Since Atlanta and Yoqne’am Illit and Megiddo are partnership cities, Yonatan and Stella have created local guides for their hometowns. We hope you enjoy getting to know the cities better from the perspective of high school Jewish teenagers! By Yonatan Cohen & Stella Mackler, May Amplifying Israel Teen Fellows

Everything to do and see in Atlanta!

Atlanta is an incredible city. It has a rich and complicated history which is evident throughout the city.  In this guide, you will find great sight-seeing spots, delicious restaurants, historic neighborhoods and so much more!

Dining

Where to find that necessary cup of coffee: One of my favorite cafes in Atlanta is Apotheos Roastery, formerly known as San Francisco Coffee. They have two locations, and one of them happens to be super close to where I live! They roast, brew, and bag their own beans and offer classic drinks like lattes and cappuccinos alongside a rotating seasonal menu. They also serve pastries fresh out of the oven and offer breakfast toast, sandwiches, and other local products like King of Pops.

Lunchtime bite: Take a quick but filling stop for lunch at Mediterranean Grill (aka Med Grill). They are 100% Halal (except for the gyros) and serve many familiar favorites like hummus, pita wraps, lentil soup, and so much more. The greek potatoes are a particular standout. Its a common site to see people walking around with takeout containers filled with just that. Med Grill is perfectly located across the street from Piedmont Park and the Beltline, making it a convenient spot for your day of exploring.

Dinner: For the last meal of the day, make your way to Doc Cheys, somewhat of a hidden gem in the neighborhood of Morningside. They serve a wide array of pan-Asian fare with ever-changing weekly specials. I have grown up spending Saturday nights with the grandparents and friends here, and it’s not just because of the food. The sense of community the restaurant welcomes you with is impossible to miss. The waiters there are the same ones that have been there since I was seven years old and the takeout guy and I are on a first name basis. Some notable dishes include the thai peanut salad and the mongolian stir fry. Doc Cheys is vegetarian/vegan friendly and most dishes can be served with tofu.

Sightseeing/touristy spots

The Beltline: The Beltline is “a sustainable redevelopment” project that will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar, and parks – all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta. The Eastside trail is my recommended starting place. It is covered with murals and other forms of public art. There is a skate park, playground, and it often hosts festivals, like the lantern parade.

Ponce City Market: Ponce City Market is a multi-use building with shopping, fitness, and a dining hall all in one. It is located inside a former Sears factory and is conveniently right off the Beltline. There are some great shops, like Citizen Supply and Modern Mystic, and places to grab a bite, like St.Germain Bakery. There is also an amusement park and restaurant on the roof, with very pretty views at night.

Piedmont Park: Of all the places to see on this list, Piedmont Park is the one you absolutely cannot skip. The greenspace is the perfect place for a walk by the lake, a picnic, an exercise day, or just plain old people watching. It stretches from tenth street into the heart of midtown and is the site of the Music Midtown festival in the fall. There is a farmers market there every Saturday morning, and festivals are a common occurrence in the summer.

Historic Neighborhoods

Virginia Highlands (VaHi): Named after the intersection of Virginal Avenue and North Highland Avenue, the VaHi neighborhood is famous for its historic houses built between the 1910s-1930s.

Old Fourth Ward (O4W): O4W is located just east of downtown and is the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.America’s best known civil rights leaders.  It is also home to a giant park, Historic Fourth Ward Park, which includes a skate park, splash pad, and outdoor theater. Many of the best restaurants in Atlanta are located within O4W.

Sweet Auburn: This area is a historic African American neighborhood and was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1976. The first Black newspaper in the US, the Atlanta Daily World, began in Sweet Auburn. The neighborhood is also home to 4 prominent Black churches, the Civil Right Walk of Fame, and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.


What Can You Do in Yoqne’am Illit?

Yoqneam is a small city in northern Israel.  It’s about 20 kilometers from the city of Haifa and about 80 kilometers from Tel-Aviv. The city is located alongside Israel’s main highways – highway 70 and highway 6, enabling you to reach the center of Israel and its northern areas quickly. Yoqneam is known as “Israel’s Startup Village,” because its’ hi-tech hub is surrounded by forest and small communities.  Yoqneam was founded in 1950 and became a city in 2007. Yoqneam is an attractive city to many young families who seek to live in a small and quiet, village-like place, yet enjoy all the things a city can offer, as described below.

Shopping in Yoqneam

Yoqneam has several shopping centers that include a mall and an open shopping domain where you can find famous clothing shops, supermarkets, homeware, hardware shops and more. All of them offer free parking, which shoppers find very convenient.

