Atlanta Jewish Academy will host the Jerry Siegel Legacy Golf Tournament on Monday, May 4, at the Dunwoody Country Club. The tournament was recently renamed for the late Jerry Siegel, who was a president and life trustee for AJA predecessor Greenfield Hebrew Academy, as well as an AJA parent and grandparent.
Siegel’s ability to defuse difficult situations with humor was legendary. Involved in the community and in everything Jewish, he was known as “the presidents’ president.” He continued to lead at GHA after his term of service was over with tireless fundraising and careful monitoring of the academy’s Code of Practice. He was instrumental in the sale of the academy’s old building, enabling the purchase of the current Northland Drive location in Sandy Springs, which will be the site of the entire AJA once the Upper School moves from Doraville.
This inaugural year’s honorees are Siegel’s sons, Andy and Michael Siegel, who have devoted themselves to the cause of Jewish education.
Andy Siegel, the president of Siegel Insurance, is the president-elect of the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia. He served on the board of Jewish Vocational Services, now part of Jewish Family & Career Services. He has also assisted the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta with its annual fundraising campaign and serves on its board. He has served on the board of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and has co-chaired the Atlanta Jewish Academy golf outing.
What has your involvement been with AJA?
Michael: I started my association with AJA in 1969, when I entered kindergarten! I graduated from the seventh grade at Hebrew Academy in 1977. I reconnected with Greenfield Hebrew Academy, as it was then called, in earnest when my oldest son, Joey, enrolled in kindergarten in 2001. Both my children attended AJA: Joey graduated from GHA in 2010 and from Yeshiva Atlanta, our other component school, in 2014. Ben graduated GHA in 2013. Parenthood brought me back to AJA, and I eventually joined the board of trustees and became president of the school. Here, I was following in the footsteps of my own father, Jerry Siegel, who was president in the 1970s.
Andy: I graduated in 1975, and I also proudly sent my children to GHA: Hannah was a member of the Class of 2009, and Jonah was in the class of 2011. I volunteered in several capacities over the years. In fact, I actually co-chaired the first two golf tournaments at AJA.
Michael: I was very excited when they told us that they were renaming the golf tournament to honor our father because both my father and mother spent a great deal of time dedicated to Jewish education. They worked tirelessly for the Hebrew Academy; they continued their involvement with the school and stayed invested in its success long after my siblings and I graduated. My father served as president of the school, and my mother was president of the PTA. Collectively, they were on the board of trustees for over 40 years.
Can you share a memory of your father’s involvement with AJA?
Andy: My happiest memory of his involvement is the year that he and my mother were the honorees at the Dinner of Honor in 1983, after my father served as president in 1979.
Michael: My very favorite memories of my dad and his involvement with the school really occurred after I became deeply involved myself. We would constantly debate about the direction of the school, with me advocating for some of the more progressive ways of thinking and my father insisting on honoring the past. The right answer, of course, was some combination of both, but our debates were always so spirited that my wife, Lisa, often insisted that we were not allowed to talk about school at family functions.
Do you like to golf? Are you good at it?
Andy: I do like to golf, although there is much room for improvement in my game. Most days, my motto of “Bad golf is better than good work” holds true.
Michael: I am a horrible golfer, but, believe it or not, a past GHA golf tournament champion. I don’t relax well and don’t have the attention span for six hours of golf, so I don’t play often. That said, the tournament is a great place to reconnect with friends and raise money for our school.
Can you tell me a little about your brother?
Michael: Only that he is way above and beyond being just a brother. He is a dedicated family man and a great friend.
Andy: When my brother commits himself to a task, he becomes deeply involved. Michael is a very caring person.
How do you feel about the merger between GHA and Yeshiva Atlanta that produced AJA?
Andy: I’m excited about the new energy of the school, and I’m looking forward to the combined Sandy Springs campus in the near future.
Michael: The most exciting thing to me about combining these two schools is the fact that we can take the best of what each individual school did, shed any practices that perhaps needed improvement, and use those things as an opportunity to build a world-class Jewish day school. We have the foundation to do so, and with the right leadership and vision, I have no doubt that we can get there.
To purchase tickets to the golf tournament and benefit the AJA Scholarship Fund, visit www.atljewishacademy.org and click on “Upcoming Events.” For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.