We do not typically send out notes as the week comes to a close and we welcome Shabbat, but this week is different. In the past week alone, we have seen heated arguments over the acknowledgment of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the displacement of some refugees, additional wide-spread bomb threats across the country targeting our Jewish community centers, and the horrific murders at a Canadian Islamic Center. We have all been overwhelmed by media and statements from all sides, and the two of us will certainly appreciate closing our phones for Shabbat.

We are not going to make another statement on behalf of the Jewish community of Atlanta who we represent, because we can’t. We have a diverse community with differing perspectives, and that is part of the beauty of this community. What we will affirm is that Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta works day in and day out to engage, care for, connect and strengthen our greater Atlanta Jewish community, and to create a thriving, inclusive Atlanta Jewish community characterized by its compassion, diversity, generosity and commitment to Jewish values and Jews worldwide. Our work is especially grounded in the Jewish value of tikkun olam, and in these uncertain times we remain committed as ever to repairing the world through our work.

Federation Chairman Joel Marks

Last week’s executive order will impact some families and individuals who aim to immigrate to or seek refuge in the United States. We acknowledge the need for thoughtful increased security in the United States and at its borders, and encourage our government officials to move expeditiously to formulate its security plan so that we can once again welcome immigrants and refugees safely to our wonderful country.

People often ask us what has been most surprising during this time. We have been most surprised and disturbed by the divisions in our community. We are a people who must embrace differences by having meaningful and respectful dialogue on issues where we most disagree. As Federation has been formulating components of a vision for unmet needs in our community, one idea has become more urgent – the need to create a Jewish center for service and dialogue. At these divisive times, we are moved by our community’s desire to do service, and we want to help you do more of it in a Jewish context. We want to promote engaging in civil discourse, sharing differing perspectives and learning from each other.

In these tumultuous times, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Jewish Atlanta and beyond. Our community-wide security consultant is working tirelessly with Jewish institutions throughout Atlanta, and we have offered to assist our Muslim neighbors if and as needed. We continue to support and applaud the work of many of our partners who are providing direct services to those who find themselves in need of support at this time.

Shabbat Shalom and #RISEUP ATLANTA!