Above: Heather Blake
Congregation Etz Chaim has hired Heather Blake as program director, effective July 25.
Blake grew up in Charlotte, where she was involved with the Union for Reform Judaism’s NFTY youth movement and camps. After being active in Hillel at Florida State University, she spent five years as the program director at Temple Israel in Tallahassee, where she developed innovative programs for all ages and often led services as a cantorial soloist.
She received dual master’s degrees in Jewish professional leadership and Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University in May 2015 and became the director of Jewish innovation and engagement at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.
She is married to Justin Blake, the former youth and family education director at Temple Kol Emeth who recently became executive assistant and marketing coordinator at Congregation Shearith Israel.
Special Dance Class Planned
The Marcus Jewish Community Center is launching a dance class for children ages 3 to 10 who have physical or mental disabilities.
“Dance Is for Everyone” will meet on Sunday mornings from Aug. 14 to Dec. 18 at Zaban Park in Dunwoody.
“Every child should be given the opportunity to participate in a dance class and feel good about themselves and their bodies,” said Erin Lesure, the center’s director of dance. “The ultimate goal of this class is to help these children build confidence and self-esteem through dance.”
Children 3 to 5 will be in one class; ages 6 to 10 will be in another. Each class will be small.
“Our volunteers will be working closely with class participants so parents can remain worry-free and relax as they enjoy watching their children learn how to dance,” Lesure said. Those volunteers are trained by physical therapists and special educators.
AIPAC Seeks Nominations
Aug. 5 is the deadline for nominations for AIPAC’s annual Jonathan R. Barkan Israel Advocacy Award, given to someone in the Atlanta area who is under age 40 and has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to Israel through leadership or involvement in organizations or activities that strengthen the bonds between Israel and Atlanta-area Jews.
The local professional and lay leadership of AIPAC will select the winner, who does not have to be affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The award will be presented at an Atlanta AIPAC event Sept. 8, and the winner will receive a $1,000 stipend to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington from March 26 to 28.
Email AIPAC’s Southeast director, Elliot Mendes, at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information or submit a nomination.
The award was established in 2008 in memory of Barkan, who inspired many with his passion and commitment as a volunteer, leader and champion of Israel.
AA Member Leads Municipal Judges
The Council of Municipal Court Judges of Georgia on June 23 selected Atlanta Judge Gary E. Jackson to be its president for a one-year term.
The council, which met at Sea Island, is composed of all municipal judges in Georgia.
Jackson is an associate judge on the Atlanta Municipal Court. As council president, he will continue to serve on the Judicial Council of Georgia, which establishes the policies and procedures for Georgia’s courts.
Jackson was appointed to the City Court of Atlanta in 2000, and Mayor Shirley Franklin named him to the Municipal Court in 2005.
Jackson is a native Atlantan and lifelong member of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and is married to Jean Saul Jackson. A 1968 graduate of Northside High School (now North Atlanta High), he received a bachelor’s degree in 1972 from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree in 1975 from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was a senior editor on the Georgia Law Review.
Jackson served as an assistant legislative counsel to the General Assembly in 1975 and 1976 and was legal aide to Lt. Gov. Zell Miller in 1978 and 1979.
Fitness Challenge at JCC
The Marcus Jewish Community Center is offering the community free access to its fitness center, tennis courts, swimming pools, running trail and fitness classes from Monday to Sunday, July 25 to 31.
The week of free access coincides with the release of new moves, music and routines for the center’s Les Mills program, said DeAnne Jacobson, the JCC’s group fitness director. “It is a great time to welcome the community to experience the quality of our classes, our exceptional instructors and the scope of our fitness amenities.”
In addition to Les Mills, fitness classes open during the free week include H.E.A.T, FitLine Functional Fitness, TRX, indoor cycling and coreBarre.
At the same time, the Marcus JCC is holding a Beat the Heat Fitness Challenge to encourage people to incorporate new activities and use all of the fitness programs at the Zaban Park campus, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody.
“We are promoting wellness-related activities that improve health, mood, balance and teamwork,” said Tina Luftig, the director of membership and fitness. “We want people to venture outside their comfort zones and have fun competing to earn daily points and prizes.”
The challenge is free and open to people of all fitness levels in the community. Daily winners will receive prizes.
You must register to participate in the challenge; www.atlantajcc.org/WorkoutForFree. You’ll then be assigned to a team captain, who will contact you within 24 hours and will provide you an activity card.
Earn points for yourself and your team by completing activities on the card and posting your activity on a Marcus JCC Facebook page.