A delegation from the New Jersey chapter of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces joined more than 1,200 FIDF leaders from across the United States and Israel to celebrate soldiers and veterans from all of Israel’s military operations and wars. The gala, at the New York Hilton Midtown, raised a record $35 million to support educational and well-being programs for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.
The New Jersey delegation included FIDF national board member and N.J. chapter co-founder Sammy Bar-Or; Moshe, Naomi, and Rami Evar; FIDF national IMPACT! scholarship program chairman Harry Gross; Shelly Paradis and her husband, Yosef “Chick” Paradis, a past FIDF national board member; upcoming FIDF N.J. gala co-chair Ellen Sokoloff and her husband, Lloyd, an FIDF national board member, and FIDF N.J. director Howard Gases.
Honored guests included Ambassador Danny Danon, the permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations; Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York, and philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson.
There was a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, led by legendary IAF test pilot Danny Shapira, who was one of the first pilots to fly over Israel and fought in most of its wars.
The donations included a $7 million gift pledged by the Adelsons. Or Lachayal pledged $2 million and FIDF Young Leadership New York pledged $1.5 million. A number of anonymous donors pledged more than $1 million each. Genesis Philanthropy Group, Masa Yisraeli, Nefesh B’Nefesh, and FIDF National Vice President Marc Perlman each pledged $1 million, and the Iranian American Jewish Federation pledged $600,000.
Funds raised at the gala will provide services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in need, support for Lone Soldiers throughout their service and after, aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, and educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.