Chabad of Cobb Unites Community at Gala

Chabad of Cobb Unites Community at Gala

The Champions Gala & Auction celebrated the theme of “transforming darkness into light.”

Rabbi Ephraim Silverman presented an award for courage and sacrifice to two Chabad of Cobb soldiers in Israel, including Zach Olstein, who was present at the event. Josh Asarnow, the other recipient, was with his unit in Israel.
Rabbi Ephraim Silverman presented an award for courage and sacrifice to two Chabad of Cobb soldiers in Israel, including Zach Olstein, who was present at the event. Josh Asarnow, the other recipient, was with his unit in Israel.

Transforming darkness into light was a powerful theme reiterated several times throughout Chabad of Cobb’s Champions Gala & Auction, held on March 14 at the East Cobb synagogue.

Speaking before a record number of more than 300 attendees, Rabbi Ephraim Silverman emphasized the importance of courage, fortitude, and Jewish pride in addressing adversity and antisemitism. He recounted the grassroots efforts by Chabad of Cobb congregants to hang more mezuzot, do more mitzvot, and become more involved in Jewish life following the Goyim Defense League demonstration in front of the synagogue and after the violent Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Georgia State Rep. Brent Cox received an award from Rabbi Silverman during a moving tribute about Rep. Cox’s dedication to the Jewish community.

He recounted the outpouring of support the synagogue received throughout the state from both government officials and local ministers after both incidents. A testament to the power of positive thinking, Rabbi Silverman found the proverbial silver lining in both situations, explaining, “If the neo-Nazis and antisemites’ goal was to help increase Jewish pride, they well surpassed their intentions.”

Throughout the evening, Rabbi Silverman shared his inspirational message of turning the “oy into joy,” as he describes it, by becoming champions for Israel and the Jewish people. “Everything comes from G-d. We can acknowledge the challenges that face us, but we cannot let them paralyze us or cause us to wring our hands in distress. We must transform negativity into a force for good. There are still so many bright spots in our world. Attitude and perspective make a huge difference,” he stressed.

Event chairs Roni Wolk and Carole Salzberg made the magic come to life that night with all the right touches, including beautiful decor and lively Israeli music.

Following an inspiring video about the synagogue and the challenges faced by the Jewish community over the past year, the honorees or “champions” of the evening were announced and recognized for their contributions to Jewish life and continuity. Aviva and Eyal Postelnik were recognized for their commitment to strengthening the Jewish community. According to Rabbi Silverman, “The Postelniks’ dedication and generous philanthropic contributions to Chabad of Cobb, Jewish Learning Institute, and many other non-profit organizations throughout the United States and Israel have been integral in expanding Chabad of Cobb, helping Israeli families affected by Oct. 7, and turning many great ideas into action.”

Two young adults, Zach Olstein and Josh Asarnow, were recognized for leaving their “comfortable lives in the United States” to volunteer and fight as part of the IDF. Both young men grew up at Chabad of Cobb. Olstein was present to receive his award, and Asmarow was in Israel during the event with his unit.

Rabbi Ephraim and Chani Silverman beamed with pride.

Georgia State Rep. Brent Cox, who attended and spoke at the gala fundraiser, was recognized as a cherished, special friend of the Jewish community and one of the foremost advocates for Israel in the State House. Speaking before the large crowd, he said, “Do not compromise the gift of being chosen as the Jewish people. Stand for all you can be. As a Christian, my foundation comes from Judaism.” Rep. Cox was one of the sponsors of House Resolution 4EX, which condemned Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack and indicated support for Israel.

The evening’s activities also included separate silent and “Chinese” auctions where attendees bid on fine art, jewelry, household appliances and trips. The synagogue met its financial goal for the evening, though the primary objective for the night, according to Rabbi Silverman, was to inspire unity and pride in the Jewish community, where he believes all are champions, each in their own way.

Aviva and Eyal Postelnik were recognized for their dedication and philanthropy.

Roni Wolk and Carole Salzberg were chairs for this year’s gala, which raised funds for the synagogue and Magen David Adom. With many of her family members living in Israel, Salzberg was encouraged by Rabbi Silverman’s decision to proceed with the event even as the war continues in Israel.

“Rabbi Silverman’s resolve to move forward reinforced the Jewish community’s refusal to succumb to fear or allow acts of violence to dictate our next steps. As we came together to honor this year’s champions, 300 people stood united — stronger than ever — honoring and praying for our IDF soldiers and the hostages, showing resilience and compassion, and feeling uplifted and encouraged.”

Chabad of Cobb has doubled in size over the past year, with the addition of a new social hall, Israel Hall, for communal gatherings. In the fall, the Cobb Jewish Preschool will officially open its doors. Other programs experiencing growth include Camp Gan Izzy, Smiles for Seniors, CTeen, Chabad Women’s Circle, Cobb Hebrew School, and several adult learning programs.

As the event wound down toward the end of the night, Rabbi Silverman and his wife, Chani, beamed as they surveyed the room and interacted with their many congregants. Their longtime vision to create a strong, vibrant, and proud Jewish community, even in the face of adversity, had certainly come to fruition. And if the sentiments expressed by the attendees that night are any indication, this Cobb community is feeling energized, empowered, and ready to display their Jewish pride. Rabbi Silverman’s optimism seems to have rubbed off on several hundreds of people who were in attendance that night.

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