Above: More than 230 people attend the Power of One reception Sunday, Jan. 31.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta played host to the second annual Power of One awards reception Sunday, Jan. 31, giving an early start to Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month, which is February.

More than 230 people attended the event, during which representatives of 23 local Jewish organizations were recognized for their efforts to include people with special needs.

Camp Coleman Director Bobby Harris gives Lauren Gordon a big hug to go with her Power of One award.

Camp Coleman Director Bobby Harris gives Lauren Gordon a big hug to go with her Power of One award.

The Power of One falls under the auspices of the Greater Atlanta Jewish Abilities Alliance, chaired by Sheryl Arno and Ina Enoch. The alliance’s website, atlanta.jewishabilities.org, has not only exceeded expectations for users since launching last spring, but also gets more traffic than the Baltimore site on which it is based, Federation Chair Howard Feinsand said.

In addition to the presentation of the awards, the ceremony featured Temple Sinai member Gregory Jay talking about his family’s journey to the bar mitzvah celebration of son Jared, who has autism and has not spoken since age 2.

Jay said his time with his son has taught him that “not being able to speak is not the same thing as having nothing to say.”

The ceremony concluded with Arno’s tribute to Robyn Berger, who died in June at age 72. Arno called Berger the “original power of one” in Jewish Atlanta and said Berger was the first person she contacted when she was asked to launch the task force that became the Jewish Abilities Alliance.

Here are this year’s Power of One honorees:

  • Helane Levy, Atlanta Jewish Academy.
  • Jaime Schwartz, The Temple’s Breman Religious School.
  • Lauren Gordon, Camp Coleman.
  • Becky Borak, Camp Judaea.
  • Kessler family, Camp Living Wonders.
  • Lauren Lebovitz, Camp Ramah Darom.
  • Jeremy Sachs, Congregation Beth Shalom.
  • Derric and Victoria Raggs, Congregation B’nai Torah.
  • Diane Mallin and Sara Dean, Congregation Dor Tamid.
  • Sheri Frohlich, Congregation Etz Chaim.
  • Wendy Bendit, Congregation Gesher L’Torah.
  • Jack and Rachael Rosenberg and Harold and Arlene Koslow, Congregation Shearith Israel.
  • Julie Herman Cohen, Davis Academy.
  • Jane Escalera, Epstein School.
  • Simon Barzilay, Friendship Circle.
  • Bruce Lindemann, Jewish Family & Career Services.
  • Gail Heyman, Jewish Home Life Communities.
  • Lisa Marks, Jewish Interest-Free Loan of Atlanta.
  • Kenny Sonenshine (who missed the ceremony), Marcus Jewish Community Center.
  • Jeff and Laura Marcus (who missed the ceremony), Temple Emanu-El.
  • Tovah Martin, Temple Kol Emeth.
  • Roger and Corky Gelder, Martin and Phyllis Isenberg, and Bob and Dede Thompson, Temple Sinai.
  • Jennifer Lieb, Marcus JCC’s Weinstein School.

Photos by Michael Jacobs