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    Why I AM Giving Money to the Atlanta Jewish Federation This Year

    ... and more than doubled my 2010 contribution.

    My old blog post about not giving money to the Atlanta Jewish Federation (in 2011) and its criticisms, made a much bigger wave than expected. Way too often when mentioning the blog post people nod their heads in recognition. That's why I'm publicly announcing my choice to give in 2012.

    Why am I giving to the 2012 campaign?

    I'm hopeful. Atlanta has a new Federation President, Michael P. Horowitz, from Detroit. No one seems to know much about him and his affinities. However, my dollars are a hopeful vote for progress.

    Join me in donating (or increasing your donation) and speak up for progress: continued movement toward an open, transparent, authentic, inclusive, efficient, highly-functional and unified Jewish community in Atlanta, GA. 

    Looking forward to a growth-filled 5772,

    Shana Tova,

    Jennie Rivlin Roberts

    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?

    LA and DC are Going All Spin!

    Saturday (after sundown, of course) we are proud to be part of two Hanukkah events happening on separate ends of the country. No Limit Texas Dreidel will be played, tournament style, at the Los Angeles Federation Young Leadership Division's Chanukah Bash at the X Bar in Century City and the Young Professionals' Kesher Hanukkah Party of Washington DC at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.

    Jon Layne of Party Layne, a very popular event production company in LA and Detroit, found NLTD through our Heeb Magazine promotions. He excitedly called and asked how he could integrate NLTD into the annual event which expects 300-400 young adults. I shipped Jon a game and since then he has become sort of a NLTD evangelist because he loves the game so much. Check out Party Layne's Blog to keep up with party trends.

    The Young Professional's Kesher of DC is having all 50 expected guests play NLTD at the same time! The winner and runner up get E-Gift Cards.

    These events are playing NLTD tournaments in very different ways too. Read here about two ways to do NLTD Tournament Style.

    Check back for pictures from these events.