By Zach Itzkovitz
The American Jewish Committee’s Atlanta Chapter bid farewell to Lauren Grien as president and welcomed her successor, Greg Averbuch, and new board members at the AJC Atlanta annual
meeting Tuesday, May 19, at 103 West in Buckhead.
Tearfully, Grien expressed pride in AJC Atlanta’s work the past few years and gratitude for the chance to enhance those efforts.
“Fundraising is at the heart of any nonprofit organization,” she said. “We have broken fundraising records in Atlanta these past few years.”
Averbuch also offered thanks for the chance to serve as president. “I am sincerely humbled by the trust and confidence that you have bestowed on me,” he said. “The staff, officers and myself are committed to continuing the tradition that AJC has established through the years, and that is one of excellence.”
AJC Atlanta has implemented a number of programs to enhance Jewish relations within the general community in recent years.
“This past year, after years of talking about it, we finally began our Muslim-Jewish Dialogue,” Grien said. “Sunday night was the culmination of our four-part movie series and discussion, and we averaged over 100 people, both Jews and Muslims, for each program.”
AJC has worked closely with the Birmingham Jewish Federation, which offered a $3,000 grant for Project Interchange, an AJC initiative that brings opinion leaders and policymakers to Israel.
AJC Atlanta co-sponsored a “Jews in China” exhibit at the Birmingham Jewish Federation and arranged a meeting between Birmingham Federation leaders and French Consul General Denis Barbet.
The AJC University Series brings experts to Atlanta to speak about important topics, such as global anti-Semitism, turmoil in the Middle East and elections in Israel.
“We are now expanding our outreach to the Asian community,” Grien said, “primarily the Korean population of Atlanta. The interfaith committee has identified and is meeting with key leaders in that community.”
Averbuch said AJC Atlanta will integrate and use media in a new partnership with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which separated from the AJC in 2014.
“We will continue to integrate and nurture ACCESS,” the AJC’s young-professional wing, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in April, Averbuch said. “We will continue to enhance engagement and leadership development while evolving and expanding our fundraising activities.”
Averbuch revealed plans for a high-level mission to Mexico that will highlight the 10th anniversary of the Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs. The trip is planned for the fall.
Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple offered a blessing to Averbuch and to each new board member.
“Holy One, bestow your blessing upon our leaders,” Rabbi Berg said. “Instill in them insight and understanding, perseverance and patience. Inspire them to work together in the pursuit of our community’s greatest aspirations, even as they watch over its daily needs.”