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Meet Randy D. Adler and Katie Lewis of The Tzedakah Project

Today we’d like to introduce you to Randy D. Adler and Katie Lewis.

Originally from New York, Randy D. Adler is the founder of The Tzedakah Project. Following his graduation from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, he moved to Atlanta and has continued his work in the hospitality industry through his own company, Pookie Enterprises, which currently operates Babs Midtown. He has also partnered and consulted with other restaurants, chefs, and catering companies. Additionally, he has served on several non-profit boards, including Atlanta Jewish Family and Career Services, Atlanta Jewish Federation for Planning and Allocations, and the Goldstein Council. He was also selected from more than 600 applicants to earn a nomination for Incorporated Magazine as a Positive Performer Award finalist, which nationally recognizes businesses determined to excel in customer service.

Executive Director, Katie Lewis, is originally from Oregon but moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University. She was drawn to the hospitality industry and, for over ten years, has worked in various roles, including catering, event planning, and venue management. She and her fiancé live in Kirkwood and love being at the heart of the city in such a vibrant neighborhood.

Friends for nearly a decade, Randy and Katie came together in April 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to start The Tzedakah Project. Originally formed to fill an immediate need, the organization is now registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit and is working on launching its fourth initiative. As the global world around us changes, as will the projects and goals, while always remembering that “we are the company we keep.” Inspiration to begin the organization came from several places. However, the late Marcia Adler (Randy’s mother) provided immeasurable support and her passing in May 2020 led to the creation of the ongoing Tiger Lily Memorial.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
While there are always bumps in the road when starting a new company or project and it certainly isn’t ideal to start a non-profit during a global pandemic, we have been so pleased with the warm reception from our community and peers. Through strategic partners and relationships, we were able to expedite our national 501(c)(3) registration and successfully launched our website and the first project just a couple of weeks after inception. We’ve managed to maintain our momentum and are working on our fourth program in as many months and are extremely appreciative for the progress that has already been made. At this point, nearly 100% of our donations have been from individuals and an increase in funding would allow us to assist more people in the community. Currently, we are accepting “necessities” (cleaning products, personal hygiene, pet supplies, etc.) as well as financial contributions; all the information can be found on our website.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Tzedakah Project story. Tell us more about your organization.
Personally affected by the pandemic, both Randy and Katie felt a strong need to provide support for friends, neighbors, and others who previously never needed assistance. The primary goal of The Tzedakah Project was to serve an immediate need in our community and improve the lives of our program recipients and their families. As the world continues to change, so will the theme and concept of our projects.

While it can be translated as “charity,” the truer definition of tzedakah is “doing the right thing.” Through both financial and personal support, The Tzedakah Project creates internal programs and works with community groups that strive to improve the lives of individuals who are looking for a hand up rather than a handout.

The Tzedakah Project seeks to represent the two highest levels of tzedakah, as defined by the scholar Maimonides, which indicates that one gives willingly and anonymously and for the gift to make it unnecessary for the receiver to continue being dependent on others. Ultimately, the goal would be for the receiver to become able to provide tzedakah for someone else in need. Though the word “Tzedakah” comes from the Jewish faith, The Tzedakah Project is a non-denominational organization that strives to help all members of the community.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
While luck can be important, we prefer to put good energy out into the world and make positive choices for ourselves and those around us. In today’s fast-paced world, “timing is everything,” and we feel that the effort put forth is reflected in the success of our organization. And when all else fails… let the dice roll!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos taken by Randy D. Adler or Katie Lewis of The Tzedakah Project

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