On Nov. 3, more than 400 movers and shakers heralded the American Jewish Committee’s National Human Relations Award Gala at Buckhead’s St. Regis Hotel, saluting Invesco CEO Marty Flanagan.
Dov Wilker, American Jewish Committee (AJC) Southeast regional director, interviewed new AJC chief executive officer Ted Deutch, who joins the organization after 12 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives (Florida). The event was co-chaired by Doug Hertz and Jim Hannan with honorary chairs Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and Dr. Jon Lewin.
The pre-function cocktail hour featured a well-heeled, diverse crowd. Three high school seniors raved about their roles in the AJC Leaders For Tomorrow program. Gavin Friedman relayed his exposure and sensitivity to his late grandfather, and Holocaust survivor, Norbert Friedman, and how AJC broadened his horizons, as he also advocates for the LGBTQ+ community.
Audrey Zeff said, “Since I go to public school, I needed to learn how to discuss both sides of controversy in a respectful and impactful debate.”
Blake Schwartz valued AJC training on antisemitism as it relates to the Israeli-Palestinian ongoing conflict. Former local AJC president Melanie Nelkin was looking forward to welcoming Deutch as she chatted with Dawn Watkins, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival donor relations manager. Rabbi Peter Berg, senior rabbi at The Temple, chatted with Steve Berman about honoree Flanagan’s proximity as Invesco’s office is adjacent to The Temple on Peachtree. Jill and Greg Paradeis welcomed Deutch’s wife, Jill.
Inside the chandeliered ballroom, Rabbi Berg offered his invocation, which was comedic and sentimental in nature as it included prayers for topics like the return of the stock market, not getting calls from kids asking for money, no acts of terror, and, ultimately, good health. Craig Kaufman, current president of AJC Atlanta, narrated in between a slide presentation which included comments from Hispanic Jew Dax Lopez on his own emotional first-time trip to Israel. Kaufman praised the $520,000 raised for that night’s event.
Always a thought-provoking, on-point interviewer, Wilker queried Deutch on the most relevant topics, starting with why Deutch walked away from Congress. Deutch, who served seven terms in Congress, worked on the Abraham Accords, was a founding member of the House Bipartisan Task Force. He also chaired the House Ethics Committee and was a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chairing the Middle East, and North Africa Counterterrorism Subcommittee.
His reply to Wilker’s query: “Just turn on the TV.” Just five weeks into the job, Deutch plans to bring his skills in focus and strength to the AJC.
Wilker then referred to the recent antisemitic markings at the Brookhaven MARTA station and the threats toward synagogues in New Jersey that were discovered by the FBI. Deutch is counting on opportunities presented by the AJC’s Black Jewish Coalition.
Wilker then discussed the importance of corporate leadership in dealing with the issue recently exposed by Kanye West’s public antisemitic tirades. Wilker pointed to the yellow and blue flower centerpieces as a salute to the Ukrainian struggle.
Deutch noted that his own father received a Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge and his value of democracy. Deutch also spoke of his admiration for late Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
Local business leader Doug Hertz, president and CEO of United Distributors, Inc., began a tribute to Flanagan, labeling him as “a stealth servant leader.” Hertz added that Flanagan helped resolve issues involving pensions in Atlanta and chaired the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce during the pandemic and was instrumental in bringing companies like Microsoft to Atlanta.
Hertz laughed, saying, “The timing was not exactly perfect with a health crisis, but he showed the best leadership even then. He also helped get hate crime legislation passed in Georgia.”
A modest Flanagan graciously and briefly accepted the award after explaining his values of diversity of thought in driving motivation and collectively addressing intolerance.
The AJC works to enhance the wellbeing of the Jewish people and Israel, human rights, and Democratic values for all. For over a century, AJC has strived to forge alliances and build global bridges of mutual respect.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- American Jewish Committee
- National Human Relations Award Gala
- St. Regis Hotel
- Marty Flanagan.
- Dov Wilker
- Ted Deutch
- U.S. House of Representatives
- Doug Hertz
- Jim Hannan
- Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice
- Dr. Jon Lewin
- AJC Leaders for Tomorrow
- Gavin Friedman
- Norbert Friedman
- Holocaust Survivor
- LGBTQ+ community
- Audrey Zeff
- Blake Schwartz
- Melanie Nelkin
- Dawn Watkins
- Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
- Rabbi Peter Berg
- The Temple
- Steve Berman
- Jill and Greg Paradeis
- Craig Kaufman
- House Bipartisan Task Force
- House Ethics Committee
- House Foreign Affairs Committee
- Middle East
- and North Africa Counterterrorism Subcommittee
- Brookhaven MARTA station
- Black-Jewish Coalition
- United Distributors