Chanukah 2018 is officially in the books. It is time to clean the wax out of your menorah, wipe the splattered oil off your stove top and try to forget how many jelly doughnuts you have eaten this week. It’s a time of giving, light and coming together to celebrate your community, and even though Chanukah is over the giving doesn’t need to end. JumpSpark is working everyday creating the sparks to enrich the Jewish teen landscape in Atlanta, and we are just getting started. 

In October of this year, JumpSpark announced its first foray into grant giving with the Spark Collaboration Grants. Collaboration is essential for a building the culture of innovation needed to raise the level of engagement for our community teens. Therefore, we offered $1000 grants for any educator, professional or organization that met the following requirements: 

  • Innovative teen (9th-12th grade) programming that expands the current programmatic landscape. 
  • Ideas that rethink what it means to prepare Jewish teens for life. 
  • Engaging and unique collaborations with Jewish or secular partners. 
  • Spaces that are pluralistic and radically welcoming. 
  • High-level Jewish learning and community building opportunities 

Out of the proposals we received, JumpSpark is funding 6 amazing new collaborations for Atlanta’s teens in the 2018-2019 school year. These collaborations bring together 11 Jewish organizations in our city and have the potential to engage 1000+ of our community teens. 

In addition to $1,000, grant winners will receive programmatic support, educational consultation and marketing assistance from JumpSpark.

Congratulations to the recipients!

Winners: NFTY-SAR & The Temple

Program: Jewish Values at NFTY-SAR Fall Kallah
The first of these grantees to run the first week in November, this program brought 200 teens to Atlanta’s premier cultural institutions including The Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke and CNN to see how Jewish values are reflected in our city.

Adam Griff, Senior Regional Director for NFTY-SAR said, “We were lucky and fortunate to partner with JumpSpark, and the Spark grant we received allowed us to do this innovative, off-site programming.”

Winners: NFTY-SAR & BBYO

Program: Teen Micro-Grant Fellowship
These two youth organizations are offering their Spark Grant to teams of NFTY & BBYO members who will work in partnership to create new programs for their less engaged peers. Teens in the program will be mentored by professional staff and receive training to learn how to develop and implement their ideas.

Winners: NFTY-SAR & 7 Atlanta Reform Congregations

Program: Spark Ambassadors
This Spark Grant is providing scholarships for teens to be Atlanta Spark Ambassadors to the 2019 NFTY Convention; after they return, each Ambassador will be responsible for hosting a pop-up event to bring an element of what they learned or or were inspired by at NFTY Convention to their peers.

Winners: NFTY-SAR & Hillels of Georgia

Program: Ma’avar at NFTY-SAR Spring Kallah
NFTY is partnering with Hillels of Georgia to fund guest speakers at NFTY-SAR Spring Kallah and elevate the opportunities for high school juniors and seniors as they transition, or  ma’avar, to  college.

Winners: American Jewish Committee (AJC) Atlanta and Southeast Jewish Camps

Program: AJC LFT at Camp
AJC and four Southeast camps (Barney Medintz, Coleman, Judaea and Ramah Darom) will create a one-time Jewish and Israel advocacy program for high school campers modeled after AJC’s Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) year-long Israel advocacy and leadership training course.

Winners: The Weber School & 6 Points Sports Academy

Program: Women’s Sports Clinic
Weber and 6 Points Sports will partner to run a day-long sports clinic for teenage females in the Atlanta area, offering different sport options and bringing in professional coaches to help lead the girls through skills, drills and leadership training sessions.

Seeing the amazing impact micro-grants could have in our community, JumpSpark is stepping it up with our next project: large-scale strategic investments into the Jewish teen ecosystem called Spark Grants that can create new programs, fund new initiatives, support programmatic growth or rethink existing models.

Do you think you’re sitting on the next big thing for Atlanta? Are you ready to finally take that risk you’ve been dreaming of? Let’s think big and build something together! Apply at


First published on eJewish Philanthropy ›

Twenty-four teens gathered at the Emory University campus in Atlanta from Oct. 26 to 28 for the second Teen Israel Leadership Institute hosted by the Center for Israel Education and the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel.

The weekend featured a mix of activities, discussions and educational games designed to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of Israel and Zionism and to help them plan learning programs back home.

The institute is part of a national CIE initiative to provide more impactful education on Israel to Jewish teens. A grant from the Legacy Heritage Fund is supporting the program.

The institute organizers therefore brought in Kelly Cohen, the director of JumpSpark, the Atlanta Jewish teen initiative, who led a highly interactive session in which teens had to develop a program goal and use a variety of variables to craft a program outline.

