As an intimate group of women gathered at the Sandy Springs office of the National Council of Jewish Women Atlanta Section, pulling chairs to the conference table and greeting one another, Sherry Frank sat poised and ready to lead.
Frank, who led the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta for 25 years, was organized and thorough in her collection of news pieces from around the globe. The room settled, and Frankly Speaking began.
The monthly lunch-and-learn series addresses current events through a Jewish lens. More than just a review of news, the forum is one for discovery and discussion.
Judy Musiker, an NCJW board member, said Frankly Speaking is an easy way to stay informed.
“A lot of things discussed today are things I’m hearing for first time. Some women will go home and look into the specific issues. Lately we are on information overload, especially because of the election, and news is coming at us from all directions,” Musiker said.
Frank’s experience in the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition added credit to her first topic: Rep. John Lewis’ new graphic novel trilogy, “March,” will be used in seventh-grade English classes in the Atlanta Public Schools. The Democratic congressman is planning a book signing at the Davis Academy in late November.
Attendees heard Frank’s opinion on the appointment of former Attorney General Sam Olens to the presidency of Kennesaw State University. She noted that in all the controversy over his appointment, religion did not emerge as a factor of disapproval.
“As attorney general, he was not good on a lot of issues, like same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms. He says that he followed the law and when the Supreme Court made a decision, he upheld it. You don’t totally know where he is on this, but you can guess,” Frank said.
“It was solely political. The governor, with every position he’s had to fill, he’s filled it with white Republicans. So this is just another one of the good old boys.”
Frank went on to explain the significance of the election to Democrats, voting districts and how redistricting is crucial to correctly representing the population.
“If you look at the maps, you can see how they’re gerrymandered. Some districts look like a snake just to get all the white folks in or keep black folks out,” Frank said.
The group went on to hear about the United Nations honoring Wonder Woman, UNESCO passing resolutions ignoring the Jewish history of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture disrespecting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Voter rights in Macon kicked off a lively conversation about multitudes of issues, from the refusal to accept voter identification laws to reports of voting machines changing votes.
Sari Earl, a new NJCW member, recounted her experience with interfaith friends. In talking about voting rights, it became clear that many people are unaware of issues, she said. “I am a lawyer, and I love history, so I soak it up. But I think the general population does not know the impediments that have been in place and how important it is to keep fighting it.”
The group touched on black-Jewish relations, American-Israeli relations, Darfur, the new Deborah Lipstadt film “Denial” and settlements. She introduced the group to Women of the Wall and showed her wares: a handmade tambourine she uses at Passover and a tallit with the matriarchs of Judaism on each corner.
Merle Smith said she attends to hear Frank’s commentary. “It’s political and informational. Everyone is so fascinated with her.”
Rachel Rosen, the NCJW volunteer board chair, said Frankly Speaking was the brainchild of NCJW past presidents who met to review the wants and needs of members.
Frankly Speaking returns at noon Thursday, Nov. 17, at 6303 Roswell Road (the Trader Joe’s shopping center) in Sandy Springs. Contact Christine Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-843-9600 to get more information or RSVP.