June 7, 2024
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FIDF Dinner Draws Record Crowd in Greenwich

More than 750 people packed the Greenwich Hyatt Hotel on Sunday evening, Oct. 29 for a night of solidarity with Israel sponsored by the Westchester and Connecticut chapter of the Friends of the IDF (FIDF).

In addition to the money generated from reservations, an additional $2 million-plus was pledged at a fundraising auction at the conclusion of the program. One hundred percent of the money raised by the FIDF chapter goes directly to help IDF soldiers. Each day the organization receives a detailed list of the critical needs of the IDF. FIDF is the single organization in the United States, designated by the IDF, that is authorized to raise funds for its soldiers, and FIDF acts according to the requirements of the IDF’s manpower directorate to respond to the most urgent requests.

Funds raised at the event will go toward lifesaving medical supplies such as ambulances, plasma, medical devices, field hospitals, as well as hygiene kits and aid for the thousands of bereaved families who are suffering the loss of a loved one. As the IDF’s official partner, FIDF is the fastest and most direct way to support IDF soldiers.

The organization also supports the spiritual and religious well-being of the soldiers and their families. FIDF provides food packages for bereaved families, especially those in financial need, for the entire shiva period; tallit, tzitzit, and kippot for soldiers; and the SOULdier Recharge program, which rejuvenates soldiers, strengthens their unity and increases their motivation and morale.

One of the highlights of the evening was an exclusive briefing from Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the IDF international spokesperson, who spoke to dinner guests live from Israel on video. He said that the IDF has not given up on freeing the hostages, and will do everything it can both diplomatically and militarily, even as they are preparing for a ground offensive into Gaza. He stressed that the IDF is doing its best to avoid collateral damage despite the fact that Hamas is using its own people as human shields.

“The spirit of our soldiers is amazing,” said Conricus, “and their motivation is strong to fight wherever they are needed. They will do whatever is required to achieve their goal.”

Conricus also thanked American Jews for their support of Israel and said that the love shown to them will help Israel win the war against Hamas.

On a table in front of the ballroom was a large display of photos of the many dozens of IDF soldiers who are currently serving in the IDF and who are children of Westchester and Connecticut parents. Several parents have two children currently serving, including Young Israel of Stamford members Lenore and Ilan Fogel and Congregation Agudath Sholom members Rachel and Dan Haron.

Mo Glazman, the cantor at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, performed a stirring rendition of the prayer for the Israeli soldiers and “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” accompanied by Bar Markovitch, an award-winning violinist.

Anat Chavkin, the executive director of the Westchester and Connecticut chapter of the FIDF, said, “Our hearts may be broken, but the unity of our people is unbreakable.” She mentioned that in addition to the overwhelming amount of financial support the organization has received in recent weeks, they have also been flooded with offers to volunteer for the organization.

The most emotional part of the evening occurred when Debbie Ziering spoke. She grew up in Westchester and her brother moved to Israel once he got married and raised his family there. Their son Aryeh entered the IDF and served in the Special Forces canine unit for six years. He was beginning to think of leaving the IDF to begin a new chapter in his life. However, on Simchat Torah morning, when he heard about the terrorist attack, he quickly drove south with his unit to defend his country. He was one of the very first group of IDF soldiers to enter the Nova Music festival.

Unfortunately, he was killed in battle. Aryeh had a military funeral at which 1,000 people attended. Ziering said this was only one story of many soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country.

The co-chairs of the dinner were Heather and Jared Dermont and Brooke and Guy Shmuel.

To make a contribution to Friends of the IDF, visit the website and donate online to the Emergency Campaign–fidf.org.

Michael Feldstein is a contributing editor for The Jewish Link. He owns his own marketing consulting firm, MGF Marketing, and can be reached at [email protected].

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