More than a year after stepping off The Front Porch, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is moving forward on a new set of priorities for community impact. One of those priorities is to cultivate a climate of “radical welcome” in all our Jewish places. That commitment to be radically welcoming also means thinking more openly and creatively about the ways we engage with and embrace interfaith families.
Two Federation partnership events are squarely focused on the challenges of becoming a radically welcoming community. “Changing our community culture means being open to doing things differently,” said Eric Robbins, Federation’s president and CEO. “Only 13 percent of interfaith respondents to the 2016 Community Study strongly agreed that they feel part of a Jewish community in Greater Atlanta. We can do better! To effectively engage all Jews and their loved ones, we must create ongoing opportunities for frank discussion among our community leaders, and our interfaith families.”
The Interchange: A Modern Look at Interfaith Engagement
On April 29 and 30 Federation, in partnership with InterfaithFamily/Atlanta, will convene The Interchange, an event targeting Jewish professionals, clergy and community leaders who want to sharpen their tool kit for techniques and strategies to engage interfaith families. This will be the largest gathering in the Southeast of professionals and clergy who work in the interfaith space, with attendees coming from the local area and as far away as Philadelphia, Boston, Ann Arbor and Denver.
The Interchange opens on Monday evening April 29 with a keynote address featuring Archie Gottesman, the irreverent creator of JewBelong, an organization with a fresh take on welcoming all people to Judaism. Gottesman playfully calls herself the “co-chief-rebrander-of-Judaism,” and her agenda is to make Judaism meaningful, accessible and open to anyone, whether Jewish or not.
Following the keynote, former CNN broadcast journalist Daryn Kagan, who is in an interfaith marriage, will introduce a storytelling session, plus Q & A, about the realities and challenges facing kids, parents and grandparents in interfaith families.
The Interchange will kick into high gear on Tuesday with a full-day agenda from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Selig Center. In addition to panels and facilitated workshops, the event will feature a Marketplace of Ideas, where local organizations can share their most promising initiatives for radical welcome.
Organizations and individuals attending The Interchange will learn about grant opportunities to support innovative work on inclusion and welcome. Federation has raised $100,000 in funding for proposals in this area. Potential applicants must attend both days of The Interchange to apply.
For registration information and the full schedule for The Interchange, visit www.jewishatlanta.org/the-interchange.
Ecosystem Meetings: Weaving Community by Building Relationships
We know that the work we are doing on radical welcome cannot be done by a single organization. That’s why we plan to convene our community with regular quarterly meetings of Atlanta’s Jewish Ecosystem. Last month at Congregation Or Hadash, many of the Jewish community leaders and volunteers who participated in The Front Porch gathered for a morning of networking and conversation about what we mean when we talk about radical welcome and inclusion.
“The Ecosystem meeting was planned and implemented by a diverse group of people from 11 different Atlanta Jewish organizations. We call them Ecosystem Weavers, and they’ve been empowered to steer these meetings,” said Amy Glass, a director in Federation’s Community Planning and Impact department. “In the spirit of doing things differently, we intentionally opened the meeting with networking and encouraged everyone to introduce themselves to someone they don’t already know,” she said.
“Gathering together provides us the opportunity to build authentic and impactful relationships within our Jewish ecosystem of professionals, lay leaders and their loved ones. When we know and trust one another we are able to lay the groundwork for future collaboration and collective impact,” said Gabrielle Adler, of Moishe House, one of the Ecosystem Weavers.
In mid-May there will be another meeting open to the professional community that will continue the work on radical welcome with skill building workshops. An August Ecosystem meeting is planned to take a first dive into another Front Porch priority, making more Jewish places in Atlanta.
Atlanta is proud to be on the forefront of this groundbreaking work to build new pathways for Jewish engagement that include all Jews and their loved ones.
To learn more about the Federation’s new “radical welcome” priorities, visit www.jewishatlanta.org.