Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors, under the leadership of John Klein z’l, to provide for education and the wellbeing of the men and women who serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as well as the families of fallen soldiers. Headquartered in New York City, FIDF is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation that operates 15 regional offices in the United States and Panama.
The strength of the IDF, which has been guarding the State of Israel since it declared independence in 1948, derives from the selfless determination and great capabilities of the young men and women who form it. At the tender age of 18, all Israelis are drafted into the IDF. Those who serve, commit to uphold the difficult tasks of defending Israel’s borders and guaranteeing the safety of its people.
The Israeli government is responsible for training IDF soldiers, and providing them with the necessary tools for their service. FIDF is committed to providing these soldiers with love, support, and care, in an effort to ease the burden they carry on behalf of the Jewish community worldwide.
FIDF brings hundreds of IDF soldiers to the U.S. every year, to participate in special events and programs, such as IDF Musical Ensemble performances, parlor meetings, lectures at synagogues and schools, regional gala dinners, and meetings with FIDF supporters. These events offer a great opportunity to meet IDF soldiers and hear the stories of these brave young men and women.
They recently had their first major event here in Orange County, called “Music Brings Us Together,” held this past April, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. It featured the IDF Chief Cantor, Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, the IDF Choir, other local cantors, and a full orchestra. This year they even had our very own Tarbut V’Torah Children’s Choir performing alongside the IDF Choir. What an incredible moment, to see the children singing together with the IDF, further illustrating the idea that music certainly brings us together. What also brings us together is our passion and love for the soldiers who fight to protect Israel.
In addition to education, events and programs, Friends of the IDF have what they call the Lone Soldier Program—Israel’s Lone Soldiers are those whose families live abroad and chose to leave their countries of origin to serve the State of Israel. These soldiers willingly accept the responsibility of defending Israel, their adopted home, in the name of Jews worldwide. Many choose to serve in combat positions, enduring grueling training, exercises, missions and operations, all to ensure Israel’s safety. This program is a very important one to Orange County, especially because we have so many Lone Soldiers who are currently serving, or have served in the past.
If you would like to learn more please visit their website at www.fidf.org.
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works for the CEO and President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.