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    Why I'm Not Giving Money To Atlanta Jewish Federation This Year

    Yesterday evening, a young man called to ask for my annual Federation pledge.

    I declined.

    In Atlanta, Federation mostly raises funds and allocates them to a portfolio of local and international organizations. All of the programs in their portfolio are good, sure. Twenty percent of their allocations go to support Israel through Joint Distribution and Jewish Agency. Plus, one of the 26 organizations they fund, my family utilizes: PJ Library.

    However, nearly all of the Jewish programs that make up my family's Jewish life are not funded by Federation: Limmud Atlanta, Jewish Kids Groups, Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, and our intown Atlanta Jewish community. All of these are young organizations, near and dear to me, and I support them with my time and money.

    Plus, most of the "Atlanta-based" organizations they do fund are not in Atlanta proper -- where I and my Jewish community live -- but are in different cities North of Atlanta: Dunwoody, Marietta, Sandy Springs.

    For me, Federation is like Piccadilly Cafeteria located OTP ("outside the Perimeter") -- it's a smorgasbord where the chicken tetrazzini is ok, but I'm really not into the buttered okra, and they don't even serve my favorite: Indian cuisine. Why dine there?

    In addition, customer service at Piccadilly may be fine, but it is not so great at Federation. It's small things, like being told the photos we were submitting for "A Community Snapshot" exhibit shouldn't be from Limmud because Limmud is not Federation funded. Small things, like hearing my friends' frustration with the bureaucracy when volunteering. Unanswered emails. (Federation is not alone with unanswered emails. In 2005, Jewish Outreach Institute did a "secret shopper" experiment and requested program information from 44 Atlanta Jewish institutions; they received 24 replies.) I know, it's small stuff -- but, again, why dine there?

    Our limited money needs to go to the organizations that are important to us and are in line with our values (and our geography). Now it will.

    One last consideration: today, I had lunch with a former Federation board member and he made a very good point: continuing with my analogy... if I'm not dining at the buffet, I may forget a couple of food groups. Some of the organizations Federation funds are social services that my family doesn't use but are nonetheless important for any community to support, for example, Jewish Family and Career Services and Breman Jewish Home (for the elderly). So, point taken, our family will consider adding these into our annual donation mix, and, of course, donations can be made to them directly.

    Do you donate to your local Federation? Why or why not?

    Coming to Atlanta Feb 4-10: SoCalled...

    Hosted by Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, Socalled is a world-class artist you don't want to miss!

    From AJMF:

    "Klezmer-hip hop maestro Socalled is a musician, producer, composer, arranger, magician, filmmaker, photographer and visual artist based in Montreal.

    Born in Ottawa and raised just north of there, in Chelsea, Quebec, he grew up taking piano lessons and loving funk and hip hop. When Socalled first heard klezmer music on an old Yiddish record, he was fascinated by the cool sounds he could sample to make hip hop beats. Then he realized that integrating this Jewish music from the 1930s into his songs was a way of representing himself and his cultural heritage. It enabled him bring something of his own to funk and hip hop, giving him what he calls "a real reason to make music."

    Known for his genre-bending approach and his collaborations with musical giants of funk, klezmer, hip hop, lounge and classical music, Socalled has performed all over the world. He has released three CDs: Socalled Seder; and HipHopKhasene; and most recently, Ghettoblaster, recorded with Yiddish singer Theodore Bikel, lounge pianist Irving Fields, musician and producer Gonzalez, master clarinetist David Krakaeur, country singer Katie Moore, rapper C-Rayz Walz, and funk trombone legend Fred Wesley, among others.

    All of these wonderful lunatics, and so many more, appear in the Reframe Films/NFB The Socalled Movie"

    The Socalled Movie Premiers in Atlanta at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at The Buckhead Theatre. $20 ticket includes party, film and post-film concert featuring Socalled and Katie Moore. Party @ 6:00 PM. Program @ 7:30 PM. Buy tickets NOW >>

    Find out more about Socalled here: You can listen to a few of his tracks here: Definitely check out his most popular music video: (over 2 million hits!!)

    20 For 20 : 20% of Music CD Sales Goes to Atlanta Jewish Music Festival

    20 For 20: For the next 20 days, now through the end of Hanukkah, December 9th, 20% of's music CD sales goes to Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF).

    Atlanta Jewish Music Festival 20 for 20

    Plus, you can donate to AJMF through ModernTribe: 100% of proceeds goes to support the new and totally awesome Atlanta Jewish Music Festival.

    So -- try some new music! and help bring Atlanta the festival our fabulous city deserves.


    Lead by ModernTribe friend Russell Gottschalk and launched last year with bands: 4th Ward Afro-Klemzer Orchestra, Girls In Trouble, DeLeon, and Moshav, the burgeoning Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF) is on its way to rock Atlanta with progressive contemporary Jewish music. Our next festival is May 19-21!

    Full disclosure: I'm on the steering committee for AJMF.

    So, try some new -- great -- music + help bring AJMF -- coming MAY 19-21 2011 -- with an $18 --  $36 -- $54 donation. Shop Now!

    PunkTorah Fridays at ModernTribe

    This week's Parshat is Chayei Sarah and talks about the importance of understanding "true" love (hint: love ain't a feeling). Also featured are a video on Tallit from a feminist perspective and a "plug" for the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival from our friend Russell. Shabbat Shalom and have a beautiful weekend!

    Parshat Chayei Sarah


    Atlanta Jewish Music Festival