Theatre Production to be Co-Chaired by Benefactor

 /SPECIAL FOR THE AJT/

 

Lois Blonder, benefactor of Jerry’s Habima Theatre, is having a monumental year.

Having recently turned 80, she is thrilled to co-chair (with Terri Bagen) the 21st anniversary season of Jerry’s Habima Theatre.

This remarkable, inspiring theatre is a program of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA), and is produced under the auspices of the MJCCA’s Blonder Family Department for Special Needs, a department that Ms. Blonder endowed 12 years ago, along with her late husband, Jerry Blonder.

Blonder said, “I wanted to celebrate my 80th year by co-chairing this year’s Jerry’s Habima Theatre production, a program that is so close to my heart. Having a granddaughter with special needs who benefits greatly from this department that serves people of all special needs, and of all ages, has made it that much more important for me to take an active role, while I still have all this energy.”

 

Blonder Family Department for Special Needs

In addition to Jerry’s Habima Theatre, Georgia’s largest theater that features both professional actors and actors (ages 18 and over) with special needs, the Blonder Family Department provides valuable programs and services to more than 300 people annually, with special needs ranging from Down Syndrome to Autism to William’s Syndrome, etc. The department creates a place for individuals of all abilities to socialize, learn, and grow.

“Having been behind the scenes for so many years, I see the impact that these programs have on so many in this community.” Blonder mused. “I feel such a sense of pride when parents come and tell me that they purposely moved to Atlanta because of the programs that are offered here to people that have special needs – from trips to classes to social events to camp.”

Blonder continued, “But of all the wonderful programs this department offers, Habima is particularly special to me. This year’s show is the musical, The Little Shop of Horrors The charming Habima actors never fail to entertain, but it’s more than that; the joy is witnessing all of the lives that have been deeply touched by this remarkable theater. It’s come so far in 21 years, bringing joy to individuals who never dreamed that they would have a moment to shine on a stage.”

 

Lois Blonder

Blonder sees the importance of this wonderful programming for individuals with special needs first-hand. Her granddaughter (age 27) has special needs and benefits greatly from the department, going on all of their trips and participating in the programs.

Blonder began her work with the special needs community almost 20 years ago, when a committee was formed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta (JFGA), gathering information and exploring the needs for children and adults with special needs.

Blonder said, “Back then no one addressed that population. They were closeted. People had trouble coming out and admitting that they had a child who had different needs than other children. There were just a few of us in that committee, talking about what the Atlanta Jewish community needed to do for these families.”

Originally from New York, Blonder has lived in Atlanta for 60 years. She was married to Jerry Blonder for 53 years. Lois and Jerry Blonder had named the MJCCA’s department serving children and adults with special needs – which was so dear to them both – as the Blonder Family Department for Special Needs.

When Jerry passed away eight years ago, Blonder wanted to commemorate his memory by naming Habima Theatre in his memory. It then became known as Jerry’s Habima Theatre.

Susie Davidow, Director of the MJCCA’s Blonder Family Department for Special Needs commented, “Blonder is one of a kind. She has such positive, wonderful energy, and she matches her passion with her generosity. She and her late husband, Jerry, saw a need for financial security for this department and they made it happen.”

Davidow continued, “Blonder is so well-liked and respected in the community, and with good reason: she just continues to give of herself in every way.”

Blonder said, “My personal connection helped push me to get involved, and it gives me such a sense of pride to know that these wonderful programs can help each individual with special needs in our community to shine.”

For more information, call Lora Sommer at (678) 812-4078, lora.sommer@atlantajcc.org.