One of the newest faces at the Israeli Consulate General to the Southeast in Midtown is native Atlantan Paula Baroff, a Yeshiva Atlanta High School graduate who got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in May.
After working as an intern for the Atlanta Jewish Times, she became the consulate’s director of academic affairs in early July. She replaced Lucas Dear, who moved across the office to become the director of public affairs after Stefani Newman left the consulate in the spring.
Baroff, who has been a regular at Congregation Ariel, took a few minutes Friday, Aug. 5, to answer the AJT’s Four Questions.
AJT: What drew you to this job at the consulate?
Baroff: I spent my whole college career working for Israel advocacy in a variety of ways, so I had strong connections to Israel as a country as well as Israeli advocacy, so I naturally wanted to go into that as a career. When I got offered this job, it was right up my alley.
AJT: What are your job responsibilities?
Baroff: I’m the director of academic affairs, which means I handle all universities in our district. So I handle meetings between faculty and the diplomats, and then I myself I have relationships with faculty and students and Hillel directors, and I make sure that they know I’m available for resources. So basically I’m the primary contact between the consulate and the universities. …
I’ll be traveling out of state a good amount. It is based in Atlanta, but we represent all of the states equally (as of Aug. 15, the consulate’s territory consists of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri). So I’m planning meetings with colleges in North Carolina right now.
AJT: What advice can you offer to incoming college freshmen who are pro-Israel?
Baroff: Get involved as soon as you can and that way not just so that you’re part of a group, but so you learn how to be pro-Israel on college campuses. And also be proactive when it comes to supporting Israel, and not just in a blatantly pro-Israel way. Bring attention to connections Israel has with the United States in terms of technology and medicine and things like that.
AJT: What do you see as the biggest issues you’ll have to deal with this year?
Baroff: Most likely there will be pushback when diplomats go to speak at college campuses. I won’t directly have to deal with that at the talks themselves, but I do have to deal with the aftermath and the environment in general I think, like building relationships. …
Basically, any universities that have a large and active Jewish population are the ones we tend to worry more about because they also tend to have a bigger anti-Israel backlash. …
I want the Jewish community, whether they’re in college or have kids who are in high school still, to know that we’re available for resources, and I want to be updated on anything that’s going on.