Native Atlantan Avery Kastin attended Riverwood High School and became a bar mitzvah and confirmand at The Temple. He graduated from Columbia University and then pursued a career in finance in New York and Chicago before returning home to Atlanta to work in the family business. Since then we see his smiling face at many local Jewish fundraising, social and artsy events. Or we can find this bon vivant skiing, flying or museum hopping.
Get the scoop here:
Jaffe: How did you initially get interested in Atlanta Jewish community involvement?
Kastin: My Birthright Israel trip was the spark. I was reminded how proud I was to be a part of the Jewish people and how, with too few exceptions, the only people who have helped Jews are other Jews. I raised my hand and fortunately, the Atlanta Jewish community had several under 40 Jewish organizations in which I could become involved in meaningful ways for me.
Jaffe: What are the boards on which you serve?
Kastin: Within the Jewish community, I currently sit on the boards of the Jewish Federation [of Greater Atlanta] and Hillels of Georgia. Within Federation, I sit on the allocations and campaign committees where we see 1 – the diverse needs of the Jewish community, and 2 – the needs are greater than the funds raised. I’m currently serving as the Business & Professionals chair of Federation’s campaign to narrow that gap hopefully.
Jaffe: You are an art collector and patron. How does that play a role in your life?
Kastin: The arts enrich my life immeasurably, and I seek it out when I travel and try to surround myself with it at home. In Atlanta, I advocate for a strong arts scene, including museums, dance and theater, which means I participate in and support those raising the cultural bar here. In my home, I want to be surrounded by works that are thought-provoking, have meaning or are beautiful, which means as a collector, I support artists making original works of art.
Jaffe: Describe your food purveyor business
Kastin: We act as a sales force for manufacturers looking to sell their food products to retail chains, food distributors and wholesalers. My father started the company nearly 40 years ago. I joined the company about 15 years ago and we’re now partners. Working with my Dad is wonderful (99 percent of the time).
Jaffe: What are your long-term goals in the community?
Kastin: Expanding the possibilities for both Atlanta’s Jewish and cultural communities. The potential within Atlanta is tremendous on both fronts, and I hope to play a role in strengthening these pillars as Atlanta continues to grow.
Jaffe: What advice would you give to younger folks about getting involved in the Atlanta Jewish community?
Kastin: Numerous pathways exist for NextGens to get involved in our community. So many options, in fact, that Federation has staff who will navigate with you available offerings, matching your interests with all the organizations and programs that exist in our greater community. This wayfinder service is true not just for NextGens but also for those at every life stage.
Jaffe: You recently returned from Israel as part of the Wexner Heritage Program’s Israel Institute. What did you learn there and what message would you like to bring back from Israel?
Kastin: Our cohort of Wexner Atlanta leaders spent over a week in Israel exploring firsthand the many complexities of Israeli society today. While the issues are challenging, we are reminded that Israel is only seven decades young in forging its identity. We are very fortunate to live in a time where Israel is a Jewish state, and I feel it is important to both celebrate its improbable successes and support its loftiest ideals.
Jaffe: What do you like most about Atlanta and our uniqueness?
Kastin: I love that Atlanta is still a city of neighborhoods. Despite its tremendous growth in population and opportunity, it still has a close knit, diverse community of people who feel connected and responsible for one another.
Jaffe: Complete the sentence: When I’m not working you can find me …
Kastin: In the window seat of a Delta jet, my second home. In the winter, hopefully I’m skiing in the back bowls of Vail on a powder day. The rest of the year, in museums or enjoying the outdoors.