Dining in Yoqneam

Yoqneam has a few well-known restaurants, coffee shops and food and beverage counters you can enjoy.  One of the most popular restaurants in the city is “BBB,” which is an exclusive burger diner where people from all over Israel come to eat.

Sport in Yoqneam ⚽

If you’re looking to keep in shape while in Yoqneam, you have come to the right place. Yoqneam offers a big country club where you can go to the gym, train at different sport classes, such as: Pilates, Yoga, Zumba and more, and swim in an outdoor or an indoor pool.  Aside of the country club, you can find a big gym at the mall and a smaller one at the industrial area.

Culture in Yoqneam

If you’re fond of shows and plays, you can come to Yoqneam theatre.  This theatre hosts popular shows and actors from all over Israel. There is a miniatures museum and a winery.

Since Yoqneam is mentioned in the Bible, there is archeological evidence that the area exists for 3,500 years.  In the new archeological visitors center, you can find items aged thousands of years which tell the story of the city with its rich past.

Nature in Yoqneam

Yoqneam was built on a hill in the middle of nature, therefore, nature surrounds all its areas. There are wide parks where you can take a walk or just sit by the pond and relax.  There is a stream that runs through the city where you can walk beside it.  There is a big forest and a spacious field area where you can hike and ride a bike.

I was born in Israel and have been living in Israel my whole life.  As an Israeli teen, I am required to take part in a volunteering activity at school, and there are different kinds of volunteering activities to choose from.  I chose to be a young “Shelach” guide. “Shelach” stands for “Field Nationality Society”. Being a young “Shelach” guide means to learn about Israel – its history, places, and society through touring the country.

Throughout the “Shelach” activities I experienced camp life, including:  Building tents, cooking in the field and lighting a fire.  We also get a taste of life in the army as we practice discipline, basic training, and work as a member of a team to accomplish tasks.  We are also being trained on different subjects, and as we grow older, we may become trainers ourselves.

We are also very much involved in community life, where we support and assist our community whenever needed.

I am proud to be a young “Shelach” guide being able to contribute to my country.  Whenever I achieve a goal or finish a mission, I feel proud of myself and my team.  I enjoy the activities and the tours we have very much, and I feel satisfied that I can train younger teens, strengthen their connection to Israel and teach them to love the country and the Israeli life. 

It’s Monday morning. My alarm goes off at 6:15 am, which is too early. Way too early. But for me, this is just the start of a normal day. I like to run in the mornings, so I have to get up this early to make sure I have enough time to be in the car on the way to school by 8:10. I roll out of bed and get ready to go, passing the mezuzah on my bedroom door frame, then my front door, taking off down the street as the run begins to peek through the clouds. I love running in the morning. It’s a stress reliever, a break, a time all to myself. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, or music, or nothing at all. I pass the same people each morning, the walking mom in the bright colored tank top, the men who run together, the man waiting for the Marta bus on the corner. My morning runs are one of the only constants in my life, and they bring me a great sense of peace. 

When I get back to my house after about an hour, it’s time to get ready for the day. I grab some breakfast, which normally consists of oatmeal with a banana, and of course a cup of coffee. I call out to my brother, who is perpetually late, that I am leaving whether he is ready or not. He normally makes it to the car door before I’m out of the driveway. Then we are off to school. It’s about a 10 minute drive to my high school.I go to an inner city school so it’s a pretty diverse place, but there aren’t that many Jews, maybe me and about 5 or 6 other people in my grade. This means I often have to deal with tests on high holidays and pointed stares whenever we study the Holocaust. Even so, my school remains one of the most accepting environments I’ve ever found myself in. I feel lucky when I say I’ve never felt like an outsider or unwelcome in any way because of my Judaism.

I am a junior and my brother Meyer is a freshman. We don’t see each other much during the day, but then again, I don’t see many people during my school day. Because of the pandemic, classes were all online for the majority of this school year. When school reopened in February, only about 15% of students chose to come back. Out of my four classes, the biggest one has four people aside from me. Everyone else is at home. 

At the beginning of every class I log on to Zoom. Even though I am back in school, due to the fact that the majority of students are not, we still conduct classes all online. We have an hour-long break for lunch, which is nice. I spend that in my photography class. I’m the only one in that class who went back to school in person. There used to be one other boy there with me, but he was a senior and he graduated so now it is just me and my teacher. I’m fine with that though, I like my teacher and I enjoy the time I get to spend talking with her. My youngest brother’s bar mitzvah was during the first week of May, so I’ve been telling her all about that. I read Torah and I didn’t mess up! My family was super lucky because we actually were allowed to invite guests to the service (we had 50 people). 

