Wake Up to the Needs of Women and Girls During the High Holidays, the shofar echoes throughout the walls of our synagogues and temples, reminding us to wake up, to take an account of our actions and to commit to being better in the year ahead. For us as individuals, this might mean being more patient with our children, being more generous with our volunteer time, or committing to be less judgmental and more loving. For us as a greater Jewish community, there is also much for us to wake up to, to take an account of and to commit to improving. We must wake up to the fact that “chained women” (agunot) in our community, both locally and around the world, are trapped in marriages by husbands who will not grant their wives a legal Jewish divorce. As a community, we must acknowledge that this is a form of abuse and commit to supporting these women and prevent future agunot through education and advocacy.
We must wake up to the fact that women working full time in Georgia earn, on average, 70 cents for every dollar men earn. The gender wage gap is even wider once part-time workers are considered. As a community of organizational and business leaders, we must take an account of our own institutions and commit to eliminating the gender wage gap by compen-
By Rachel Wasserman Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta
sating equal work with equal pay. We must wake up to the fact that nearly one in five undergraduate women will experience attempted or completed sexual assault before graduation, and we must understand that our Jewish daughters and granddaughters are not immune. We must commit to preventing sexual assault
by educating our sons and daughters about healthy relationships and by encouraging them to be active bystanders if they witness a potential crime. We must wake up to the fact that many of Atlanta’s Jewish institutions are still not offering paid parental leave, limiting the economic and career possibilities of their employees. We must commit to investing in those who run our congregations, teach our children and plan the programs we attend by providing supportive work environments where they can care for elderly parents, sick spouses or new babies without taking unpaid time off. To address these issues, as well as the myriad issues affecting Jewish women and girls, we must talk about them in our community. Then we must commit to eliminating them. At Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, over 100 female philanthropists are pooling their time, treasure and talent to facilitate social change for Jewish women and girls with strategic grant-making, education and advocacy through a gender lens. We operate
as a giving circle, where women work collaboratively to effect change in the areas of economic empowerment, girls and youth, leadership development, violence against women, legal security, and educational advancement. In our first four years, we have granted nearly $350,000 to secure a safe, healthy and equitable future that is full of possibility. No other organization is as exclusively and passionately dedicated to the advancement of Jewish women and girls in Atlanta and around the world. This Rosh Hashanah, as the shofar reminds us to wake up, take an account and commit to change, please join Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta by investing in our community’s girls and women. You can learn more by visiting our new website at www. jwfatlanta.org or by reaching out to me directly at 678-222-3716. L’shana tova u’metuka. ■ Rachel Wasserman is the executive director of Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.
Playing Defense City by City, State by State On Rosh Hashanah, we not only reflect on the past, but also look ahead to the future. That’s something American Jewish Committee has done since its founding 110 years ago and more than 70 years ago in Atlanta — seeking to build a future of peace and security for Jewish communities around the world. Today, as we look to the future, we face extraordinary challenges: an alarming rise in anti-Semitism, growing radicalism and extremism, and constant assaults on Israel’s very legitimacy. In Atlanta, we have worked purposefully and diligently to achieve tangible results on these issues:
SEPTEMBER 30 ▪ 2016
Assaults on Israel’s Legitimacy AJC is determined to confront and expose BDS — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which seeks to isolate and ultimately destroy Israel. In June we launched a new initiative: Governors United Against BDS. Through this campaign, 21 governors, including Georgia’s Nathan Deal, have already gone on record condemning BDS and demonstrating their states’ 78 steadfast support for Israel.
Nationally, AJC helped secure passage of anti-BDS legislation in several states, among them California,
By Greg Averbuch and Dov Wilker American Jewish Committee
Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. Now we are working toward federal legislation. Also, AJC provided legal assistance that proved indispensable in blocking the multicampus University of California system from boycotting Israel, just as we defended student leaders — Jewish and non-Jewish — who were targeted by BDS activists. Countering Extremism After news broke that a leading charity was funneling money to Hamas, AJC Berlin learned that the German government was one of the charity’s funders. AJC demanded a suspension of the funding, setting off a chain of events that induced the German government to do just that. Hamas wasn’t the only terror
group AJC Berlin took on. Acting on a legal brief commissioned by AJC, the Berlin State Senate banned the display of Hezbollah insignia at the city’s annual pro-Iran/anti-Israel Al-Quds rally and issued wide-ranging restrictions on anti-Semitic banners and chants. Through our local office in Atlanta, we continue to meet with members of the consular corps to counter the voices of radicalism and champion democratic values. Combating Global Anti-Semitism AJC created the largest public statement against anti-Semitism in history with our Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism campaign. To date, more than 500 European and American mayors, representing over 150 million people, have signed a pledge to combat any and all forms of anti-Semitism in their jurisdictions, including the exploitation of opposition to Israeli policies to promote anti-Semitism. We are fortunate that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was one of the first mayors to sign and was joined by the mayors of Augusta, Decatur, Johns Creek, Macon-Bibb County, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Savannah, as well as mayors from Alabama, Louisiana,
Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Looking Toward the Future AJC is tackling the challenges and meeting the opportunities of the 21st century. Over the past year, AJC has begun writing the next chapter in MuslimJewish relations, bringing Muslim leaders from Africa, Asia and the U.S. to see Israel firsthand. These complement our continued efforts to meet with the diverse Muslim community that we have in Atlanta and advise Jewish communities across the Southeast how they can do the same. Such breakthroughs are possible only because of friends like you. So during the High Holidays, as you contemplate the past and reflect on what’s to come, consider the difference you can make through AJC in building a safer and more peaceful future. Your AJC Atlanta family thanks you for your ongoing support and friendship and wishes you and yours a happy, healthy and sweet new year. ■ Greg Averbuch is the president and Dov Wilker is the regional director of AJC Atlanta.