Jewish Atlanta has no shortage of young professional organizations aimed at people in their 20s and 30s, but the goals of each group can differ greatly.
“That is the purpose of the entire YJP organization,” Rabbi Schusterman said. “I’m not saying there aren’t other layers to that, but that is the main goal, to connect Jews to Jews. All of our events are designed to create an environment where people are meeting people. Even when we do events that have a learning component, we always have time for socializing so that people have the opportunity to meet.”
Rabbi Schusterman couldn’t estimate how many couples have met at YJP events, but he said people regularly tell him about meeting significant others at YJP functions.
Michelle Krebs Levy, the CEO and founder of The Sixth Point, said her group is not focused on getting Jews together in the physical sense.
“Our goal is to build community,” Levy said, “bringing people together for the sake of being together and being Jewish together. I think The Sixth Point certainly plays a role in people meeting new people and making new friends, and if they find a date or a mate, that’s excellent, but it’s not something we set out to do.”
The Sixth Point is an independent, nondenominational community that hosts monthly events for young Jewish professionals. Levy said she started the group to provide an alternative to large Jewish events that can intimidate and put undue pressure on attendees.
“Part of why we exist is to have something else besides those other events with 100 to 200 people,” she said. “There are lots of events that have that cliquey, insular feeling where people are only talking to people they already know.”
Other organizations in Jewish Atlanta run the gamut from affiliation with larger groups to complete independence.
From OneTable, a social dining platform that brings people together for Shabbat dinner, to MJCCA Young Adults, which hosts co-ed sports leagues, to synagogue-affiliated groups such as AAspire and the Etz Chaim Young Adult Group, Jewish Atlanta’s young professionals have many options to meet and mingle. Local tequila company Goza Tequila even hosts a large annual party for young Jews on Christmas Eve, Gozapalooza.
“Our goal is for Atlanta’s young Jewish thought leaders to advocate on behalf of the global Jewish community and for human rights and democratic values for all,” said Julie Katz, the assistant director at AJC Atlanta. “ACCESS is social with substance. Many of our members join not only to meet their peers, but to make a vital impact. Although fostering Jewish relationships isn’t our No. 1 priority, we’ve certainly had relationships form out of ACCESS.”
Other groups affiliated with larger parents include Jewish Family & Career Services VIA (Volunteers in Action), Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Southeast, JNFuture, and the Under 40 Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, which operates LEADS, a seven-week leadership education program designed for young professionals.
Gabrielle Adler, the Southern regional manager for Moishe House, said that sparking Jewish relationships isn’t a goal for her organization, although she did meet her partner at a Moishe House event.
“If a couple were to form because they met at a Moishe House event, of course we would be happy for them,” Adler said. “Relationships as a whole are one of the key pieces to making Moishe House a success. One of the most compelling and exciting aspects of Moishe House is that each house is unique, and the types of programming evolve as the interests of the residents and community members change. Thus, in regards to facilitating romantic relationships, that would depend on the interests and preferences of the current residents.”
For most young professional organizations in Jewish Atlanta, romantic relationships between Jews remain a secondary goal or a byproduct of programming, but Jewish marriages are the goal for some.
“In the Torah, it’s a mitzvah to marry Jewish, and we want to create an environment where people can fulfil that mitzvah,” Rabbi Schusterman said. “Along those same lines, the Jewish future is dependent on Jewish people marrying Jewish.”