Havinagala Recap + Even More for Young Professionals at JF&CS

February 21, 2024

Havinagala Recap + Even More for Young Professionals at JF&CS

Havinagala 2024 kicked off the year of Young Professional (YP) opportunities at Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) with a party of epic proportions on January 27.

Havinagala 2024 Recap:

A bustling crowd of more than 400 people came out to 'Party for PAL' at Havinagala, raising more than $50,000 for the Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program. The immersive experience at Illuminarium Atlanta was the newest iteration of the highly-regarded annual event. Since it began 34 years ago, Havinagala has been the largest event of its kind for Jewish Young Professionals, and it’s a much-anticipated opportunity to connect with like-minded peers who have a passion for getting involved and serving their Jewish community. This year in particular, Havinagala was a beautiful picture of unity amid the war in Israel and antisemitism worldwide.

Ari Weitz is a former Big PAL, and serves as the PAL Committee Chair this year.

“The highlight of Havinagala was getting to catch up with two different generations,” said Ari. “From the people who play a day-to-day role in the PAL Program at JF&CS and on the PAL Committee, along with the younger generation. It was great to see so many people from different surroundings under one roof.”

Zak Koffler is also a former Big PAL and attended alongside his former Little PAL, Jacob, for the first time this year. “I think that might have been my 15th time going to Havinagala, and it was awesome to see Jacob attend his first!” said Zak. “We’ve kept in touch but hadn’t seen each other since the beginning of COVID, and it was surreal to see him having started his career, with a girlfriend, and drinking a cocktail!”

New this year was the VIP event which took place before the official party. Nate Rubin, the 2024 Joel Libowsky Big PAL of the Year, was honored among other VIP guests, including former and current Big PALs and of-age former Little PALs.

We could not have ushered in the new era of Havinagala without the dedicated individuals who served as Chairs and on the Committee. Thank you to Event Co-Chairs Brooke Berman & Emma Rinzler, and Auction Chair Charlie Burstiner. Thank you to our committee members Kaylin Berinhout, Logan Botnick, Drew Eichel, Ethan Fialkow, Jared Kerker, Sarah Koplin, Jonathan Olens, Samantha Paulen, Jojo Rinzler, Nate Sauer, Daniel Schwartz, Jessie Schwartzman, Adam Segal, Allison Sherman, Eric Silver, Justin Silver, Danielle Spelfogel, Zoë Toporek, and Bailee Yoels.

Thank you to our generous sponsors: Diamond: Illuminarium; Platinum: Jeckil Promotions, Inc., Perennial Properties; Gold: Freeman Partners; Silver: Atlanta Fever Entertainment; Copper: Byron & Rennette Kopman, Debbie & Doug Kuniansky, Keith Rinzler, The Weber School; Bronze: Button It Up, The Epstein School, Brett Feldman, Financial Innovations LLC, LiquidSky, NextGen Federation; Big PAL: Zane Blechner, The Enoch Family, Jason Feldman, The Fialkow Family, Betty Garrett, David Kuniansky, Zak Koffler & Luca Anic, Martin Libowsky, Michael & Susan Londe, Emma Rinzler, The Tarica Family, The Temple, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Sinai, The Joyce and Ramie Tritt Family Foundation; Little PAL: Brooke Berman, Judy & David Eichel, Jody & Michael Feldman, Dana & Larry Freiman, Habif Properties, Robbie Hart, Hartman Simons, Robin & David Perlis, Sam Perlman, Bobby & Renee Rinzler, Abby Siegel, Anne & Paul Silver, Ari & Rachel Weitz, Karen & Tom White.

PAL-ing Around

The PAL program connects YP mentors with kids ages 5-17. The Big PALs become an important presence in the lives of their Little PALs, providing social support for children and families dealing with a variety of circumstances, e.g. children who have a deceased or estranged parent, single parent by choice households, and other circumstances. The pairs spend time together twice a month, and the relationships benefit both parties equally.

“People find that while they give so much to their Little PALs, they receive even more,” said Sarah Bernstein, JF&CS’ PAL & Young Professionals Program Manager. “The kids help them develop life skills that you don’t get from college and work, things like patience, strength and having hard conversations.”

“I grew immensely during my time mentoring my Little PAL,” said Ari. “I came into the PAL Program not knowing what to expect – my primary goal was to provide a few hours of refuge for my Little PAL every week or two. He had just entered middle school and was very shy. Little did I know that we would still be in touch on a regular basis almost 12 years later!”

“One of the main lessons I learned is that you should treat everybody the same way you want to be treated because you never know what somebody else is going through,” continued Ari. “If somebody is considering becoming a Big PAL, I would tell them that while it requires a small sacrifice (primarily in the form of time), the dividends are immense. I never realized how gratifying it would be to help out somebody else, even if only in a small way.”

Zak concurred with Ari’s sentiments. “If someone is considering becoming a Big PAL, I would encourage them to not overthink it and just do it,” he said. “It may sound daunting to make a long-term commitment to be in a kid’s life, but it’s fun and rewarding.”

What’s Next at JF&CS for Young Professionals:

Young Professionals Networking Happy Hour:

JF&CS is hosting a more intimate chance to connect potential volunteers with our YP opportunities on Wednesday, February 28, at our Ben Massell Dental Clinic in Midtown. Come to meet the volunteer team, enjoy sips and bites, and hear about all the ways to get involved! RSVP

Young Professionals Executive Functioning Program:

We’re hosting a three-part workshop series designed for adults in their 20’s and 30’s who are interested in developing their executive functioning alongside their peers. Dr. Marlena Reese and Madeleine Lawson will lead sessions on March 27, April 10, and May 1 from 6-8 p.m. During these interactive group meetings, participants will explore core values, reassess personal and professional goals, and learn time mapping skills to optimize daily and weekly routines. This series integrates clinical and coaching expertise to guide participants toward greater alignment and clarity for navigating their busy lives. Cost is $150. For more information, email Dr. Reese, mreese@jfcsatl.org, and to register, click here.

To learn more about our volunteer opportunities tailored to your interests and schedule, reach out to Megan Koziel, our Volunteer Engagement Manager, at mkoziel@jfcsatl.org. To learn more about PAL, contact Sarah Bernstein, PAL and Young Professional Program Manager, at sbernstein@jfcsatl.org. To subscribe to our volunteer newsletter, click here.