobylivker is not a climate scientist, a homesteader, or someone with hard skills in environmental sustainability. She’s a mom, a pragmatist, and a proud Jewish woman who cherishes how our tradition respects the earth.  

Joanna walks the talk. She’s been a community organizer for Georgia Interfaith Power & Light (GIPL), which conducted low-cost energy audits for churches and synagogues and gave grants to help them improve their energy efficiency.  

During COVID, when her son’s elementary school switched to Styrofoam trays and disposable plasticware to save water, she did something about it. “Nobody uses Styrofoam anymore, I mean, not even McDonalds! Styrofoam leaches polystyrene, especially when used to serve hot food, like oatmeal at breakfast or chili at lunch. In 2019, APS used 8.4 million Styrofoam trays.” Kobylivker kept fighting and brought compostable cutlery and plates into her school.  

At her son’s bar mitzvah at Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI), there was recyclable tableware and composting of leftovers. Afterward, Kobylivker launched the congregation’s first sustainable Sukkot event. “People brought food to the sukkah and took their dishes home so there was no trash or food leftovers. I lifted up an orange peel and asked, ‘Do you know how long it would take for this peel to break down on the ground? About two weeks. In a landfill, it will petrify, rot, and produce toxic methane gas.”  

Today at CSI, there is always compostable tableware, and leftovers are routinely composted.  
 
Eventually, Joanna applied for a Propel Grant through Federation to keep the GIPL work and other sustainability initiatives going in Atlanta. Through Federation CEO Eric Robbins, she learned about the merger of two existing Jewish environmental organizations, Hazon and Adamah into one.  

“The merger seemed like a great opportunity to affiliate with Adamah and bring that work to Atlanta. They have wonderful resources in outdoor education, all with a climate focus. We now offer a full menu of educational classes for synagogues, day schools, and camps. At our honey-making workshop, the kids were so into it!  It’s wonderful to reconnect people with nature — this is a big part of who we are as Jews, with all our agricultural holidays.” 

“What drives me is pure pragmatism as well as respect for land. And it all aligns with being Jewish,” Joanna believes. “Historically, Jews are problem solvers – we’re the people who make the desert bloom, who build pop-up hospitals in a time of war, who use drip irrigation and desalinated water. We have to be a loud, proud voice for caring about the earth. To me, sustainability and climate activism honor God and our children.” 

Through Adamah, Federation has just signed on to be part of The Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition — a network of Jewish community organizations that recognize the existential threat and moral urgency of climate change and commit to taking action. By working together, the impacts of individual organizations will be amplified, rippling throughout networks, neighborhoods, and beyond.  

Please consider making a gift to Adamah Atlanta through your Donor-Advised Fund. 

Currently, Federation’s Partners Fund, which supports more than 70 community organizations and partner agencies, is just shy of meeting its annual fundraising goal of $16M.  

Annie Garrett, Federation’s Senior Director of Planning, is a professional who is immersed in our programs and allocations process, and sees the community impact of Partners Fund every day. 

“Partners Fund sustains all the great work we do in Atlanta and Israel. It is the lifeblood of our Jewish ecosystem. Partners Fund touches all ages and responds to so many needs. In a diverse community like Atlanta, this funding enables Jewish education, bolsters identity building, and serves our vulnerable populations. In a time when the Jewish people feel attacked and marginalized, our allocations protect, support, and strengthen the entire community. 

This year, Federation offered a Special Grants initiative, which gave allocations committees the discretion to invest an extra $50K to meet important needs. Partner organizations were asked to submit proposals, and many applied,” said Annie. 

“The pandemic revealed how important mental health services are, especially for teens and young adults who were isolated from their peers. With JF&CS as our lead agency, Partners Fund has substantially expanded counseling and mental health services.

We also approved a grant to build resilience and social skills in young children. In a collaboration between the Marcus Jewish Community Center (MJCCA) and Jewish Family and Career Services (JF&CS), clinicians offered play therapy to preschoolers at the MJCCA, along with teacher and parent coaching, to help children build resilience, emotional regulation, and stronger social skills.” 

In addition, J-Screen, Atlanta’s pioneering Jewish genetic screening organization (formerly funded by Federation’s Innovation initiative), is now moving into the Partners Fund domestic portfolio.  

“Atlanta is a remarkably inclusive, innovative, and diverse Jewish community. We are blessed with community volunteers who review programs and recommend allocations, bring their expertise in education, camping, economic development, mental health, and special needs to The Partners Fund. They are passionate about this work.” 

Help sustain the work of more than 70 community organizations by donating to

Partners Fund via your Donor-Advised Fund today.

ReGrow ReGrow Israel was established days after the October 7th attacks by Israeli farmers, NGOs, and agricultural experts and is supported by global leaders. The kibbutzim and moshavim farming communities in the Western Negev are responsible for producing the nation’s food and pioneering climate-resilient technologies for the world. It is the only fund ready to act immediately to restore the damage and grow back stronger for the future.

Metro Atlanta Urban Farm We are a certified naturally grown farm and community-driven organization that provides training, education, and support services for youth, adults, and seniors interested in transforming their lives and communities through agriculture. Our overarching goal is to create sustainable urban agriculture while building stronger communities. It is through this medium we will create health and economic empowerment zones while providing accessible, high-quality, low-cost produce.

Global Growers Network Global Growers Network partners with people from diverse cultures to grow fresh food for their families and for local marketplaces. Together, we build and sustain networks of growers, land, resources, and markets in order to create a more equitable food system that is driven by cultural diversity, inclusive economies, and regenerative agriculture practices.

Federation Women’s Journey to Morocco

November 5 – 13, 2024

LEARN MORE HERE

SAVE THE DATE!

Community Conversations

November 13

More details to come soon.