Every single day, the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) put their lives on the line to protect the State of Israel, and the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) is in turn devoted to helping these defenders of the Jewish homeland with educational and wellbeing support.
A Night of Heroes
This year, FIDF will salute and celebrate the heroes of the IDF and honor the heroes of the community at the San Diego Annual Gala on Nov. 9 at the Hilton Bayfront San Diego, and the Orange County Annual Gala on Nov. 10 at the Hotel Irvine.
The FIDF Orange County Gala will feature 1st Sgt. (Res.) Sahar Elbaz, an Orange County Lone Soldier and Tarbut V’ Torah Alumni who was awarded for outstanding service during the 2014 IDF Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
A Worthy Mission
While the IDF protects Jews in Israel and around the world, FIDF changes the lives of IDF soldiers during, and after, their military service, through its mission: “To offer cultural, recreational, and social services programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.”
One of FIDF’s flagship programs is supporting Lone Soldiers—those who leave their native countries to join the IDF and serve with no immediate family in Israel. The growing Lone Soldier phenomenon is the most treasured link between Jewish communities in the United States and those in Israel, and Orange County is home to many families of former and current Lone Soldiers.
FIDF’s support for Lone Soldiers includes housing, mentoring, a 24-hour call center, financial grants, flights to visit their families abroad, Shabbat meals, holiday gift packages, social gatherings, Fun Days, and much more. In 2018, FIDF provided guidance and support to over 3,500 Lone Soldiers, ensuring no soldier ever feels alone.
Another leading program is the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants full, four-year academic scholarships to IDF combat veterans of modest means.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, FIDF granted 4,580 IMPACT! scholarships to IDF combat veterans who could not afford the cost of higher education, sponsoring students at over 80 institutions throughout Israel. Each IMPACT! student volunteers in the community for a total of 130 hours each year of their studies, ensuring these veterans pay it forward by helping at 20 different nonprofit organizations.
“As they did 71 years ago, the brave men and women of the IDF still put their lives on the line every day to protect Israel and Jews around the world,” said FIDF Development Director in Orange County, Adam Reingold. “This evening will give our community a chance to meet and personally thank the heroes who risk it all to defend the Jewish homeland, and our supporters will hear firsthand about the incredible impact FIDF’s well-being programs have on these soldiers’ lives.”