On May 11, the Atlanta Jewish Times hosted a luncheon at City Springs to formally recognize the 40 Jewish Atlantans, all under 40 years old, who are making a significant impact in the Atlanta Jewish community.
The winners, who were first announced in the Nov. 22, 2022 edition of the AJT, were selected based on their successes and achievements. AJT Publisher Michael Morris began the luncheon with a special welcome in lieu of past year’s pandemic pause.
He said, “Here in this room is the next generation of leaders who will take on this mantle — hopefully sooner rather than later.”
He closed by sending get-well wishes to AJT columnist Dave Schechter, who is recovering from a medical incident, which Schechter described in detail in his most recent column entitled, “My Heart Attack Has a Nickname.”
The lunch was sponsored by Brad Young on behalf of Israel Bonds. He related that the power of leadership comes with responsibility which dovetails in the support of Israel. He said, “We can follow in our parents’ footsteps. Bonds are an investment, not a donation. Keep them in mind for simcha gifts or a double mitzvah by donating.”
AJT Managing Publisher and Editor Kaylene Ladinsky called each recipient to the podium to receive his/her award. She also invited Rabbi Isser New, Rabbi Daniel Dorsch, Ethan Fialkow, Ben Halpern, Jessica Katz, and Hannah Zale to remain on stage for a panel discussion.
First up was Ladinsky’s query, “Starting out as leaders, what was your biggest challenge?”
Halpern spoke of the big shoes left to fill by community leaders like Erwin Zaban, Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus, vis -a-vis his own commitment to give back.
Dorsch shared credit with his large supporting cast, congregants and community members making it a pleasure to step up to the plate.
Katz explained that her role, “Raising funds, especially during the pandemic for the Jewish Family and Career Services, reinforced my choice to be a Jewish community professional.”
She also noted that as a leader for Birthright Israel trips, she inspired others, including Zale.
Next up, Ladinsky elicited remarks on how things have changed post-COVID.
Fialkow noted that he now thinks differently, and the Jewish community is now closer because of alternative forms of communication.
He stated, “I had never even heard of Zoom. And now it’s weird to not use it.”
Dorsch compared COVID to the shofar blast, saying, “In a way, shattering, but revealing a new level of creativity…two years ago, we couldn’t have even had this luncheon…every milestone now reminds, sustains us.”
Zale noted that quality, not quantity, and “how it feels when you are there” is what counts. “Somehow, I am weirdly grateful, beautiful things happened, partnerships came together.”
Halpern used the half-empty, half-full glass analogy and said, “We used our resilience and learned to constantly pivot.” He also spoke of his recent trip with Honeymoon Israel increasing his passion (for Judaism).
Ladinsky then prompted the audience to ask a question, to which one audience member asked the panel what specific challenges the Jewish community faces today.
Dorsch spoke of the Jewish population explosion from around 30,000 during the Summer Olympics to 120,000 now, in just 30 years. He said, “Do we have the infrastructure to connect at all ages and stages? And there are some Jews who don’t want to be found. There has to be multiple entry points…be on a swim team or reading the AJT…and do we have the money to run it all?”
Rabbi New had similar thoughts, adding, “Apathy could be the biggest challenge. In the old days, it was just the Federation, now, this has to be redefined.”
Ladinsky closed the meeting by relating that the Atlanta Jewish Times relies on everyone to advocate for our community, by letting her know about local events and great stories. She announced the Jewish Breakfast Club would resume reconvening quarterly from 11:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. Always a fitting time for a breakfast club!
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- city springs
- 40 under 40
- Michael Morris
- Dave Schechter
- Brad Young
- Israel Bonds
- Kaylene Ladinsky
- Rabbi Isser New
- Rabbi Daniel Dorsch
- Ethan Fialkow
- Ben Halpern
- Jessica Katz
- Hannah Zale
- Irwin Zaban
- Arthur Blank
- Bernie Marcus
- Jewish Family and Career Services
- Summer Olympics
- Jewish Breakfast Club