The Atlanta Jewish community’s history has long been intertwined with that of Sandy Springs, a realization that Heritage Sandy Springs and Temple Sinai hope to share with thousands of visitors in a new exhibit, “L’Chaim Sandy Springs! A Toast to Jewish Participation.”
Home to six synagogues, five Jewish day schools, the Atlanta Jewish Times and countless other Jewish organizations, Sandy Springs’ relationship with the Jewish community traces back decades.
Heritage Sandy Springs’ director of historic resources and educational programing, Melissa Swindell, sought to capture that story through a series of panels that depict enlarged Instagram photos and comments from community leaders.
“We wanted something that would reach a younger demographic, and since the exhibit will be touring the schools, everyone from elementary school to high school is already familiar with Instagram and will know how to interact with it,” Swindell said.
Although “Instagram is a very friendly and easy way to help get the exhibit’s message across,” she said, the exhibit also is meant to connect with people who don’t have accounts with the photo-sharing app.
“Individuals who pass by the JCC may see the exhibit and recognize someone from the photos or find an image that resonates with them,” Swindell said.
After City Council member Andy Bauman, a Temple Sinai member, approached Swindell to help a few members of the congregation’s history committee create an exhibit commemorating Sinai’s 50th anniversary, she took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
She realized that Heritage Sandy Springs was missing a Jewish collection, leaving a hole in the city history museum, and rather than focus on just Temple Sinai, she decided to cover the community as a whole.
Swindell and her team conducted more than 120 interviews, using a common set of questions for all the city’s Jewish organizations and a series of questions formed specifically for each organization.
“It was a great way to meet everyone and see what is special about their organization,” Swindell said.
After a preview party earlier in September, the exhibit opened to the public at the 32nd annual Sandy Springs Festival on Sept. 23 and 24. The exhibit, which was a year in the making, will travel to locations across Sandy Springs the next three years, including several schools and synagogues and the Sandy Springs branch of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.
Heritage Sandy Springs also has grant funding to bring the exhibit to more community organizations at no charge. Visit form.jotform.us/72566743778170 to apply to host “L’Chaim Sandy Springs!”
“I think people know that we have a vibrant Jewish community in Sandy Springs, but there’s still so much going on that not every Jewish resident may be aware of,” Swindell said. “I hope that as the exhibit continues to travel, people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, realize how much is going on and the benefits we have available within the community.”
After working alongside Jewish Sandy Springs resident Leslie Walden, Swindell is excited for people to view the exhibit. “Learning about what’s available in our community, all the wonderful people in it and the difference the Jewish community is making has been the most rewarding aspect for us,” she said. “We knew the exhibit would have an impact but didn’t realize how big or vibrant it would be.”
What: Jewish history exhibit
Where and when: Heritage Sandy Springs, 6075 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs, through Oct. 1; Temple Sinai, 5645 Dupree Drive, Sandy Springs, Oct. 2 to Jan. 5; the Weber School, 6751 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, Jan. 8 to March 30; and the Marcus Jewish Community Center, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody, April 2 to June 29