Jay Kessler’s contributions as a hands-on volunteer are impressively far-reaching and diverse. He says it all started in high school when he joined The Devoted Sons of Israel at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center, a teen club well-known for community service, in addition to sports and social activities.
Looking for volunteer opportunities, Jay read about a Pryor Street public school seeking help with mentally challenged kids. He worked one-on-one with a young man to achieve a seemingly unattainable goal: the writing of his own name. The effort was successful, and it was a turning point for both of them. Jay decided, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it in the Jewish Community.” As a result, he became active in the AJCC Very Special People program, an acclaimed and essential group, where his activities included a baseball team, The Scrappers, and Shabbat dinners. Jay and his wife, Judy, have maintained a close connection with this group for thirty years.
Over several decades, Jay and Judy devoted countless hours to the AJCC. He chaired pivotal committees for the unforgettable Galas, and amazing Israel Expo, a complex, labor-intensive and spectacular undertaking. While Judy decorated and completely transformed the Peachtree JCC for these events, Jay worked on logistics and fundraising. He was elected to the JCCA Board of Directors and then served on the Executive Board.
Jay understood the significant connection between the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center and offered his services to the Federation in order to “be a bridge” between the two organizations. He was committee chair for several Super Sundays and worked on various other committees, his favorite being the Continuity committee. Torah Day School and Temima, The Jean and Richard Katz High School for Girls, are other grateful beneficiaries of Jay’s time and energy.
Learning the essential work of JIFLA, Jay was immediately drawn to its mission of solving financial problems with a loan, thereby generating self-respect, fiscal responsibility and financial independence as the loan is repaid. The recurring theme of his many areas of community service has always been to enable others to become independent and to thrive. It is a perfect match… JIFLA is the place, and Jay is the person.