Together Yet Distanced
AJT Publisher Michael Morris highlights some of the community groups and their innovative programs during the pandemic to celebrate, worship, socialize, educate and entertain.
Michael A. Morris is the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times.
I want to offer kudos to our Atlanta Jewish community. As we approach one year under the siege of a pandemic that is keeping us humans abnormally social distanced, we have come a long way in being creative and inventive in order to keep us socialized.
The good news is that we have learned new tricks and trades. As an example, Zoom was something almost unheard of. Now video conferencing has become the norm for business, charitable work, keeping the family in touch and bringing together old and young. We have learned that we can create face-to-face meetings in an instant for personal simchas as well as business emergencies. We can create these meetings that include people thousands of miles away with minimal invasion into people’s schedule; and we can often gain a larger audience for sharing or brainstorming than we could typically have expected for an in-person gathering.
The bad news is that we are still suffering from social deprivation and most likely will for a good portion of this year. In addition, the trauma that some or many have experienced will continue for several years. It will take time for businesses and charities to recoup, for retirements and retirement savings to be replenished, and for some of us to feel comfortable in social entertainment such as eating out, going to music or sporting venues, and even just dating.
But all during this time, many of our Jewish community organizations have not only persevered, but have given us outlets to celebrate, worship, socialize and give back to the people most in need. I want to take a few minutes to highlight some accomplishments.
Synagogues have used both video conferencing as well as the great outdoors to continue weekly prayer, lifecycle events, educational programming and even social events. Chabad Intown was one of the synagogues that created the concept of drive-by shofar blowing during the high holidays both on the BeltLine as well as Piedmont Park. The Temple has already performed over 50 b’nai mitzvah by video conference.
The Davis Academy has done a marvelous job getting kids back to school in a very structured environment that has allowed in-person teaching while keeping the cases of COVID-19 not only a minimum but significantly below other private and public schools.
Jewish Family & Career Services is not an organization that we can afford to lose, and it is not an organization that can afford to let its clients falter or suffer. During COVID-19, it has grown its Kosher Food Pantry tenfold and its Frances Bunzl Clinical Services program, which assists people with mental health services, has grown substantially during this trying time.
To say that the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has pivoted would be an understatement. It is continuing to create America’s largest attended Jewish film festival through a bevy of online activity and screenings as well as opening night video conferencing socialization complete with in-person care packages for sponsors. It’s almost like being at the movies!
The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum has done a yeoman’s job in providing online and video conference programs to fill the void of important, educational and timely programming and services. Most recently, Atlanta Jewish History Talks featuring “The Activism of Jewish Women,” and a continuation of the series “Jews and Jazz.”
SOJOURN has also done a tremendous job in creating virtual programming, including programming during holidays like Purim off Ponce coming up in a few weeks, virtual booths for Atlanta Pride as well as OneTable, and maintaining multiple offerings on a weekly basis for the community such as Drawing from the Well.
Several of our revered Jewish catering companies have also pivoted by offering special Shabbat dinners and lunches or small catering anytime of the week. This is vital for the continuity of our Jewish catering companies. Added Touch Catering is offering fully prepared Shabbat dinners for pickup. Farmers & Fishermen Purveyors have included Kosher meat into their home delivery program. EB’s Ghost Kitchen and Kosher Gourmet are both offering Shabbat-in-a-Box, among other offerings.
Not every organization has had the opportunity to pivot. The Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival and the Atlanta Jewish Life Festival both will have taken a year off. I am glad to report that both will come back with a flourish in the new year. The important piece is, as a community, we have remained together yet social distanced so that we are poised to come back, together, when it is safe to do so.
- Publisher's Note
- Michael A. Morris
- Chabad Intown
- piedmont park
- The Temple
- Davis Academy
- Jewish Family & Career Services
- Kosher Food Pantry
- Frances Bunzl Clinical Services
- Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
- William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
- Added Touch Catering
- Farmers & Fishermen Purveyors
- Kosher Gourmet
- Atlanta Jewish Life Festival
- Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival