BAMAH: Merging Culture, Diversity and Arts
The Molly Blank Fund (the Fund), an extension of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, supports causes and organizations that our chairman’s mother believed in. The Fund’s investment strategy includes a focus on Jewish causes emphasizing social justice and interfaith coalitions.
With that focus in mind, the Fund recently awarded a $75,000 grant, payable over two years, to BAMAH, an independent non-profit arts platform providing opportunities for artists from Israel to develop and teach their work; promote creative innovation, mutual respect and understanding; and inspire a more inclusive, respectful and tolerant society. BAMAH helps communities design meaningful experiences that harness the power of culture from Israel to inspire and connect people of all ages, genders, racial identities and backgrounds.
The grant specifically funded an artist-in-residence at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 academic years.
BAMAH has been creating opportunities in Atlanta that merge culture, diversity and the arts, such as sponsoring actor, writer and community activist Shai Ferdo’s residency at CAU. Ferdo is one of the lead actors in the movie “Live and Become” and “Exodus 91.” Both films have been included in the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and share dramatic stories of Israel’s efforts to extract and absorb Ethiopian Jews during Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.
Ferdo has played dozens of roles in theater, film and on television in Israel. He was the co-founder the first Ethiopian theatre in Israel, and he is the producer and artistic director of the largest Jewish, Black and Ethiopian cultural festival in Israel. The opportunity to bring his credentials and wealth of knowledge to CAU was possible because of the Fund’s grant.
Through its Visiting Israeli Artists Program, BAMAH announced in March that Ferdo would lecture and teach classes at the CAU Department of Theatre and Communication Studies.
Ferdo served as the artist-in-residence for a semester at CAU. Through semester-long, full-credit academic art courses, the program enabled students and members of the community to engage in meaningful discussions on Israeli society and culture.
Flo Low, Director of BAMAH is in Israel for the summer, preparing the artists for next year’s residencies. “Thanks to the Molly Blank Fund, BAMAH brought Artist Shai Ferdo and his family to Atlanta for the Spring semester, where he shared his culture, heritage and family’s legacy with the campus community and inspired students and faculty alike through the inaugural Abesa Festival of Ethiopian Jewish and Israeli Culture. Over the course of his residency, Shai’s talent, warmth and kindness united members of the communities he encountered in compassion and understanding, creating a strong foundation for people to bond and thrive across differences.
The support and guidance of the Fund’s expert staff have been crucial to BAMAH’s success. From welcoming us to the community with open arms, to introducing us to additional valued partners, all while thoughtfully listening to and responding to our needs as we continue to expand and deepen our work in and beyond Atlanta, we feel deeply fortunate to have such generous and respected partners in vision, thought and action, and are deeply honored to be partners in advancing Molly’s proud legacy.”