IAC Atlanta is delighted to be a fast-rising addition to the Israeli-American Council’s coast-to-coast community and is looking forward to bringing Atlanta’s largest-ever delegation to the IAC National Conference from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 in South Florida.
Earlier this year in Atlanta, a group of young professionals gathered at the home of Israeli food blogger and IAC lay leader, Hagar Sides, for a unique celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Drawing on the customs for Shavuot in Israel, guests sampled a menu of dairy foods including quiche, burekas, blintzes with mascarpone, lasagna, and a handful of other Mediterranean foods central to Israel’s culinary scene.
The evening, hosted in partnership with IAC Atlanta, brought together Jewish Americans, non-Jewish Americans and Israeli-Americans for an event inspired by the traditions and flavors of Israel.
The IAC’s Atlanta region – which will mark its one-year anniversary in November – has earned a unique reputation for bringing together the local Jewish American and Israeli-American communities, building partnerships, and initiating innovative programs that bring the spirit of Israeli life to Georgia.
Around the time of IAC Atlanta’s launch in November 2017, we would read headlines like the Atlanta Jewish Times’ report, “Israelis Divided From Rest of Jewish Atlanta.” I’m pleased to say that, a year later, the IAC has made tremendous progress in closing the gaps between Greater Atlanta’s Jewish- American and Israeli-American populations. The Shavuot event, for instance, used the love of food and “Israeliness” to energize Atlanta’s young Jewish professional community and unite Israeli-Americans and Jewish Americans in an exciting new way.
The work of 15 lay leaders involved with IAC Shishi Israeli, which brings together Israeli-American and Jewish-American families for communal experiences that combine Jewish traditions and Israeli culture on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, resulted in a Shabbat dinner for Tu B’Shevat that was attended by 330 people. Local partners saw the value of this initiative and collaborated with our lay leaders on this incredible Shabbat event.
A first-year organization likely cannot achieve all the growth it is seeking by operating in isolation. In Atlanta, the IAC’s rapid success in under a year has been driven by its close partnerships with existing institutions.
This was best illustrated by Zikaron BaSalon (Memories in the Living Room), an event on Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day that takes place in community members’ homes and seeks to offer a new and meaningful way to commemorate the Shoah and address its implications through intimate discussions. Partnering with the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeastern United States, Hillel, JCCs, Moishe House, and Tzofim (Israel Scouts), IAC Atlanta brought this international project to nine different locations in the city. As guests sat in living rooms across Atlanta, they were visibly moved by the stories of the last remaining Holocaust survivors. IAC Atlanta was proud to be present in these living rooms, and to have given more individuals than ever before the opportunity to take part in this unique experience.
The IAC Atlanta’s Shinshinim program partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and the Jewish Agency for Israel is providing a platform for further strengthening the Atlanta Jewish community – both its American-born and Israeli-born members. Israelis serving as emissaries through Shinshinim share their passion for and knowledge of Israel with young Americans through Jewish day schools, synagogues and other organizations. The Atlanta Shinshinim program is bridging Israelis and Americans in a remarkable way.
The IAC National Conference at the end of this month will be a time for Atlanta’s Jewish-American and Israeli-American communities to come together with thousands of other like-minded individuals, share best practices with their peers from across the country, and engage in conversations on some of the most pressing issues facing the future of the Jewish people and Israel. We cannot think of a better way to celebrate just how far IAC Atlanta has come in a single year.
Shaked Angel is the regional director of IAC Atlanta and former IAC Beyachad national director and educational director of IAC New York.