HOSTED BY AMERICANS UNITED WITH ISRAEL & FIDF

SPECIAL FOR THE AJT

On Sunday, August 10, hundreds of people gathered at the East Cobb Pavilion in Marietta to show their solidarity in response to the Gaza conflict. Speakers included Kaylene Rudy, Founder and President of Americans United with Israel; Garry Sobel, Chair for the Southeast Region and National Board Member of the FIDF; Mr. Opher Aviran, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast; Rabbi Paul Kerbel, Rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim; and Pastor Randy Brook, Senior Pastor of Marietta Church of G-d. Julie Naturman, Cantor at Temple Sinai, preformed the Hatikvah and Kelly Stewart, Mayor Pro Tem of Johns Creek, Board Member of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), and Member of the Leadership Council of Birth Right Israel and Christians United with Israel (CUFI), performed the national anthem.

Kaylene Rudy, AUWI

Kaylene Rudy, organizer of the rally, opened the event by thanking everyone for coming to show their support for Israel, and expressed her gratitude to the Atlanta Jewish Times for their sponsorship and Jason Kagan of Krazy Boyz Productions for donating his time and resources for this worthy cause. Kaylene explained that her devotion to generating public awareness and American support for Israel is because of three clear reasons, “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the best friend and ally that America has, and last and most importantly – Israel is founded on the principles of Faith and Loyalty to the G-d of Israel.” She pointed out the increasing number of terror and death threats that the Jewish and Christian communities around the world have faced since the conflict in Gaza escalated. The crowd rallied while she shared an inspiring video of thousands of Americans in New York City bursting with support for Israel during a Pro-Gaza march. Rudy challenged everyone to defend Israel whenever they hear anything inflammatory or untrue about Israel, remarking “Stand firm and be courageous because someone else around you will stand with you in support for Israel. You are not alone! Victory in this war will be Israel’s and blessed are those who support her!”

Garry Sobel, FIDF

Sobel spoke about the FIDF’s Lone Solider, Dignity and IMPACT! Scholarship programs and stated, “FIDF has a lifetime commitment to the families of the 64 fallen soldiers as well as 300 plus soldiers that have been wounded in Operation Protective Edge. Seeing such an amazing turnout today of over 500 people sends a clear message that our community is looking out for the wellbeing of our soldiers. Thank you for your continued support!”

“Once Operation Protective Edge comes to a conclusion, FIDF is committed to making sure that all Lone Soldiers involved with this conflict – over 1,500 of them – receive a flight home, so they may spend time with their families. It’s the least we can do to support these brave men and women who are protecting the State of Israel. FIDF says it best – their job is to look after Israel, ours is to look after them.”

Rabbi Paul Kerbel and Pastor Randy Brooks represented the spiritual leadership for the Jewish and Christian communities. Rabbi Kerbel confessed that he has been distressed to see the hardship, injuries, and loss of lives that Israel has been facing and commented that this is certainly a time for all of us to come together in support for Israel.

Maj. Sgt Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel

Keynote speaker, Sergeant Major Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, was called up to the IDF reserves to defend Israel on the Gaza border. On July 17, he was injured in action, and was subsequently released from service. In Israel, he hosts an English speaking radio and television show. He is also a columnist for the Jerusalem Post and borne native of Atlanta. Jeremy moved to Israel in 1991 with his family. Today, he lives in Neve Daniel with his wife, Tehila, and their four children. When the reserves were called up, 97 percent of them reported to their units within the next three hours, demonstrating their level of commitment to protecting Israel. He explained how Israel is on the front lines of America’s war against terrorism, stating, “King David’s army is resurrected.” Jeremy compared the Iron Dome to the kippah he wears on his head, “When the rockets are fired from Hamas you can see the rocket in the air and the white smoke behind it; when a counter missile is shot from the Iron Dome it is not visible and appears almost like G-d’s finger is extinguishing each one.”

He acknowledged that sometimes it can be considered politically incorrect to talk about G-d in these matters; but, for him, it is because of G-d’s perfect timing, giving technology and inspiration to the Jewish people in order to protect Israel and its people each day, that there are miracles in Israel and lives being saved from Hamas terror. He asked, what if CNN asked Osama bin Laden his side of the story after 9-11, drawing a comparison to the current media bias against Israel. He explained the compromising position that each soldier is put in when he or she sees a Hamas terrorist preparing to fire on an Israeli citizen by asking the crowd, “What would you order your sniper to do if a Hamas sniper is ready to pull the trigger on a fellow Israeli and there is a 12-year-old boy standing next to him?”

Photography by Gabriel Weiss