The Atlanta Jewish Times invited Jewish community leaders in Atlanta to offer comments about Israeli Consul General Opher Aviran and his wife, Talyah, and their five years here.
Opher’s fluent articulation of JNF’s vision demonstrates his understanding and appreciation for our mission. During one of his short visits back to Israel, he took precious time away from his family for a JNF tour so he could even better represent the organization. Talyah and his warm style opened doors and hearts for Israel throughout the Southeast. We will miss their friendship and support but know that they will prepare their successor to build on their success.
— Beth Gluck, Jewish National Fund
Opher Aviran has become one of my closest friends and confidants. We have had a wonderful relationship since his arrival in Atlanta. Opher is the perfect combination of compassionate soul, creative talent and visionary leader. He has been an ever-present source of strength for me personally, for The Temple, and for all of us in the Southeast. We have been honored to have Opher address our congregation each year on Yom Kippur and also to teach our community on numerous occasions. It has been our honor to partner with him on important milestones like Yom HaAtzmaut. And we have worked together with political, civic and communal leaders of every background to strengthen the American-Israel relationship. I particularly admire the extraordinary outreach Opher has done with the Christian community. He has built bridges in Atlanta better than anyone in his short time with us. We will miss Opher and Talyah very much but feel that they will always be a part of our family.
— Rabbi Peter Berg, The Temple
Here is what I wrote to Opher when I replied that I would be unable to attend the Consulate’s annual Yom HaAtzmaut celebration this year: “In addition to your diplomatic expertise, you have brought warmth to your interactions with people that immediately endears you to them. It’s a wonderful quality. I will be among the many here who will miss you!”
Consul General Aviran has carried out his duties on behalf of the state of Israel with sensitivity and expertise. He deeply cares about the welfare of the state of Israel and its people, and it shows in all that he does. But what sets Opher apart is what I wrote to him in that reply above. Opher is a warm, loving and (literally) embracing person. He has endeared himself to many people in our community and throughout the Southeast Region. Those personal qualities reinforce individuals’ desire to support the state of Israel and on its behalf.
We have come to understand that basic human relationship and connection is often the foundation of successful work on anything. Consul General Opher Aviran has exemplified that knowledge and utilized it in support of our beloved state of Israel in many fine ways. I shall miss him and his wife, Talyah, who supported the consulate’s work through her warm efforts.
— Rabbi Neil Sandler, Ahavath Achim Synagogue
Through my work in Israel with both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Minister’s Office for almost two decades, I have come to know many of Israel’s top diplomats serving in posts throughout the world. I have seen them in action in places like Hungary, Albania, France, Germany, Africa and the Far East, not to mention the various postings in the United States from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. While all those I’ve met and worked with on behalf of Israel’s foreign diplomacy serve with honor and distinction, few have ever left the impression on me that Opher Aviran and his wife have. Opher is a true diplomat in every sense of the word, always putting his country’s interests ahead of his own. Opher works tirelessly to build relationships that don’t serve to benefit him personally, but rather the state of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. His warmth and love of people are surpassed only by his dedication and love for Israel. He has carried out his duties in a way that would make every citizen of Israel proud. While we in Atlanta are sad to see Opher and Talyah leave, we are heartened by the fact that Israel is getting one of its jewels to return home.
— George Birnbaum, Atlanta Jewish Academy board member and former chief of staff to Benjamin Netanyahu
Your commitment to the soldiers, especially the Lone Soldiers, is a testament to your legacy as parents, since I’ve watched you treat these brave men and women as if they were your own children. Your warmth and smile bring comfort to all of us that have been fortunate to spend time with you. It is an honor to be able to refer to you as a friend.
— Seth Baron, executive director, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Southeast
From the outset, Opher embraced his role and became an active member of the Atlanta Jewish community. He was always gracious, supportive and eager to infuse Israeli culture into programs at the MJCCA and throughout metro Atlanta. His presence will be greatly missed.
— Gail Luxenberg, CEO, Marcus Jewish Community Center
I have known Ambassador Aviran since I first came to Atlanta. Even before arriving, he reached out to me to make sure I knew how much he valued the Federation’s partnership and in turn confirmed my personal commitment to the people and state of Israel. His passion for Israel and the Jewish people is contagious and so appreciated. Ambassador Aviran has always been supportive of Federation’s mission and has participated in our communitywide events, has been helpful and supportive of our Birthright programs and supportive of the Federation’s efforts in Israel and in our partnership region of Yokneam and Meggido. I have gotten to know Ambassador Aviran, his wife, Tali, and his children and know how much Atlanta will miss them. We wish them well and safe travels as they enjoy the opportunity to be with their family in Israel.