“We also put more emphasis on making sessions more engaging and interactive overall,” CIE Vice President Rich Walter said. “As a result, we added a Knesset simulation activity, a session on Israeli hip-hop music and several experiential games.”

For example, the students formed a human timeline representing Zionist and Israeli events from 1881 (the start of the First Aliyah) to 2007 (Hamas’ takeover of Gaza), picked out the eight prime ministers among 16 head shots, identified the Israeli locations of cat photos, and played a version of the Food Network show “Chopped” in which six teams made hummus that had to include such ingredients as wheat crackers, hot sauce and orange Gatorade.

“I have a lot of Jewish friends in NFTY. Every one of them supports Israel, but I don’t think a lot of them know about Israel too much,” said 11th-grader Eli Roberts of Marietta, Ga. “I feel like I’m going to be able to teach them and also talk to my friends in Israel.”

CIE and ISMI emphasize context and documentary evidence in the study of Israel’s issues and history but do not advocate specific views, allowing students to reach their own conclusions. To that end, CIE President Ken Stein led two sessions to help the teens own Israel’s story and confront the Israeli-Arab conflict, and the teens got to choose among two or more programs several times during the weekend. The program included the Abrahamic Reunion, a team of Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze leaders, and explored different perspectives on Israel’s independence in 1948 and diverse elements in modern Israeli culture.

Although Israel was the focus of the weekend, it also addressed anti-Semitism, a topic that took on unexpected immediacy when the massacre occurred at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha synagogue while the teens were worshiping and studying at Emory’s Marcus Hillel Center.

“It’s just a reminder that there’s always people who are not going to like us, who are not going to like people who are different from them,” Walter said during a brief discussion after Shabbat. “We’ve been living in a time period where it seems like there’s a lot of extreme views on all sides of the political spectrum, and we need to take things we hear very seriously.”

Noa Libchaber, an 11th-grader from New York, said she was amazed when the high-schoolers joined more than 100 Emory students at Hillel for Friday dinner and services. “Seeing that beautiful unification and then the next day hearing about Pittsburgh, it just made me feel really lucky to be a part of a religion that comes together with so much strength and power.”

Our second meeting for the Strong Women Fellowship was centered around self-expression, in which we also discussed female and youth empowerment.

As teenage girls, all of us who attended have struggled with expressing our true selves at some point, whether that be religion, sexuality, political beliefs, looks, etc.

Anna Wynne

Before we went to the book talk to hear Emma Gray › and Alison Yarrow › speak, we got to have a more intimate conversation with Emma. When we talked to Emma, we got to learn about her life and how she got to where she is today as a senior editor at The Huffington Post. It was really cool for me to get to know someone like her on a more personal level, rather than just knowing of her as someone who has this amazing job and has published an amazing book.

She was able to give us advice about how it is okay to not know what you want to be when you’re a teenager and how even being a camp counselor through college rather than participating in fancy internships is okay, because no matter what, you’ll be able to figure out who you are, what you want to do, and find your place in society. I feel like that advice spoke to me and the other Strong Women fellows very personally, as many of us attend summer camp and want to be able to work on staff at those camps, but are often told that in the later years of college, you should be focusing on your career rather than being a camp counselor; Emma is living proof that doing things you enjoy before becoming a full time adult is completely okay.

If I don’t help to make change, then who will?


After talking to Emma about her life, book, and favorite Netflix shows, we got to  have our own intimate conversation about being heard in society as young, Jewish women. During our conversation, I learned that I share a lot of common ground with the other fellows and feel even more connected to them now.

At the book talk that we attended after our other activities, I felt like I got to be at an in-person podcast. I learned so much about empowering myself and others, feminism today and where it originally started many years ago, and about what I can do to get my voice heard. The facts, opinions, and humor that Emma and Alison shared during the program led me to realize I’m not alone in what I believe in. No one is, really. It made me realize that I can help to make change right now and don’t have to wait until I’m able to vote. It made me realize that this nation is forever evolving and I need to celebrate all the little victories that I experience every day because it’s those that help to make a difference one day. If I don’t help to make change, who will?

It made me realize just how important young voices are, because my voice, the other Strong Women fellows’ voices, and youth voices every where are the voices of tomorrow. I left our meeting last night more empowered than I have felt in a long time and I feel as though I now have more confidence to express my true self and hope to instill that confidence in those around me. •


2019 Strong Women cohort with author Emma Gray