Almost $23.5 Million Raised at National NY Gala Dinner!

The energy and excitement in the air was infectious as almost $23.5 million was raised Tuesday night, March 22, when close to 1,500 notable business and philanthropic leaders gathered at the historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National NY Gala Dinner, demonstrating their love and support for the soldiers of Israel.

This year marks FIDF’s 30th Anniversary – a remarkable milestone that is a testament to the incredible generosity and commitment of FIDF supporters. In celebration of this occasion, the guests were joined by six former IDF Chiefs of Staff, including the keynote speaker, Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak (1991-1995), Lt. Gen. (Res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (1995-1998), Lt. Gen. (Res.) Shaul Mofaz (1998-2002), Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon (2002-2005), Lt. Gen. (Res.) Dan Halutz (2005-2007), and Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi (2007-2011). In a special historic moment, they stood together on one stage and saluted the audience for 30 years of giving.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International
Fellowship of Christians and Jews, making a pledge

Arthur, Sylvia, Danielle and Jordan Stark with Lt. Gen. Gabi
Ashkenazi (c)

Cpt. Alon with Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi (l) with bereaved mother Miriam Peretz (r) and
her children, Avichay and Bat-El Peretz

Mr. Benny Shabtai chaired the dinner for his 15th year, and author and nationally syndicated radio host Dr. Monica Crowley once again served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak served as the evening’s keynote speaker, focusing on the importance of supporting the IDF soldiers now more than ever from all across the Diaspora. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conversed with Mr. Shabtai via satellite to brief the audience about Israel’s current affairs and express his appreciation for the great work of both Israel’s soldiers and their supporters in the U.S.

One of the evening’s highlights included a brief glimpse, via live-satellite, into the future of Israel’s incredible efforts to defend its courageous citizens. Lt. Noam from Israel’s main Air Force base showed guests a behind-the-scenes look at the central command center for anti-missile defense. In addition, a tank crew member shared his personal experience with the cutting-edge technology that saved his life, when earlier this month his tank successfully deployed a miniature missile system for the first time in history. Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who was recently sworn in as the IDF’s 20th Chief of Staff, made a special appearance during the live satellite from the same Air Force base to address the guests about the IDF's technological advancements and pronounce his confidence in the brave men and women who defend the Jewish homeland.

The evening culminated with heartfelt words shared by bereaved mother Miriam Peretz, who tragically lost two sons, Lt. Uriel Peretz z”l and Major Eliraz Peretz z”l. Uriel, Miriam’s beloved firstborn, was killed in battle in Lebanon at the tender age of twenty-two while serving in Sayeret Golani. Eliraz, thirty-two years old and a Deputy Commander of Golani Battalion Twelve, was killed fighting terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Funds raised at this dinner will provide much needed and well-deserved services such as financial support to soldiers in-need and Lone Soldiers from around the world, academic scholarships to former combat soldiers, weeks of rest and recreation for entire IDF units, as well as cultural, educational and sports facilities. The evening was a rare and exclusive opportunity to pay tribute to the State of Israel and send a message of love and support to the brave men and women in uniform.

IDF National Director Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, Lt. Gen.
(Res.) Moshe Ya'alon, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Minister
of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Shaul Mofaz,
Lt. Gen. (Res.) Dan Halutz, and Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi

(l-r) FIDF National President Julian Josephson, Jenny Josephson,
Nili Priel- Barak, Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak,
Dinner Chairman Benny Shabtai, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Maj. Gen. (Res.)
Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon

A bird’s-eye view of the sold-out FIDF National NY Gala at the

Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak and his wife Nili
Priel- Barak with IDF officers

Wanted to support the soldiers on March 22nd but couldn't be there?

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For more information about the event, please call 212-244-3118 ext.50

"It has been the greatest honor to be an integral part of the National NY Gala Dinner for the past 15 years. I treasure my relationship with Friends of the IDF and look forward to continuing this legacy of helping the Israeli soldiers." -
Benny Shabtai, Dinner Chairman

"The NY National Dinner is an emotional event. You hear the everyday stories – which to me are incredible - of Israeli soldiers and how the FIDF is there everyday to provide for their well-being. That night is an opportunity for Americans to stand with the soldiers. I am always proud to be one of them." -
Tony Felzen, Young Leadership President

"Come feel and experience the heart and soul of Israel in the most touching way. Nothing compares; it is truly an amazing evening never to be missed. Taking part in such an event makes me proud to be Jewish." -
Jack Lahav, Former FIDF National President

"The overwhelmingly generous contributions of time and money made by the supporters of the FIDF are so essential, so noble; yet even so, they are eclipsed by the sheer magnitude of the sacrifices made and bravery exhibited on a daily basis by the Israel Defense Forces on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. To those generous contributors and wonderfully brave soldiers alike we owe a debt of gratitude and we say: !תודה רבה”" -
Robert Cyruli, New York supporter
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