within the jewish community
As the amount of Jews in the Atlanta community increased, there became a demand to create community and social organizations. In 1909, the Jewish Educational Alliance (link to more information on Education page) was founded and served as a community center with multiple offerings for community engagement. The JEA gave the Jewish community access to a free kindergarten, a gym, a sewing club and much more. Historically, the JEA is known for its work with immigrants, who received special attention from the group. The JEA offered nighttime citizenship classes as well as English language and American cooking classes targeted towards immigrants. The Jewish community also sought to create their own charitable organizations. In 1905, the Federation of Jewish Charities was founded with the intention of "collect[ing] money and to give allocations to constituent agencies and to determine the needs of the community" (Shankman, 137). Additionally, Jewish social organizations and clubs were some of the first Jewish groups to form in Atlanta. As early as 1880, the B'nai B'rith was formed, which was the most prestigious Jewish fraternal order. For women, the most prestigious organization was the Council of Jewish women, which often worked with the JEA to assist immigrants but also was very involved in the Atlanta community through the Atlanta Veterans hospital. Many more organizations existed and thrived for many years to follow. Interestingly, these groups often mimicked those created by the non-Jewish community but with some slight differences, which shows how Jews assimilated in the South through the creation of their own organizations (Shankman, Atlanta Jewry).
involvement in atlanta
Not only did the Jews make an effort to build their own organizations, but they also became involved in Atlanta's general civic affairs. Several Jews served on the city council, with one, Aaron Haas, becoming the city's first mayor pro tem in 1875. Jews continued to be highly esteemed in Atlanta through out the remainder of the late 19th century (Shankman, Atlanta Jewry). As discussed on the education page, members of the Jewish community were also heavily involved on the Board of Education. David Mayer, who was also a confederate civil war hero, helped to form Atlanta's Board of Education in 1872. Several Jews followed in Mayer's footsteps and served on the Board in the late 19th century and early 20th century (Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life). Additionally, the creation of the Grady Memorial Hospital was also supported by a Jewish man. Atlanta city councilman Joseph Hirsch convinced the city government that they needed a public hospital in 1890, and contributed to fundraising efforts to start its establishment (The Grady Memorial Hospital). The involvement of Jews in Atlanta's civic life continued to grow and is still important today.