July 12, 2024
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IDF Musical Ensemble to Perform in Englewood

Englewood—The IDF Musical Ensemble will be performing on December 12 at Congregation Ahavath Torah, 230 Broad Street, in Englewood, at 7:30 pm, to light up Chanukah with festive Israeli music. The event is being sponsored by Jewish schools and organizations from all over Bergen County. “It’s a great way to celebrate Chanukah with the whole Jewish community and have a good time,” said Howard Gases, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) New Jersey director, and the organizer of the performance. “We’d like people to come and bring some cheer, and find out more about what the IDF does.”

The IDF has 15 musical ensembles, each composed of two men, two women and a commander, who perform all over the country where IDF forces are stationed, and for civilians both in Israel and abroad. Irene Gottesman, a member of the event-planning committee, said, “Everyone in the Jewish community will be able to enjoy the music. The rabbis of Ahavath Torah have consulted with FIDF about kol isha restrictions and there will not be female soloists.”

To become a member of the ensembles, men and women go through a rigorous audition or gibbush process; out of the hundreds who apply annually, only a few are chosen. Acceptance is based on talent, charisma and stage presence. According to the FIDF, many of the most celebrated Israeli singers and musicians are alumni of IDF musical ensembles. Although participants go through basic military training, and are qualified to guard IDF bases, they do not deploy to combat.

Gases said IDF Musical Ensemble performances help raise funds for many IDF projects. Friends of the IDF is raising money now to purchase 100,000 kosher mezuzahs for army bases, synagogues and mobile units. “They’re forty dollars each and we need them all over,” Gases said. Friends of the IDF also funds flights for lone soldiers to visit their families, scholarships for former soldiers to attend university and programs for children who have lost a parent or sibling in the IDF. A group in Bergen County is raising money specifically for an elite unit of the IDF to build a recreation center. FIDF in New Jersey raises about $4 million dollars annually, and nationally the FDIF raises about $100 million dollars.

Gases came to Friends of the IDF after many leadership positions in the Jewish community, including the Jewish Federation and Jewish National Fund. He is passionate about helping the IDF do its job of defending Israel. “I want to help the soldiers. They could be our kids—they are our kids.”

Tickets can be purchased at: www.fidf.org/hanukkaensemble.

By Bracha Schwartz

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