Inaugural Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) IMPACT! Scholarship 4-Star Society honors scholarship sponsors.

Some 120 Chicago-area Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters gathered at Bryn Mawr Country Club on Sunday, Oct. 9, to honor sponsors of the FIDF IMPACT! ScholarshipProgram, which grants college scholarships to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) combat veterans of modest means.The event recognized all supporters of the program, who were inducted into FIDF’s inaugural IMPACT! Four-Star Society.

Speaking at the event was former Israeli Vice Prime Minister Lt. Gen. (Res.) Shaul Mofaz, who also previously served as Israel’s minister of defense and the IDF’s chief of the general staff.

During his address, Mofaz recalled the founding of the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program in 2002, when FIDFCentral Region Board of Directors Member Al Frank, of Chicago, asked Mofaz to help Israeli combat veterans –even as the IDF chief of the general staff was dealing with the Second Intifada. Mofaz also spoke about thecurrent situation facing Israel, and how important education is to Israel’s national prosperity and security.Also speaking were FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipients Maj. (Res.) Elad, who served as an officer in the IDF’selite Nahal Brigade, and Capt. (Res.) Alin, who served in a combat engineering special operations unit.

“A few years into my military service, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and, eventually, I left the army tohelp care for her,” said Alin, who had immigrated to Israel from Ukraine and served in the IDF for more thanfive years. “Before she passed away, I promised her that I would be the best I could be. Thanks to FIDF’sIMPACT! Program, I was able to attend college, and I’m now working towards a bachelor’s in accounting.”

Since the inception of FIDF’s IMPACT! Scholarship Program in 2002, FIDF has supported 10,498 four-year academic scholarships, each of which costs a total of $16,000, to Israeli combat veterans from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds pursuing higher education at more than 90 institutions in Israel. During the 2015-16 academic year, FIDF’s IMPACT! Scholarship Program granted 3,584 scholarships to deserving individualsand is one of FIDF's flagship and most successful programs.

The power of the FIDF IMPACT! Program resonates far beyond the individual, as each scholarship recipient is required to give back to his or her community by completing 130 volunteer hours during each year of study, making IMPACT! the premier scholarship program providing community service in Israel.

“FIDF’s Central Region has supported IMPACT! scholarships for more than 2,000 students since the program’s founding,” said FIDF Midwest Executive Director Tamir Oppenheim. “I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this important program, which helps Israeli combat veterans – who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education – attend university and continue contributing toIsrael’s future even after completing their military service.”

Other distinguished guests at the event included the consul general of Israel to the Midwest, Aviv Ezra; FIDFNational Vice President Rob Selati; FIDF National Chairman Emeritus Larry J. Hochberg; FIDF Central RegionChairman Daniel J. Hyman; and FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.