The Woodruff Arts Center lobby could have been mistaken as Machane Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem on Wednesday night, April 26, with rows of salatina, falafel, shawarma and spices greeting the likes of Gov. Brian Kemp and a “who’s who” packed crowd that came to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary, Atlanta style. Delilah Cohen worked tirelessly for months with our community to make her vision of Jewish Atlanta’s celebration come true.
Ever gracious, global speaker and CNN producer, Nadia Bilchik walked through the lively program of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast, Anat Sultan-Dadon, Governor Kemp, performances by The Epstein School and The Davis Academy school choirs, Luma Dance Company, Lapidus & Myles, and Yinon Sahar & Chen Cohen Exit 10 Atlanta.
Bilchik spoke of the diversity of the crowd as a testament to Israel’s broad base of support. In between, the Light for Israel Awards were presented to Georgia State Sen. Tonya Anderson, Gov. Brian P. Kemp, Krystal Bracy, Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter, Sr., Dr. Robbie Friedmann, Darius Jones, Michael A. Morris, Doug Ross, Samantha Strelzer, and Helen Zalik.
After a rousing “Star-Spangled Banner” and Hatikvah, various videos were shown about faith and strength in Israel, and later, videos from dignitaries who were unable to attend: Sen. Jon Ossoff, Sen. Raphael Warnock, and Mayor Andre Dickens. Rabbi Daniel Dorsch started with a Shecheyanu about the variety of rabbis present and how we are all the flowers as the result of the roots planted by our ancestors as, “There is no greater tefillah than this great miracle of Israel at 75 and our connection to it.”
Sultan-Dadon shared that a new study showed that Israeli citizens scored as the happiest in the world. She shared that the population 75 years ago was 800,000 and now totals 9.7 million. In 1948, Israeli held 5 percent of the world’s Jews vs now 46 percent.
“We are here to stay. That’s the eternal truth.” She touted Israel’s role as a world leader in technology and innovation. Teen performers clad in blue and white waved flags and sang and danced from the balcony and center stage.
Keynote speaker Kemp, with wife, Marty, was generous early on with his time chatting and posing for photos with admirers. His formal remarks were riveting about the state’s unwavering support of Israel with $1.2 billion in trade between Georgia and Israel while exports increased 213 percent over 20 years. He went back to early Georgia history where 50 Jewish families came over with Oglethorpe. He was also proud of the new nonstop Atlanta-Tel Aviv Delta flight. He ended by quoting Isaiah, about Israel’s “calling as a righteous people and light unto the nations.” He vowed to continue to fight antisemitism. He ended with the announcement of his family’s upcoming trip to Israel.
During the reception, minglers chatted with the AJT.
Honoree Doug Ross said, “I’m here to celebrate the miracle of Israel with this pro-Israel constituency.”
Honoree Dr Lawrence Carter, Sr., founding dean of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel, stated, “As a history buff, I am delighted to witness our Judeo-Christian faiths, and note that there are certain aspects of history that we don’t want repeated.”
Pastor Patrick Penn drove in from Huntsville, Ala., with the second vice chief of the Cherokee Nation, Larry Smith, and was proud of his own role as a political advocate for Israel.
CEO and founder of Honeymoon for Israel, Mike Wise, stated that he has been to Israel five times in 12 months. Secretary of State Raffensperger shared that he values his role as a unifier in Georgia simply by telling the truth, in reference to the infamous legal case where Donald Trump asking for votes.
Community leader and CPA Arian Grant summed it up, “Next to my family, Israel is the most important thing in my life.”
A meat and parve menu was provided by E.B. Caterers. A shuk in the lobby allowed guests to package and take home colorful Israeli spices like z’atar, sesame seeds, and turmeric.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Woodruff Arts Center
- Machane Yehuda
- Gov. Brian Kemp
- Nadia Bilchik
- Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
- Consul General of Israel to the Southeast
- Anat Sultan-Dadon
- The Epstein School
- The Davis Academy
- Luma Dance Company
- Lapidus & Myles
- and Yinon Sahar & Chen Cohen Exit 10
- Georgia State Sen. Tonya Anderson
- Krystal Bracy
- Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter
- Dr. Robbie Friedmann
- Darius Jones
- Gov. Kemp
- Michael Morris
- Doug Ross
- Samantha Strelzer
- Helen Zalik
- Sen. Jon Ossoff
- Sen. Raphael Warnock
- and Mayor Andre Dickens
- Rabbi Daniel Dorsch
- E.B. Caterers