Some 500 Long Island community leaders raised $1.7 million at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Long Island Annual IDF Appreciation Evening to support well-being and education programs for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success on Thursday, Sept. 14.
Speaking at the dinner was Ohad Benyichai, an Israeli commando who suffered a severe head wound during the infamous 2014 battle in the Gaza Strip’s Shejaiya neighborhood, and Staff Sgt. (Res.) Ofek, who fought by Benyichai’s side. Also attending were IDF combat veterans of modest means whose college educations are sponsored by local FIDF supporters through the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program. Last year, the Long Island community sponsored more than 100 IMPACT! Scholarships.
“When Ofek stepped across the border into Gaza, he understood what faced him—and that it might even lead to his making the ultimate sacrifice. Still he marched onward,” said FIDF National Board Member and Long Island Chairman Ronny Ben-Josef. “But the IDF’s brave soldiers do not walk alone—their fellow soldiers have their backs, and they have the support of their families, their country and Jews around the world. While they look after Israel, we look after them.”
The dinner, chaired by Edeed Ben-Josef, also welcomed FIDF’s new Long Island director, Felicia Solomon, and honored longtime supporters Eyal and Judith Shachi for their steadfast dedication to Israel’s troops. Solomon replaced Liron Kreitman, who recently relocated to Austin, TX, and is staying on with FIDF. The Shachis both served in the IDF.
Great Neck’s Michelle Ahdoot presided as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Other distinguished guests included FIDF National Chairman Arthur Stark and his wife, Sylvia, and FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta.
A group of Holocaust survivors established FIDF in 1981 as a nonprofit organization with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide. Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 supporters and 20 chapters throughout the United States and Panama, which support IDF soldiers, families of fallen soldiers and wounded veterans through a variety of programs that reinforce the bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF and the State of Israel. For more information, visit www.fidf.org.