SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

Gary Sobel, a New York native who has lived in Atlanta for more than 25 years, is the new Chairman of the Board for the Atlanta Region of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). Outgoing chairman Howard Wexler is now the organization’s chairman emeritus.

Gary Sobel speaks at the 2012 FIDF Gala. PHOTO/FIDF

Gary Sobel speaks at the 2012 FIDF Gala. PHOTO/FIDF

“His passion to support Israel Defense Forces soldiers is contagious,” said Caryn Liss, executive director of the Atlanta Region. “If you spend five minutes speaking to Gary about FIDF, you will have no question about his passion for the safety and security of Israel and the power of this great cause.”

After a 1997 mission to Israel with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Sobel decided it was time to get involved in the Atlanta Jewish community. A decade later, during a business meeting with Chaz Lazarian, the two connected over their shared passion for Israel and admiration for the Israeli soldier.

“Chaz turned me on to something I didn’t know existed – an organization dedicated to providing for the humanitarian needs of the Israeli soldier,” said Sobel. “The FIDF and its mission just resonated with me. It was a natural fit and an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these brave men and women of the IDF.”

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Sobel feels the opportunity FIDF provides for Americans to support the men and women who ensure Israel’s safety and security is imperative and unique. For him, FIDF’s direct connection to the soldier transcends politics and opinions. Supporting them, he thinks, is essential to Israel’s survival.

There is no other U.S. organization that provides the broad-based support that directly benefits IDF soldier and their families. As Chairman, Sobel is excited to see the national organization build its presence and viability in Atlanta.

“We’re working hard to connect the Atlanta community to Israeli soldiers, to embrace the Israeli community, the Jewish day schools and the synagogues, and to reach out to our friends in the Christian community whose passion for Israel is tremendous,” Sobel said.

His strategy includes identifying opportunities to work together with other organizations and create joint programming that will raise awareness for the vital programs FIDF provides.

As Sobel likes to say:

“When was the last time you hugged a solider to thank them for their sacrifice while in the IDF? I want them to know that we’ve got their back.”

FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors to provide for the wellbeing of the men and women who serve in the IDF as well as the families of fallen soldiers.  FIDF initiates and helps support educational, social, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for the soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland.

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