Leaving town and traveling around can be an exciting opportunity, but it can also be an expensive proposition. Many have been looking for fun closer to home without having to worry about any of the expensive travel costs.
“Atlanta operates daily on a global stage, but I believe one of the things that makes our city exceptional is our ability to engage residents with our countless local attractions,” said Richard Cox, chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta. “From millennials and seniors to families with school-aged children, Atlanta provides a variety of opportunities for all people to feel a sense of community connection as each area of town comes with its own unique identity. As a native Atlantan, I am proud of the growth I have seen over the years. Watching our city thrive has been incredible.”
Here are a few of the AJT’s ideas for where to head to get away, without getting too far away, and the well- and lesser-known Jewish histories behind some of the attractions.
World of Coca-Cola
While most of Atlanta’s residents have visited the World of Coke once or twice in the past, it’s a spot worth checking out again. With Passover recently concluded, it’s worth remembering the history of Jews with Coca-Cola and how it ended up on many seder tables.
Coke may never have become the juggernaut it is today if it weren’t for a Jewish pharmacist named Dr. Joseph Jacobs, who was among the first to sample the beverage, and to sell it via a soda fountain in his pharmacy. He famously wrote an article titled, “How I Won and Lost an Interest in Coca-Cola,” in 1929 in a pharmaceutical magazine describing how he sold his shares to Asa Candler, who would turn the business into the titan it is today.
While Jacobs’ Pharmacy is long gone, its mark has been indelibly left on Jewish Atlanta, Georgia and the world, and as Coke proudly says, “Coca-Cola was first served on May 8th at Jacobs’ Pharmacy.”
Atlanta Jews were instrumental in making the Georgia Aquarium one of the world’s finest. Bernie and Billi Marcus, through the Marcus Foundation, were responsible for funding the aquarium’s construction, and CEO Mike Leven has overseen the growth and current expansion of the space.
The aquarium is an ever-popular attraction in Atlanta, particularly for family fun. It played host to the AJT’s inaugural Atlanta Jewish Life Festival in January and includes a packed daily schedule for those looking to learn about aquatic life or simply to get out of the summer heat and see some sharks under the sea.
The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
Located on the corner of 18th Street and Spring Street, the Breman Museum is a premier site for learning about Southern Jewish history. It is home to the permanent exhibit, “Absence of Humanity: The Holocaust Years, 1933-1945.”
Currently on display are “Eighteen Artifacts,” which explores Jewish Atlanta’s history through 18 artifacts, images and stories, and “Inescapable,” which details a young Erik Weisz, son of a Hungarian rabbi, on his journey to become the international superstar Harry Houdini.
College Football Hall of Fame
The Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame offers a unique view into both the history of one of the South’s most beloved games and the modern college football experience. Between exhibits, indoor playing fields, a three-story helmet wall and, of course, the gravitas of the hall of fame itself, there’s something for fans of every age.
Recently, Jewish Atlanta’s own A.J. Robinson was appointed chairman of the board of Atlanta Hall Management Inc., which oversees the hall’s operations.
Keeping the sports theme going, there’s no time like the present for those who’ve yet to visit Atlanta’s newest sporting venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Whether it’s to catch Atlanta United this summer or waiting until football season rolls around and the Dirty Birds are back defending their home, the stadium’s state-of-the-art features and affordable concessions make it an ever-popular site for tourists and native Atlantans alike.
The Jewish history of the building is no secret, Falcons and United owner Arthur Blank is among the most well-recognized members of the community and an ever-present force in U.S. sports.
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
While the history of Jews in Atlanta’s rich civil rights story is well-documented, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is nonetheless an excellent reminder of the greats who came before, with names like King and Rothschild.
Recently announcing its newest CEO, Jill Savitt, previously of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the center is continuing the legacy of keeping Jews involved in America’s premier center for civil and human rights.
The center itself is dedicated to education, with permanent exhibits on “The U.S. Civil Rights Movement” and “The Global Human Rights Movement,” as well as current temporary exhibits, such as “Breaking Barriers,” which addresses social change through sports, and Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.
To learn more about Savitt, and her new position at the center, visit the AJT’s website, (www.www.atlantajewishtimes.com/new-head-of-civil-and-human-rights-center-sets-direction).
Founded in 1867 as the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, The Temple is one of, if not the most recognizable Jewish icon in Atlanta and all of the Southeast. The Temple, as it’s known today, was completed in 1931 before its bombing in 1958.
It was led by Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, who used his position to reach out to Christian communities in Atlanta and build strong ties, and to speak out in favor of social justice despite tensions throughout Atlanta at the time.
It was featured in the 1989 Oscar-winner “Driving Miss Daisy,” where now-emeritus Rabbi Alvin Sugarman can be seen giving a sermon to his congregation.
With a “history wall,” detailing its past, truly no site in Atlanta captures Jews’ long, winding and complex history with the city quite as well.