Before Moishe House or LEADS, young Jews in Atlanta connected through youth groups such as BBYO’s Aleph Zadik Aleph and B’nai B’rith Girls. That enduring connection recently brought 60 people together for the 60th Jewbilee in Atlanta.
After talk of a reunion a few months ago, Susan Moray, who is leaving the position of vice president of philanthropic advancement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta to be the chief advancement officer at Atlanta Jewish Academy, wanted to organize an event that would unite AZA and BBG chapters in Atlanta.
Cary Goldstein then suggested inviting everybody turning 60 back to Atlanta.
The idea took off, and with the help of planning committee members including Mark Kaufman, Beth Arogeti, Jane Arogeti Durham, Stella Tarica Gordon, Mindy Fleisher Ward, Doug Kuniansky and Robyn Rousso Levitas, Moray and Goldstein organized the 60th Jewbilee for former members of BBYO, USY, NFTY and Sunday school from Atlanta.
“When we get together now, we know people we grew up with from all over the city and went to different high schools, but my kids only know the people that went to their high school,” Goldstein said. “I don’t think youth groups are as popular anymore, but the idea of growing up in a community and knowing so many people and still seeing them wherever we go is rewarding.”
Moray put together an invitation list of names from old yearbooks, then decided to use a Facebook group instead.
Moray and the planning committee called the Jewbilee “58 Turning 60,” and the event brought more than 130 people and their spouses together on Mother’s Day weekend at Three Sheets in Sandy Springs.
“It turned out Three Sheets was so easy to work with and offered us a very reasonable way to have the reunion,” Goldstein said. “The food was delicious. The owner was very easy to work with, and they offered us the entire deck.”
Three Sheets owner Ryan Akly said that planning such events is something the venue does regularly.
“The reunion went off really well, and we managed the event like we do every other event. We try to do our best so everyone has a great time,” he said. “We were glad to be a part of the event and glad it was a successful one. It was a pleasure working with them.”
Holding the Jewbilee the night before Mother’s Day was a good way to draw a crowd, Moray said, because people were coming to town to visit their mothers anyway. There were attendees from Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Guatemala. One person who traveled from Silicon Valley, Calif., had not visited Atlanta in 44 years.
People brought photos, banners and old memorabilia to help commemorate the occasion.
“The event was so much fun,” Moray said. “I had not seen so many people since my junior year in high school, but everybody looked really good.”
Goldstein said he has three children he pushes to try the same kinds of things but to no avail. “They attended Weber and Epstein and feel they have those groups of friends but yet didn’t get a chance to meet kids from other parts of the city.”
He said one of the highlights of the reunion was seeing how everyone had grown up. “There are always cliques when you are kids. But as you grow up, the people who weren’t so cool and those who were all become the same.”
Goldstein added: “I think the Jewish community did the right thing by keeping us together when we were growing up in Atlanta. I see a lot of other organizations, such as Hillel and Birthright, doing the same thing today, which is essential. We are a small group, and when I look at other minorities similar to us, we have managed to stay strong because of our close connections, and that is something we just have to keep up.”