More than 300 guests gathered to honor 27 people from Atlanta’s Jewish organizations who have demonstrated empathy to people with disabilities at the fourth annual Power of One reception Sunday, Feb. 11.

This year’s program drew 100 more attendees than last year, filling every seat at the Selig Center.

Eric Robbins, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, highlighted the importance of honoring people who help Atlanta become a more welcoming, more inclusive community. “We don’t gather that often, and I wish we gathered more often, but if we are going to gather for something, let’s make it this.”

The event is the centerpiece of the Jewish Abilities Alliance’s observance of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month.

Photo by Jon Marks Photography
Ross Boardman (Robyn Berger’s grandson), Lisa Boardman (Robyn’s daughter), Eric Berger (Robyn’s son), Lori Berger (Robyn’s daughter) join Robyn Berger Award winner Abby Frantz.

JAA committee member Eren Niederhoffer spoke about his experience growing up with autism in Jewish Atlanta. “I didn’t always feel included in the Jewish community because of my difficulty with socializing and communicating … but as I got older I was able to participate in more and more Jewish groups, such as The Sixth Point and Moishe House,” he said. “Thanks to the JAA, I can contribute to my community and be a part of the tribe.”

JAA committee chair Ina Enoch recognized Sheryl Arno for her special-needs advocacy the past 25 years and her role in forming the JAA.

“What the JAA has done and is able to do, I have never seen in my many years,” Arno said. “The Federation’s willingness to be open and push this forward and the support that we have received has been extraordinary.”

Elana Pollack watches as Ian Brown receives an award from his sister, Haley Brown, for his kindness toward children at Camp Judaea.

She added, “I think that our thoughts about people with disabilities have certainly changed over the years, and I am very proud to say that Atlanta is doing more than most cities.”

In addition to honoring representatives of synagogues and other agencies, the JAA presented the Robyn Berger Emerging Leader Award, recognizing people who have dedicated their careers to helping people with special needs, to Abby Frantz for her work as the community services day coordinator at Jewish Family & Career ServicesIndependenceWORKS.

“I hope that I continue to promote inclusion,” Frantz said, “and as much as this award means to me, making inclusion something that needs no award and is just part of everyday life is important.”

Power of One Honorees

  • Ahavath Achim Synagogue: Shelley Kaplan
  • Atlanta Jewish Academy: Edye Cohen
  • Camp Barney Medintz: Bobby Newman
  • Camp Coleman: Karen Greenspan
  • Camp Judaea: Ian Brown
  • Camp Ramah Darom: Allison Davis
  • Congregation Beth Shalom: Terrie and Alan Bryan
  • Congregation B’nai Torah: Evan Nodvin
  • Congregation Dor Tamid: Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein and Glenn and Rachel Moscoso
  • Congregation Etz Chaim: Berna Levine
  • Congregation Gesher L’Torah: Rachel Pozin
  • Congregation Or Hadash: Brittany Pollock
  • Davis Academy: Stacey Prusak
  • Epstein School: Stephanie Wachtel
  • Friendship Circle: Daniel Stern
  • Jewish Family & Career Services: Abby Frantz
  • Jewish Home Life Communities: Shari Bayer
  • Jewish Kids Groups: Dave Nelson
  • JIFLA: Joyce and Ramie Tritt, Arin and Lorne Tritt, Tova and Shawn Tritt, Erica and Jordan Tritt, and Carly and David Siegel
  • Marcus JCC: Amanda Westheimer
  • Moishe House: Ariana Feiner
  • The Temple: Jenna Swartzberg
  • Temple Emanu-El: Jessica Hankin
  • Temple Kehillat Chaim: Andrew Duffy
  • Temple Sinai: Stacey Geer
  • Torah Day School: Malka Landman
  • Weber School: Harry Goldfein