40 Under 40: Jennifer (Jenn) Handel
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40 Under 40: Jennifer (Jenn) Handel

Jenn is the Director of Israel Education, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

Jenn Handel
Jenn Handel

Handel earned her bachelor’s from SUNY Cortland, secondary social studies education, and master’s from Stony Brook University Liberal Arts.

Having arrived in Atlanta in January 2022 from Long Island, N.Y., Jenn has had the privilege of working with Atlanta’s Schoenbaum Shinshinim. These 18-year-old Israelis are recent high school grads volunteering in the Jewish community for a year before returning home for their military service. The shinshinim volunteer in over 30 Jewish organizations around Atlanta and Jenn has had the opportunity to explore and get to know the Jewish community through their eyes. From synagogues to Jewish clubs, day schools to Hillel, Jenn has loved meeting so many people and settling in to make Atlanta home. She’s had the opportunity to volunteer at LimmudFest 2022 and go back to camp at Trybal Gatherings Southeast this past May.

When not playing mom, or cool aunt to the Shinshinim, Jenn can be found hanging out with her awesome four-legged side kick, Bamba. He’s become the apple of Jenn’s eye and the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a former Hillel professional, Jenn has loved meeting former colleagues and new ones across the Atlanta community and is proud to continue representing bacon-cheeseburger Jews and the power of embracing one’s own authentic Judaism.

“Having spent the last decade working in the Jewish world through Hillel, Birthright and now Federation, I’m incredibly proud of the journey that has given me the chance to recognize and embrace my authentic Judaism,” she said. “Having grown up unaffiliated and leaning more into my Judaism in my early 20’s, I’ve battled the feeling of being ‘not enough’ when it comes to Jewish spaces. Now, I am proud to be exactly the Jewish adult I am and being able to help my students embrace their own authentic Judaism.

“Being recognized in this way is empowering that Judaism is more than observant, more than day school and synagogue, more than Jewish sleepaway…it’s an opportunity to elevate the journey that Judaism is for so many of us and recognizing that Judaism is a beautiful spectrum of diversity, both in opinion and belief. It means that I am Jewish enough exactly as I am.”

Handel has a 10-pound mini poodle named “Bamba.”

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