By Michael A. Morris | Owner-Publisher
Lights, camera, action! Atlanta’s highly anticipated Jewish Film Festival began this week with a big splash; no, over and above; no, “Above and Beyond.”
The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is the second-largest Jewish film festival in the world, behind San Francisco’s, and ours began merely 15 years ago. This is an astounding accomplishment, and I thank Kenny Blank for his vision in achieving this feat.
Cookie Shapiro spearheaded AJC’s inaugural effort in 2000. That year, the AJFF screened films over a long weekend, and almost 2,000 people participated. Kenny became the festival’s executive director 11 years ago. This year, under his leadership, the AJFF will run 23 days and show 65 films in 165 screenings, and it has already sold over 40,000 tickets.
Last year I attended five screenings. Highlights I remember might not be what you expect. First, the camaraderie in the line to enter the theater was great. I don’t like waiting in line, but when you are with 200 people and know 50, it changes from a line to schmoozing.
How often do you sit in a fully packed theater? Not often, but when we as Jews come together in a full house to learn and be entertained, it becomes a spiritually uplifting experience.
Finally, I sat through two screenings that included moderated discussions afterward. We were all so enthralled with the movie we had just watched, I could count on my hands the number of people who left their seats before the discussion — combined. I think this had less to do with politeness than the caliber of the movies and the speakers.
See you at the movies this week!
I must continue to thank our new readers, subscribers and advertisers. We continue to grow because of you — growth in terms of better coverage of news, business, traditions, programs and lifecycle events and increased distribution within our community.
I also want to thank the people who are writing to me, whether or not you agree with something you have read in the paper. We certainly like to know when we have done something right. We also need to know when we have made a mistake.
And I want the paper to share our community’s opinions. We have a diversified community with many opinions on all sides of almost every issue. We are raised, generation to generation, to think this way. The Atlanta Jewish Times is our voice, your voice; the AJT is an opportunity for us to share our voices. I hope we can entice you to join the chorus.
I want to conclude with a little bit of information about myself. While I was born in the New Jersey, I have spent the better part of my life in Atlanta, beginning at Pace Academy as a junior when my family moved into town in 1978 (I think this makes me an honorary Atlantan). I have a bachelor of science from Vanderbilt (my degree, for sure, was in fraternity, AEPi); however, I ultimately returned to Atlanta, focused on education, and graduated from Emory’s Business School, cum laude, with an M.B.A. in finance.
I have worked on Wall Street, specifically in the World Trade Center, Building 5. I worked at Wolf Camera back in the day. I was involved in investment banking for years. And I am still a partner, with Renee Werbin, in travelgirl magazine, which is in its 10th year of publication.
Notwithstanding work, I also have succeeded in raising money for nonprofit organizations, but the crowning jewel of my livelihood is helping to raise four amazing daughters. My oldest, Jacqueline, is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis. She is studying teaching, history, Jewish studies and more. Alexandra is a sophomore at Colorado State University (in Fort Collins, not Boulder) and is studying zoology, her passion since high school, when she volunteered at Zoo Atlanta.
Lydia is a junior at Woodward Academy, but more important, she plays volleyball as a middle on the A5 17-1’s team.
Hannah is a freshman at the Weber School. She plays volleyball but is more passionate about her cross-social calendars between Weber, BBYO and Camp Barney.
These girls remind me each and every day why I work, how precious is family, and that our Jewish values are going from strength to strength. My only concern is in which nursing home they will place me.