Celebrating my brother’s Bar Mitzvah

At the end of the school day, which is at 3:30, I walk out to the parking lot and wait for Meyer to meet me in my car. Sometimes I have to bring some of his friends home too, a lot of them live in our neighborhood. I like to drive with the windows down, especially since it’s gotten warmer out. There is this really pretty street that we drive down on the way home, it’s lined with cute houses and there is a park too, but my favorite part is all the trees that flower in the spring.

Once we get home, I start on my homework, or mock trial, or my school newspaper article, or anything else that needs to get done. Friday nights are different though. On Friday nights (on the rare chance that all five of my family members are home for dinner) we gather around the table over my mom’s homemade challah. We do the brachah over the candles, the wine, the children, and of course the delicious bread. Then we sit down to a home cooked meal made by my mom and myself, and we enjoy our time together. 

Alexa Freedman and Julia Harris, Strong Women Fellows, co-authored this article originally published in VOXATL.


As anyone who struggles with mental illness knows, it is hard to love your brain and appreciate your mind, when you know that in some cases it is the root of your issues. However, Pamela Schuller, an internationally known disability and mental health advocate and professional standup comedian, has learned to love her brain and embrace what makes her different.


In March, JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship got to hear from Schuller. She has an incredibly interesting story and used hilarious anecdotes to tell it. When she was young, Pamela had the worst diagnosed case of Tourette Syndrome in the country. Pamela says she loves Tourettes; it’s the best neurological disorder she could have asked for, she told us. 

How, you may ask, did she make it to this point? It was a long journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and unfortunately, pain. For a long time, Pamela said, she believed she was a waste of space; she struggled with being an outsider and with her disability defining her. When asked to write something she loved about herself, she was unable. Throughout the years, however, with help from therapists, friends, and community, Pamela has learned that she is more than her diagnosis and has so much to give to the world.

Throughout our session, Pamela shared many funny stories from her childhood experiences, but each one taught a lesson. She certainly faced many hardships growing up, including having a broken neck and several broken bones due to her tics, but she chose not to focus on those when telling her story. For example, she shared how one night, she was barking (this happens when she is excited), and a neighbor complained about her having a dog in their no-pet complex. Pamela said she absolutely mortified the landlord, who had come to explain the rule, when she said the barking was her. The landlord promised to never come to her if anyone else complained again, and according to Pamela, she went out and got a dog right after. This funny story really stuck with me, since instead of being upset Pamela really made the most out of the situation.

She was once told that her case of Tourette’s Syndrome was one of the worst, but today she uses her own story in hopes of inspiring others. Pamela taught a very important lesson to the Strong Women Fellowship: Every person has struggles, but every person still adds so much value to the world. If allowed, a perceived disability or illness can add wonderful things to a person’s life. It is possible to balance struggling and loving oneself at the same time.

Alexa’s takeaway: As someone who has struggled with mental illness her whole life, it was so empowering for me to hear Pamela talk about all the ways she has embraced her diagnoses and let them enrich her life, instead of taking away from it. It gave me a lot of hope to see Pamela thriving and having so much self-love because of the way she has transformed her diagnoses into blessings instead of burdens. Pamela’s journey is proof that with help and hard work, it is possible to break down defining barriers and rewrite who you are and how you want to live.

Julia’s takeaway: Pamela taught us so many valuable lessons and made me feel nothing but proud of who I am and what makes me different. I learned the importance of celebrating our differences, and her unique outlook really spoke to me. I also recognized how impactful it is to advocate for others who cannot do so for themselves, or else the pointing and laughing will continue. Sometimes I refrain from doing things that will make me stand out in fear of being judged, but I now realize that standing out is really special, and that there is no point in only considering others and not myself. It was so reassuring to know how much greatness came out of Pamela’s tough situation, and this made me think with a much more positive outlook. I now know that what might seem like an unbearable situation for me has to have some upsides; it just may take a little digging. Pamela Schuller — a Jewish, 4-foot 6-inch woman with Tourette’s (or, as she calls it, “the trifecta”), taught me so much from the little time spent with her. I will certainly be passing on her story and using her advice in my daily life.


Alexa Freedman is an 11th grader at The Galloway School, and Julia Harris is a 10th grader at Dunwoody High School. Both are second-year Fellows and Peer Leaders for the JumpSpark Strong Women Fellowship.