Tragedy struck Argentina 25 years ago, when a Jewish community center was attacked in Buenos Aires. In remembrance, the American Jewish Committee’s Atlanta office (AJC) is hosting “25 Years Without Justice: Atlanta Remembers Victims of AMIA Bombing” on Aug. 11 at the Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs.
On July 18, 1994, 85 people were killed and more than 300 injured when a suicide bomber drove a car filled with explosive materials into the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in an act of terrorism. Argentinian prosecutors have accused Iranian and Hezbollah agents, but investigations continue.
Years later, terrorism is still a global threat. The AJC and the partners hosting the event hope to spread awareness on the subject, as well as educate people on the dangers of hate crimes.
Dov Wilker, regional director of the AJC’s Buckhead-based Southeast office, says he hopes the event will memorialize the calamity in a sincere way.
“We want people to remember,” Wilker said. “We want people to know [the victim’s] names.”
Rabbis Analia Bortz and Mario Karpuj, who cofounded Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs in 2003, were amid the chaos in Argentina that day. Bortz and Karpuj had both just been ordained by the Conservative seminary in Buenos Aires earlier in the year of 1994.
Bortz and her husband Karpuj moved to Georgia five years after the bombing, spending their first four years in Buckhead, then eventually settling in Sandy Springs. Bortz says she is thankful for the time she has spent in Georgia and thinks of the move as a positive experience.
“The Southern hospitality has embraced us as a family and we are extremely grateful to have been part of this community for the last 20 years,” Bortz said.
Bortz hopes that honoring the anniversary will shed some light on the tragedy as well as bring people together in the spirit of healing.
“[The event] will bring memories and awareness of the vulnerable world we live in,” Bortz said. “The support of a community helps to heal wounds.”
The AJC’s Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA) has a special connection to the bombing, as well.
“We’ve been engaged for over 30 years,” Wilker said. “After the bombing took place, our now chief policy officer traveled [to Buenos Aires] in order to stand in solidarity with Argentina.”
The Consulado General de la República Argentina, or the Argentinian Consulate in English, has also partnered with the AJC for this program.
“That shows the seriousness of this,” Wilker said. “It’s a major piece of this initiative.”
The Consul General of Argentina, Jorge Lopez Minardi, expresses the importance of justice prevailing for the victims in order to strengthen the Jewish community in the fight against terrorism.
“There is no better tribute to…the victims…than the search for justice and its permanent memory,” Minardi said.
Many local organizations will be represented in the event, as well, including the Congregation B’nai Torah, the Epstein School and the Weber School, to name a few.
The event is free and open to the public. It will be held Aug. 11 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Congregation Or Hadash at 7460 Trowbridge Road. Registration begins at 6:30 and the program will begin at 7. RSVPs are requested at AJC.org/atlantaAMIA25.