One of the things that I most like about the Atlanta Jewish community is that the synagogues (and other Jewish institutions) get along quite well.
This was not the case in the other cities in which I have worked, where their approach to one another ranged from apathetic to near animosity.
In part, I suspect it has to do with us living in the South, and the Jewish experience of being a minority in these states, sometimes a conspicuous one.
It is not rare to hear stories from Temple Emanu-El congregants of growing up in towns without a Jewish community, and of how their family would gladly drive more than an hour on Sundays for Religious School and to meet up with other Jews. Being Jewish in the South is an active part of our identity, and we are more aware of it than are many other geographic locations.
My experience here in Atlanta has been that this Jewish awareness is, for the most part, a very positive thing. Southern Jews are social people, and eagerly seek each other out. We put time and effort into our Jewish relationships, and have pride in the Jewish community’s role in civic leadership.
One of the most tangible examples of the Atlanta Jewish community’s cohesiveness is this Shabbat, where all the Reform synagogues will come together for one unified, communal Shabbat service. I don’t know of another major city where this happens, and it is a beautiful thing. The service itself, with many congregational rabbis and cantors sharing the leadership, is lovely… but even more important is the idea behind the evening. Regardless of where we live or worship, despite our differences, we are one community with shared history, values… and destiny.
Our Reform Movement’s Friday night Shabbat service will start at 6:00pm (not our usual 7:30pm), via Zoom, and we look forward to having you join together with other Jews from all across the city.