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Why is Alan Gross still in Cuba?

Alan Gross has been languishing in a Cuban prison since 2009.  An active member of the Potomac, Maryland Jewish community, Alan was working in Cuba as a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), attempting to provide internet access to the 2,000 members of Cuba’s Jewish community.  Alan was arrested and convicted on charges that he was a spy and that his USAID work undermined the Cuban government.

The JCRCA is joining with the JCPA to urge Atlanta’s Jewish community to join the growing national movement asking President Obama to secure Alan Gross’ release from his Cuban prison cell.  Last year a bipartisan group of 66 senators wrote to President Obama to ask him to take meaningful steps to secure Alan’s release, and recently 300 rabbis from every denomination wrote to the White House to plead for help.

We need to do more.  And we need to do it quickly because Alan’s situation is dire and getting worse.  He spends 24 hours a day in a small cell with two other prisoners.  He has lost 100 pounds and is getting weaker and weaker.  Alan recently lost vision in his right eye and no longer can walk due to severe hip pain.  His emotional health is also deteriorating rapidly.  Being separated from his wife, Judy, and their two daughters, Shira and Nina, has been devastating.  Alan’s mother died in July, and shortly after her death, Alan declared that his life in prison is not worth living.  He has said goodbye to his family and now is refusing visitors.

The picture on the left shows Alan before incarceration, and the one on the right is his most recent photo.

Alan Gross BeforeAlan Gross After


He has 10 years remaining of his 15 year sentence.

We ask that you please click HERE and sign a letter to President Obama asking “Why is Alan Gross still in Cuba?“  It will take you less than a minute, and it may help to save someone’s life.

1. Temple Sinai
2. Temple Kol Emeth
3. Temple Kehillat Chaim
4. Congregation Or Hadash
5. Congregation Gesher L’Torah
6. Anshi S’Fard Congregation
7. Congregation B’Nai Torah
8. Congregation Dor Tamid
9. Congregation Or Veshalom
10. Congregation Ner Hamizrach
11. Congregation Beth Tikvah
12. Congregation Beth Shalom

Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, was honored for his 50 years of service to the Jewish Community. Mr. Foxman, who is retiring next year, was honored at the JCPA Plenum held in Atlanta. Mr. Foxman is joined by (L-R) JCRC Atlanta President Elizabeth Appley, JCRC Atlanta Past President Harold Kirtz, and JCRC Atlanta Board Member Janice Ellin.

Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, was honored for his 50 years of service to the Jewish Community. Mr. Foxman, who is retiring next year, was joined by (L-R)JCRC Atlanta President Elizabeth Appley, JCRC Atlanta past President Harold Kirtz, and JCRC Atlanta Board Member Janice Ellin.

JCRC Atlanta Board Member Melanie Nelkin addressing the Georgia House of Representatives to declare April as Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month in Georgia.

JCRC Atlanta Board Member Melanie Nelkin addressing the Georgia House of Representatives to declare April as Genocide Prevention and Awareness month in Georgia.

Sharing the committment with the next Generation

JCRC Board Member Melanie Nelkin with local High School Students at the Georgia House of Representatives March 7th. Ms. Nelkin gave a stirring speech on the House Floor to commemorate April as Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month in Georgia.


JCRC’s Rita Bloom and Elizabeth Appley enjoy behind the scenes hard hat tour of exciting in Centennial Olympic Park – National Center for Civil and Human Rights slated to open May 22, 2014!

Jon Barash

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” – Nelson Mandela

Last night I attended the Atlanta memorial for Nelson Mandela, who died last Thursday at the age of 95.  Mr. Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary who served 27 years in prison for his campaign against the apartheid government of South Africa.  He was released from prison in 1990 at a time when the apartheid system was crumbling.  Mr. Mandela went on to become President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999; the country’s first black chief executive.  He is possibly best known for his strength of character and forgiveness through his embrace of racial reconciliation, rather than revenge, after the harsh apartheid system was brought to an end.

The memorial was put on by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, with numerous co-sponsors, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta (JCRC) of which I am a board member.  I attended as a representative of JCRC, along with Howard Friedman and Steven Chervin.  It was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College.  The memorial included reflections and tributes from civil and human rights luminaries, clergy members, government officials and business, educational and organizational representatives from the Atlanta community, including, Cedric L. Suzman (World Affairs Council), Martin Luther King III, Douglas Shipman (Nat’l Center for Civil & Human Rights), Reverend Bernice A. King, JD (The King Center), Dov Wilker (American Jewish Committee), Rabbis Mario Karpuj and Analia Bortz (Congregation Or Hadash).   Although placed in the middle of the various speakers, the headliner of the memorial (other than Mr. Mandela himself of course), had to be Ambassador Andrew J. Young, former Mayor of Atlanta, Congressman from Georgia’s 5th congressional district, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations (as well as a civil rights icon and a principal lieutenant and friend of Martin Luther King Jr.).  Ambassador Young called on the audience members, and Morehouse students in particular, to take up Nelson Mandela’s fight for equality and “complete the things that he dreamed about,” referring to inequality that still exists in both the United States and South Africa.  Here are some photos.

star-of-david images

Find Your Voice as a Leader in the Jewish Community Lean In to your volunteer life.
Women on Board” will teach you how.

Are you a volunteer at your synagogue or day school? Do you serve on a board of a Jewish agency? Are you looking for volunteer or leadership opportunities? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, “Women on Board” is for you! “Women on Board,” a program of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, has trained more than 1800 Atlanta women in leadership skills and nonprofit governance. Whether you are an experienced board member or someone looking for an increased leadership role within the Jewish community, the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta invites you to join us as we explore nonprofit boards, roles and responsibilities of board members, and how to find a board that is the perfect fit for you.

Thursday, November 7
The Selig Center, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta 30309
8:30 a.m. —12:30 p.m.

Register by October 30 at The cost is $36/person For more information, contact Rachel Wasserman at or 678.222.3716

Thank you to the Doris R. Zaban Philanthropic Fund for its generous support of this program.

Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta Trustees: Ellen Arnovitz, Teri Astren, Vicki Benjamin, Martha Berlin, Candy Berman, Kathe Brown, Marsha Cintorino, Kitty Cohen, Amanda Cohn, Carol Cooper, Laura Dinerman, Jane Durham, Janice Ellin, Ilene Engel (Chair), Renee Evans, Karen Fine Saltiel, Sara Franco (Vice Chair), Lois Frank, Pepi Friedman, Stacey Geer, Corky Gelder, Lisa Greenberg, Mitzi Greenblatt, Lynne Halpern, Lisa Haynor, Michal Hart Hillman, Etta Raye Hirsch, Michele Hirsch, Jackie Howard, Jeanie Katz, Eydie Koonin, Janet Lavine, Jan Lupuloff, Caren Merlin, Mimi Monett, Jacquie Sacks, Emily Sanders, Susan Schoenbaum, Tonia Sellers, Phyllis Silverstein, Laura Soshnik, Debbie Sonenshine, Deborah Spector, Luci Sunshine, Dede Thompson, Ronit Walker, Melinda Wertheim

The Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta expands opportunities in the lives of Jewish women and girls via effective grant-making, advocacy, and education through a gender lens. Our grants provide sustainable benefits to those we serve. We empower women to be leaders, philanthropists, and decision makers. This program is sponsored by Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.