By Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer | Consul General of Israel to the Southeast

The coming of each new year marks a time for both reflection and anticipation. Looking back on 5775 and forward to 5776, we have much to appreciate and celebrate.

I knew that arriving as the new consul general of Israel to the Southeast would be a challenging experience — and I am always up for a challenge. When my family and I arrived in Atlanta in July, we were welcomed with open arms in the spirit of Southern hospitality.

Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer

Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer

This warm, easygoing atmosphere has set the tone for me as I begin to meet with Jewish organizations, Christian supporters, and political, business and cultural leaders throughout the region.

Being in Atlanta now for a little more than a month, there are some things I know to be absolutely true. I believe that Atlanta and the Southeast are the most pro-Israel areas in the United States. Here, both Jews and Christians support Israel with unrelenting enthusiasm. This has propelled me to work enthusiastically and with high hopes for successful collaborations and relationships.

The Southeast is on the cutting edge for many endeavors. Already, I’ve been honored to take part in an impressive event that highlighted the best in both cybersecurity and high-tech advancements in Israel and the United States.

The Cybersecurity Forum With Israel and the American Southeast, held at Georgia Tech, brought together lawmakers, business leaders, investors and researchers from Israel, Washington, D.C., and the Southeast. In partnership with the Israeli government and the global law firm Baker Donelson, the event aimed for companies and institutions to discover new partners, craft strategies for collective action, and ensure they remain informed of upcoming challenges.

I was also delighted to recently accompany the governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, on his trade mission to Israel. After this mission, we anticipate even more new partnerships that will be mutually beneficial for Israel and Tennessee.

Looking forward to the coming Jewish year, we have great expectations. As always, the Consulate is working hard both to keep the community informed and to share the best of Israeli innovation and culture with the people of the Southeastern United States.

We are mindful, however, that Israel faces serious national security challenges in the coming year. The impending vote on the Iran deal in the U.S. government has taken over headlines and prompted endless discussions and debates since its announcement in July. Iran continues its efforts to acquire military nuclear capabilities and remains the chief sponsor of the terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas. Without the great friendship of the American people, it will be difficult to meet these strategic challenges.

This summer we saw the departure of former Consul General Opher Aviran and his wife, Talyah, after five years of diligent work uniting Israel and the Southeast community. We will continue to honor his enthusiasm in the years ahead.

As the year draws to a close, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the unwavering support of the Jewish community of Atlanta to the people and state of Israel. On behalf of the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year, and we look forward to working with you in 5776.