Tri-State Donors Open Doors to Opportunity with IMPACT! Scholarships
and a Soldier’s Story
The Wiener family tops 100 students sponsored; donors make direct connections in Israel and America and a soldier shares his story of a life transformed:
The IMPACT! Scholarship Program enables deserving IDF combat and combat-support veterans to achieve their dreams of higher education. (Learn more about IMPACT! after the Soldier’s Story below.)
At an October 28th Tel Aviv gathering to welcome the new class of FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship recipients, Tri-State’s own Westchester supporter Robert Weiner – who, together with his wife Sherry, has sponsored a grand total of 100 IMPACT! students through the years -- received a wonderful surprise when he was invited on stage to meet with the 18 new students he adopted for 2016. (Learn more about IMPACT! below.)
(Robert Weiner surrounded by the 18 new FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship students adopted this year, creating a matchless total of 100 lives transformed to date.)
Just a few weeks later, during the 2016 November FIDF Mission to Israel, more Tri-State donors had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with sponsored IMPACT! students.
(FIDF National President Peter & Ellen Weintraub)
Another moving meeting came on an earlier mission when Connecticut donor Hannah Bahavi had a chance to spend time with her FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship student, Staff Sgt. (Res.) Amit Papir. Formerly a shooting instructor in the Golani Brigade, Amit is now a social sciences student at Ono Academic College in Israel and had these words to share: “IMPACT! for me is proof that the sky's the limit. My relationship with Hannah is extraordinary. In her I discovered an amazing woman with a heart made of gold. She reminds me how much goodness there is in this world."
(Hannah Bahavi with Amit Papir)
Back in America, an NYC October appreciation gathering for IMPACT! donors celebrated the difference Tri-State donors make: “FIDF’s Tri-State Region has supported IMPACT! Scholarships for 473 students during the 2015-16 academic year,” said Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta. “Thanks to our supporters, Israeli combat veterans who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education are attending university and can continue contributing to Israel’s future even after their military service.” Following a conversation with journalist and author Bret Stephens, Global View columnist at The New York Times, attendees welcomed an IMPACT! Scholarship student who told the transformational tale shared below.
(Harry Gross and Uria Haim)
A Soldier’s Story
From IMPACT! Scholarship Recipient Uria Haim, former officer in the IDF Givaati Brigade.
- Sponsored by Tri-State/New Jersey donor and FIDF National Board Member Harry Gross.
“I am here as a representative for all students that have received the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship. A scholarship that is given to former combat soldiers who otherwise would not have been able to achieve a higher education.
Twenty-six years ago, I was born to an ultra-Orthodox family. At a very early age, my father was sent to prison for the first time. He was charged with several felonies, all involving the use of drugs – to be blunt, he was a drug addict. My parents got divorced when I was still a small child and I continued to live with my mother. She provided for me and my two brothers by working at multiple jobs. When I was nearing my Bar-Mitzvah, things seemed to be improving. My father successfully completed a rehab program and returned to live with us. Things looked good but this was very short-lived.
As a boy that lived in one of the less glamorous neighborhoods in Tel Aviv –there were many opportunities to get involved in criminal actions. I was often involved in fights with other youths. Nevertheless, at the end of the ninth grade, I changed. It may sound a bit cliché but the change resulted from my father being arrested again this time for international drug smuggling. It did not end well for my father. He was convicted and sentenced to 7 years in prison, very close to his hearing, he collapsed. He eventually passed away.
I mentioned previously that the change in me started when I understood, that I am responsible for my destiny and at that moment I knew that I would become a combat officer. I enlisted to one of the commando units of the Givaati infantry brigade – thus the purple beret.
I served five years in the IDF. These years were both challenging and exciting and were very significant in building my character. I have no doubt that the combination of my upbringing and military service have influenced who I am today. The values which I have acquired and the friendships which were formed during my military service, are integral part of my life. I went to a commanders' course, and following a short period in which I served as a commander, I became an officer.
Operation "Protective Edge" began towards the end of my service. I led my soldiers during this operation and to my sorrow, lost friends and comrades during the fighting, among them Yuval Haiman who I trained with in Officers’ school and Hadar Goldin, who to this day his body is still being held in Gaza by the Hamas, may they rest in peace.
The decision not to pursue a military career was not easy for me – my commanders requested that I continue, but I wanted to achieve an additional dream which I realized during my father’s trial. I decided then that I will become a lawyer and pursue a role of significance and public service.
To conclude, I would like to say that from where I come from, big dreams usually belong to others. Today, I am proud to say that I am a second-year student in law and psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlia, one of the leading academic institutes in Israel, I feel that I am in control of my own destiny. I say it with complete certainty, that this could not have been possible without the great friends and supporters of FIDF, all of you here tonight.
I would like to heartily thank the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship for this amazing program that has helped so many of us. On a personal note, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Mr. Harry Gross who has granted me this scholarship. The FIDF tremendously contributes to a vast number of students, by recognizing and appreciating our military service in the Israeli Defense Force. Thank you. תודה רבה!”
(The 15th FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship class of 1,400 new students salutes the generous sponsors who provide for their future success)
The FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program
Now in its 15th year, the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program currently enables 4,000 deserving combat and combat-support veterans to fulfill their dreams of higher education. IMPACT! resonates beyond the individual as students give back to the community with 130 hours of volunteer service while in school, and later emerge prepared to make meaningful contributions to Israeli society.
The IMPACT! Scholarship program is unique in its ability to truly transform the lives of IDF veterans from lower socioeconomic backgrounds:
* IMPACT! is the only program exclusively supporting soldiers in financial need.
* IMPACT! covers up to four years of education.
* IMPACT! does not require soldiers to use any part of their end-of-service grants.
* IMPACT! provides funds to cover soldiers living expenses while they study.
The IMPACT! Scholarship program is also unique in creating direct, often lifelong connections between donors and recipients. These close bonds transform lives for all involved as they strengthen ties of love and care between Jewish communities in America and deserving brother and sister soldiers who have given their all for Israel.
To learn more about how you can join the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship family and be matched with a hopeful veteran in need, please contact your Tri-State staff.
Galit Brichta, Tri-State Executive Director
Galit.Brichta@fidf.org | 646-274-9701 | Tri-State at www.fidf.org