Since 1980 the Pinch Hitter program, organized locally by the Achim/Gate City  (Atlanta) Lodge of B’nai B’rith International and currently chaired by Harry Lutz, has traditionally provided volunteers to work in non-medical positions in area hospitals and senior care facilities on Christmas Day to give employees the day off to spend with their families.

Harry Lutz & Phil Hayet-STJ

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, B’nai B’rith Atlanta celebrated the 39th year of the Pinch Hitter program in a slightly different format when we debuted the B’nai B’rith Pinch Hitters Gift of Talent Extravaganza in 2020. We took a different approach to bring a smile and enjoyment to the patients and residents that enjoyed our Pinch Hitter visits over the years. We created the B’nai B’rith 2020 Gift of Talent Extravaganza video which was made available to hospitals and senior living facilities to entertain residents and patients on Christmas Day.

We had hoped to be able to bring back the Pinch Hitter Program “live” to hospitals and senior centers in 2021 for the 40th year of the Pinch Hitter program.  However, because of the recent and rapid spread of infections caused primarily by the delta variant of the coronavirus, we have concluded that it is safer for our volunteers and those we serve to instead prepare another Gift of Talent video program. We have again created a pre-recorded video that we have made available to hospitals and senior living facilities to entertain residents and patients on Christmas Day 2021. The video also acknowledges, celebrates, and thanks the essential workers at these locations who have been on the job throughout this pandemic and been a lifeline to seniors, patients, and families who have been impacted by COVID-19.

We’re so excited for you to see the diverse talent we’ve assembled. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and light-filled New Year. Enjoy the show!

Thanks to our contributors: Joe Alterman; Sheri & Bill Eppright; Paula Fine; Teresa & Ross Friedman; Mitchell Frye, Chick Herman, Mike Rostin & Jim Wile (Trombone Quartet); Dan Harrison; Ian Hurewitz; Helene & Michael Kates (Baal Shem Tones); Bill Loventhal; Hayley Lutz; Evan Schneiderman; Richard Siegel; Rabbi Mark Zimmerman

About B’nai B’rith

Achim_ Gate CITY (Atlanta) LodgeB’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens, and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.

B’nai B’rith International is widely respected as one of the world’s largest Jewish membership organizations promoting human rights, community action, and humanitarian efforts. Tikkun Olam is a concept that is an integral part of being Jewish. Loosely translated, it refers to our obligation to repair the world, to make the world a better place in which to live, work, and play. What we in BBI do is in keeping with Tikkun Olam.

The B’nai B’rith Achim/Gate City Lodge, established in 1870, is one of the oldest B’nai B’rith lodges. At the local level, we organize and promote volunteer community service programs, including Pinch Hitters.

Our Pinch Hitter program provides hundreds of volunteers in Atlanta area hospitals and assisted living facilities to relieve Christian employees from non-technical, non-medical duties on Christmas Day so they can celebrate their holiday with their families. The Pinch Hitter program started in 1980 with 18 volunteers at one facility-Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. We didn’t operate the program in 1983 when Christmas came on Shabbat and one more year as well, but in the 90s we began to conduct the program on either Friday or Sunday in those years when Christmas fell on Saturday to ensure continuity so that in 2019 we celebrated the 38th year of the program.  In 1990, President George H.W. Bush recognized this program as his 335th Point of Light Award.

Additional local B’nai B’rith programs include:

  • Enlighten America, our annual Essay Contest for students (7th – 9th grades) encourages respect and tolerance of our friends’ and neighbors’ diverse religious beliefs and their racial and cultural backgrounds.
  • Unto Every Person There Is a Name— At the Georgia State Capitol, we read aloud names of actual victims of the Holocaust to help people realize the enormity of the 6 million individual lives lost. This nationally observed B’nai B’rith program generally occurs in May around Yom HaShoah.
  • B’nai B’rith Cares for Kids — We deliver new and gently used stuffed animals to children in hospitals and homeless shelters as well as police departments. Since 1997 we have distributed more than 20,000 furry friends to these children and brought countless smiles to their faces.

To donate to the programs and activities of our lodge, you can click on our GIVING FUND PAGE at  Log in or sign up for PayPal so 100% of your donation reaches us and contributes to our mission.

Stay tuned to Facebook and our lodge Atlanta Jewish Connector organizational page for more details.

This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and Atlanta Jewish Connector assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here.