|Program:||Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition, Atlanta, GA|
|Contact(s):||Ms. Sherry Frank, Southeast Area Director, American Jewish Committee: (404) 233-5501|
|Purpose:||To strengthen relations between the Black and Jewish communities by building knowledge about and support for issues within these communities|
The Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) formed the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition (ABJC) in 1982 to build support for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. After the Act was passed, the ABJC continued its work with the purpose of strengthening relationships between the Black and Jewish communities. ABJC continued to provide members of both communities with the opportunity to work together, speak out on issues and share experiences. Congressman John Lewis, who represents Atlanta in the U.S. House of Representatives, was an early supporter of this effort. ABJC's guiding belief is that the entire community benefits when the members of religious congregations grow more sensitive to diversity and more committed to stopping racism, anti-Semitism and any other form of bigotry.
ABJC gives people an opportunity to get to know each other. Over the years, ABJC has joined teens and young adults to break down stereotypes and enhance relations. The specific projects include a teen retreat, a young leader retreat, and "Dinners of Dialogue." The retreats include sessions on stereotype reduction and team building. During the retreats, each group identifies the priority issues within its community and shares it with the other group. The retreats also include sessions where participants are given an opportunity to ask questions in an anonymous, safe and honest forum. Young adults, moreover, participate in the "teach-ins," where lecturers and speakers convey inspirational messages and knowledge in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at local elementary schools. "Dinners of Dialogue" are an opportunity for adult participants in the ABJC to gather in groups of eight to 12 for informal dinners and discussions. These opportunities allow for honest communication and the building of friendships. Participants are encouraged to take what they have learned at the dinner's to their communities.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Today, 150 people are active members of ABJC, and over 600 are on its mailing list. Since its inception, ABJC has held four young leader retreats and seven teen retreats involving over 300 people. ABJC has, also, hosted 40 "Dinners of Dialogue," engaging over 500 people. Over the years, ABJC has built a diverse network of participants who continue to be supporters. This network has led to community financial support for ABJC's activities.
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