Chabad of Smyrna-Vinings Reaches Out
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Chabad of Smyrna-Vinings Reaches Out

Chabad is expanding in the Smyrna-Vinings area to meet the demands of a growing community.

(From left) Smyrna councilman Tim Gould, Smyrna police chief Keith Zgonc, Smyrna Mayor Derek Norton and his son with Rabbi Avremel Zaltzman before the menorah lighting at Taylor-Brawner Park.
(From left) Smyrna councilman Tim Gould, Smyrna police chief Keith Zgonc, Smyrna Mayor Derek Norton and his son with Rabbi Avremel Zaltzman before the menorah lighting at Taylor-Brawner Park.

As the Jewish community in Smyrna and Vinings continues to grow, Chabad is expanding along with them, committed to creating a warm, inclusive environment where people can connect, celebrate, and learn.

Rabbi Avremel and Mushky Zaltzman of Chabad of Smyrna-Vinings wanted to bring a sense of community to the Jewish residents of Smyrna and Vinings when they hosted the first public Chanukah menorah lighting for the area in December 2019 at Taylor-Brawner Park. Though their efforts were delayed by the pandemic shortly thereafter, the couple has since made up for lost time. Today, Chabad of Smyrna-Vinings has become a welcoming presence for the area’s Jewish community and a place to gather, participate and meet other people.

“Our records indicate there are about 2,000 or more Jewish households in Smyrna and Vinings. There is excitement about being part of an expanding Jewish community here. We are thrilled that our programs have been very well received, and people are happy to discover there are many other Jewish people in their neighborhoods,” said Rabbi Zaltzman

Rabbi Avremel and Mushky Zaltzman with their children, Yisrael and Miriam.

This fall, Chabad will sponsor a Rosh Hashanah experience in the Smyrna-Vinings area, with a shofar blowing, inspirational readings and lunch. For Sukkot, a mobile sukkah for home visits is planned, as well as a variety of gatherings in the sukkah at the Zaltzman home. There will be a “Steak and Scotch” dinner for the men and a “Sushi in the Sukkah” for the women. A hands-on craft session, music and circle time will also be held as part of the ongoing “Mommy and Me” programming.

“Mommy and Me events during the year have been especially popular among the young families in Smyrna and Vinings, as well as an excellent way for the mothers to connect with each other on a regular basis,” said Mushky, who also has two young children of her own. The program is open for mothers and their children, up to four years of age.

“Mommy and Me” circle time is a favorite among the mothers in Smyrna and Vinings.

The women’s programming, which also coincides with a number of Jewish holidays, is also a favorite among residents of the area. At the challah bake a few months ago, each participant received a specially designed apron, laminated challah mat with the recipe on the front, and set of pink and wooden utensils to take home. As the women mixed, rolled, and shaped their two loaves, Mushky shared details about the mitzvah of making challah and engaged with participants at each of four large tables. Other women’s events this year have included a “Champagne and Charcuterie” party for Shavuot, where attendees sipped champagne and ate gourmet cheeses while making charcuterie boards and “Menorahs and Martinis,” where martinis were served with dinner, followed by attendees making their own festive menorahs.

“I have met a number of really nice women at these events. The atmosphere is relaxed and perfect for getting to know other people. I always walk away having learned something, and Mushky and Rabbi Zaltzman are knowledgeable and inclusive,” said Karen Welsh, a Vinings resident and frequent participant.

The petting zoo was a hit among the children and parents at the Purim party.

Other happenings for the community have included “Cheesecake and Commandments,” a Shavuot dairy buffet dinner where participants learned lesser known, interesting facts about the Ten Commandments and a festive Purim party with a petting farm, face painting, a buffet dinner, and cocktails. And for residents interested in Torah study, Rabbi Zaltzman leads a weekly group focused on the Parsha of the week. He even teaches one-on-one if residents express an interest.

One of the most special parts of their outreach efforts, according to the Zaltzmans, are the connections and friendships they have made with many community members. “We love having people at our Shabbat dinners, getting to know each person a little better. Spending time with the families and individuals in our community has been priceless, and we hope to meet many more this coming year,” said Mushky.

Karen Welsh, here at “Champagne and Charcuterie,” displays her charcuterie board.

Jodi and Ken Danis have lived in the Heritage at Vinings subdivision in Smyrna for more than 20 years and are members of Etz Chaim synagogue. “We have enjoyed getting to know the Zaltzmans, and it is great to have local events, classes, and activities that we can get to easily. I did not have a strong religious upbringing, so I have personally enjoyed learning more by attending classes and events. My husband also enjoys the programs, and has been learning one-on-one with Rabbi Zaltzman,” said Jodi Danis.

The communities of Smyrna and Vinings have been a perfect setting for the Chabad programs. Rabbi Zaltzman said that Smyrna Mayor Derek Norton has been extremely supportive of their work with the community.

“Mayor Norton is forward-thinking and has a growth mindset. We are thrilled to have met and work with him. He has been part of our menorah lightings, in fact, and plans to join us again this year.” Menorah lightings are scheduled this year at Taylor-Brawner Park and at The Battery at Truist Park.

“I sometimes compare what we at Chabad are doing to a buffet table. We have lots of offerings, and people can partake of as much or as little as they like,” said Rabbi Zaltzman. “When we first came to Smyrna, many people told us that Smyrna is the best kept secret in Atlanta. I agree – but I hope the word is out now and our Jewish community here continues to grow,” he added.

For information about Chabad of Smyrna-Vinings and its activities, visit

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