A Community Coming Together

January 11, 2018
24 Tevet 5778


Dear AJA Community,

Community. For me, the word evokes feelings of warmth, connection and contentment. I personally witness our community daily at AJA, every Shabbat at shul and even on social media when I see interactions and “likes” for each other’s accomplishments and announcements. (ps. Have you liked our AJA Facebook page?)

The concept of community is not a new one. When Moshe came down from Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people, his charge was to shift them from being just a crowd into being a community - a Kehillah. He assembled the people of Israel and told them the commandment to observe Shabbat and create the Mishkan (Tabernacle). (Shemot / Exodus 35)

Then and now, we realize that by sharing Tefillah (prayer), studying Torah and celebrating as a group helps create our community. In other words, sharing Shabbat. Shabbat was a community-building experience for the people of Israel. Today, being a part of our community and sharing Shabbat is vital to the strength and continued growth of Judaism - at AJA, in Atlanta and in the world.

הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר: אַל תִּפְרֹשׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר
Do not separate yourself from community. (Pirkei Avot 2:4)

There are many ways to connect with our community. One of my favorite opportunities to do so will happen on February 9 & 10 at our AJA Family Shabbaton. This time last year, we were finalizing what was to be our first ever Shabbaton. We wondered, “if we build it, will they come?”  We were amazed that we had to actually cap the registrations and sadly (based on fire codes!) turn people away.

This year, in anticipation of selling out again, we are creating new ways to maximize our new Upper School space and to create offsite opportunities during Shabbat. You won’t want to miss this incredible community program. Share some or all of Shabbat with us.

Some highlights include:

  • Lenny from Shlock Rock - a Jewish musician who teaches Jewish ideas through music
  • Tefillah and Zemirot
  • Offsite Teen Program for Upper School Students
  • Festive Family Shabbat Dinner
  • Shabbat Dinner for 8th - 12th Grade (you asked for this - we delivered!)
  • Parent-Child Tot Shabbat Program
  • New and Enhanced Programming and Activities For All Ages
  • Seudah Shlishit, Mincha, Maariv and Havdalah

We’ll update the Shabbaton website with the schedule once it’s finalized. For now - just trust me - register your family today so you don’t miss out. Shabbat Housing is available if needed, and we are grateful for our Sandy Springs families who are opening their homes to host. Toda!

Community. It is within our reach. It is right outside our doors and here under the roof of AJA. On February 9 & 10, it will be an AJA Community Shabbaton like none other!


Rabbi Ari Leubitz

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The Year in Review...

Dear AJA Community,

One of the things I love about Jewish life and the ebbs and flows of our calendar, is that it always gives us opportunities for reflection, discussion about what is really important to us as a people and as Jews.

My plan is to use this upcoming break to reflect on the first half of the school year. It’s always a joy to look back at what was amazing, and I also will note what needs additional focus for the second half. Here’s a recap into what we’ve done up to this point. Anything you want to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?

Catch a Glimpse ● College Night ● 1st Grade Surveys ● ECD Reading Buddies ● Curriculum Cafe ● Upper School Clubs ● 2nd Grade Math Night ● Bring a Friend to School Day ● Daffodils Project ● Donuts and Davening ● Upper School Move-in Day ● Whole School ECD - 12 Oneg ● AIPAC Schusterman High School Summit in D.C ● Dancing the Torahs into the Beit Midrash ● Jaguar Games ● Ribbon Cutting and Dedication ● 1st Grade Colonial Festival ● 3rd Grade Havdalah ● 7th & 8th Grade Science Fair ● AP Labs ● 6th Grade Eclipse Lab ● School Wide Eclipse Event ● 8th Grade Camp Ramah Eclipse Trip ● Lower School Gardening ● US Curriculum Night ● Mailman Visits Ganon ● Parent Toolbox Series ● L’Chaim  ● New Teachers ● US Meat Club Shawarma Lunch ● AP Physics Bridge Building ● Boys Wrestling ● Jaguar Jems Car Wash Fundraiser ● 8th Grade Roller Coaster Competition ● Service Learning ● Flex Time ● Beekeeper ECD Visit ● Hypnotist at US Shabbat ● Shabbos Dancing ● US Cholent Bowl ● 10th Grade Chemistry Lab ● Boys & Girls Basketball ● Portfolios & Pizza in the Sukkah ● Girls’ Chagiga Rehearsals ●  Sufganiyot ● Evening of the Arts ● VIP Day ● All School Chanukah Celebrations ● Community Time ● 4th Grade Hebrew Song ● New Grade Facebook Pages ● 8th Grade Scavenger Hunt ● US Chanukah Chidon ● 8th Grade Amazing Race ● Winnie the Pooh KIDS ● 6th Grade Claymation Project ● US Makerspace 3D Printing ● 5th Grade Math Games ● Dreidel Competition ● ALL AJA Drone Photo ● Friendship Walk ● US at Berman Commons ● ECD Thanksgiving Feast ● US Maccabiah Games ● 6th Grade Engineering Lab ● Israel Yeshiva & Seminary Visits ● Gan in the Sukkah ● Ganon in the Garden ● Butterfly Garden ● US Civil War History Trip to Stone Mountain ● Club Kef ● Rosh Chodesh Davening & Celebrations ● Simchat Torah Celebration ● MS Boys Soccer 5x Champs ● New Chemistry Labs ● Birla Carbon Field Trip ● 3rd & 4th Grade Grandparents Day ● LS Junior Chorus ● US College Visits ● Student Musicians at Evening of Arts ● Model UN Conference ● B’not Sherut Programs ● World Kindness Day ● World History Field Trip to Carlos Museum ● Girls Volleyball ● 9th Grade Escape Room Trip ● US Chanukah Mesibah ● New US Grade Deans ● Social Justice Field Trip ● Maimonides US Basketball Tournament in Boston ● Guest Speakers ● Buddy Oneg

`These are just some of the wonderful things we’ve done since school started in August. As I reflect, I encourage you to share your input with me and the Instructional Leaders for your child’s grade. Please feel free to share what worked and what you think needs additional attention.

When we return in January, we’ll have our longest educational run of the school year, with minimal breaks. We can all use this time to recharge, rest and rejuvenate to conquer the last half of the year!


Rabbi Ari Leubitz

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