— Michael Horowitz, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
We have been blessed beyond words by having Talyah and Opher Aviran in our lives these past several years. They have magnificently represented Israel in their professional capacities by strengthening the vast network of regional diplomatic, interfaith, cross-cultural, civic and business ties. That being said, their true legacy will be the hundreds of heartfelt friendships they have formed across the entire Southeastern United States. We will dearly miss their warmth, humor, creativity and generosity of spirit.
— Robyn and Doug Ross
Over the past five years, Opher Aviran has strengthened the personal and educational relationship between the Epstein School community and the consulate office. Under his inspiring leadership, new opportunities for student involvement were created, bringing Israel closer to our students, faculty and parents. Mr. Aviran recognizes the importance of teaching Hebrew and supported the professional growth of our Hebrew teachers in a citywide initiative which focused on improving the teaching of Hebrew as a second language. The ties that he formed will continue to grow and reflect the unbreakable bond between Israel, the Epstein School and the greater Atlanta Jewish community. The Epstein community wishes him the very best in his future endeavors.
— The Epstein School
On behalf of AJC Atlanta’s board of trustees, we are so grateful for the incredible relationship we have had with Ambassador Opher Aviran throughout his tenure in Atlanta. Opher made such an incredible impact on the Southeast that his presence will surely be missed. He is a true diplomat, advocating on Israel’s behalf during some of her most difficult times and always being available to meet with AJC Atlanta and ACCESS leadership. We will miss working with our friend Opher and wish him much success in the future.
— Greg Averbuch, AJC Atlanta president; Lauren Grien, AJC Atlanta president 2013-2015; Lenny Silverstein, AJC Atlanta president 2011-2013; Dov Wilker, regional director
Diplomats serve the interests of their country, and their key mission is to build relations and friendships. Atlanta and the Southeast were the home of two groundbreaking initiatives that were launched a few years prior to the 1996 Olympic Games: the American Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE). Like diplomats, these two initiatives focused on building international professional ties between the business communities and the law enforcement communities, respectively. Diplomatic tenures range between a year to five years, and since the early 1990s there were many consuls general over the years. Some of them were very good. No one has been as energetic, forceful, full of ideas, ever-present, pushing initiatives and working tirelessly to bring the Southeast and Israel together as Opher Aviran. GILEE would not have been able to carry out its mission as effectively without the strong support of the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta. Ambassador Aviran provided an excellent role model of a thoughtful, proud, resourceful and friendly representative of the state of Israel, and he has undoubtedly left his mark here. He will be missed, but his legacy will be the elevation of the relationship between the Southeast and Israel to levels unheard of before in scope, numbers, content and quality. We wish Opher, Talyah and their daughters all the best in their future endeavors.
— Dr. Robbie Friedmann, founding director, GILEE
Opher has been a tireless advocate and friend to Conexx. His wisdom and support of the American-Israel business relationship has been invaluable, and it is obvious to see throughout the Southeast. We will miss Opher and Talyah and wish them luck in their new posting.
— Guy Tessler, chief operating officer, Conexx
Hillels of Georgia takes great pride in promoting a pro-Israel environment on all its campuses. Indeed, Israel advocacy and education is one of our fundamental core values. But the groups that we choose to partner with change annually. However, one mainstay throughout our existence has been the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast.
When local Atlantans hear that Hillels of Georgia regularly partners with the consulate, they are generally surprised and ask how that relationship plays out. The answer is: It all starts at the top. Ambassador Opher Aviran has been revolutionary in engaging and maintaining a strong relationship with the Jewish and non-Jewish students throughout Georgia. When anti-Semitic issues popped up on our campuses, he would be one of the first to call to offer assistance and wisdom and, more importantly, would repeatedly follow up to ensure that Hillels of Georgia had all the resources to execute our plan. When a nonprofit came to town that could assist Jewish students on campuses, he would make sure to make that connection by inviting the Hillels of Georgia staff to the consulate’s building to meet with the other organization. He has helped sponsor and promote pro-Israel programming at all of our campuses and has made sure that we have the consulate’s ear whenever necessary.
Hillels of Georgia holds biannual Israel leadership meetings, inviting all the Israel student leaders throughout the state for training and orientations. The consulate offered to host the second one of the year at Ambassador Aviran’s home. At this dinner, Hillels of Georgia bestowed upon the ambassador its first annual Israel award and named it after him because of his impact and continued support for the student community. The award is the Opher Aviran Stand With Israel Award. We could not have hoped for a better ambassador and wish him and his family luck in their future assignments.
— Michael Coles, president, and Rabbi Russ Shulkes, executive director, Hillels of Georgia
Consul General Opher Aviran shared the women of Greater Atlanta Hadassah’s passion for Hadassah Medical Organization and what it represents to the people of Israel. His sense of humor, along with his natural charm, allowed Israel to always be represented in a positive light, which won us many supporters. He leaves Atlanta with many friends who will miss him and his family. We wish him the greater good fortune with all his future endeavors.
— Paula Zucker, president, Greater Atlanta Hadassah