For Richard Kopelman, supporting Israel came naturally while he was growing up in a Zionist home. Now he is being honored for that passion with the Israel Bonds Star of David Award.
Although Kopelman’s father never traveled to Israel, he raised his children in the belief that it was imperative to support Israel.
“I always remembered my grandparents buying Israel Bonds, and although I wasn’t really involved, maybe buying a bond here and there, they turned out to be a great investment and were the only bonds which stood during the economic downturn,” Kopelman said.
It was not until seven years ago that Kopelman became more involved in Israel Bonds after receiving a call from the executive director of the Southeast bonds office, Bradley Young, to join him on a young leadership mission to Israel involving 20 people from around the country.
Although Kopelman first turned the offer down because of plans to travel with Rabbi Joshua Heller, the mission’s itinerary changed his mind.
Since the trip, Kopelman has continued to support Israel Bonds and the Jewish state.
“I support Israel in general because my personal belief is that a strong Israel provides for a strong Jewish life and continuity globally,” he said.
Family ties also play a role. His grandfather was one of 13 children and survived the Holocaust with two siblings. Kopelman said no one knows what happened to the rest of the family.
Although Kopelman realizes the honor means his friends are inviting people to the Israel Bonds annual gala dinner Thursday, Nov. 9, “the award not only gives me an opportunity to speak about Israel Bonds to friends, family and colleagues, but also reconnect individuals that may have given in the past or are not as familiar with the nonprofit.”
He added: “Israel Bonds are very easy to apply for and give us an opportunity to reconnect people to the organization every time there is a mitzvah.”
Young said the Star of David Award, one of Israel Bonds’ highest awards for lay leaders, recognizes people who represent the best of Jewish Atlanta and everything the community has to offer. “Richard certainly falls into that category,” he said. “He has had a lifelong devotion to the state of Israel, is an extremely hardworking and well-respected individual, and has risen to the top of his profession. And despite the time he has devoted to his family and work, he has always made significant time for the community and for Israel.”
In addition to involvement with Israel Bonds and AIPAC, Kopelman participates in the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s annual campaigns, contributes to the Weber School and is a member of Congregation B’nai Torah.
He joined accounting firm Aprio 26 years ago. He rose to run the manufacturing and distribution practice, and he became the managing partner and CEO five years ago.
Along the way Kopelman also founded Next Generation Manufacturing, a nonprofit that aims to create manufacturing in Georgia on a business rather than political platform, and he has spent time in financial technology and insurance.
“We look forward to honoring Richard and having him a part of the Jewish community for years to come,” Young said.
Art Katz, the Israel Bonds council chairman for the Southeast, said: “The award represents an individual’s commitment to the state of Israel and the preservation of Israel Bonds. Richard is a mover and shaker in the Atlanta community, and he and his family are not only committed to Israel, but also represent what we would like to see others in the community carry themselves in support for Israel and Israel Bonds.”
Who: Richard Kopelman
What: Israel Bonds annual gala
Where: InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, 3315 Peachtree Road, Buckhead
When: 6p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9
Tickets: $160 (those 35 and younger can make a $54 bond investment instead); email@example.com or 404-817-3500