Seventeen of New York’s most prestigious real estate professionals and supporters of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) joined the FIDF Real Estate Mission to Israel, Nov. 5-10, getting an inside look into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and showing their solidarity with and appreciation for Israel’s brave soldiers.

The mission brought the real estate leaders together with the soldiers of the IDF. Mission participants received in-depth briefings by senior military and intelligence officers. They also toured strategic military installations, including the Hatzerim Air Force Base, the Haifa Naval Base, and a post in the Golan Heights, to get a behind-the-scenes look into the Israeli military and meet front-line combat soldiers, experiencing Israel in an entirely new way.

Leading the FIDF Real Estate Mission to Israel were FIDF National Board Member and New York Real Estate Division Chairman Emeritus Ofer Yardeni, who is chairman and CEO of Stonehenge Partners; FIDF New York Real Estate Division Chairman Shimon Shkury, who is also founder and president of Ariel Property Advisors; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta.

“The FIDF Real Estate Mission that arrived from New York to tour Israel this week came to the conclusion that one of the most special things about the State of Israel is its people,” said Yardeni. “You can find great scenery and good food anywhere. By meeting with the soldiers – the pilots, the cyber warriors, the sailors – in fact, any soldier in Israel – we understood the great love they have not only for the State of Israel and the place in which they live, but also for the people who live in it. As they say, we must be responsible for one another – ‘kol Israel arevim ze laze.’ Mission participants understood very well that whoever lives in Israel is responsible for each other, and is willing to give. This is the most important takeaway: the unity, pride, and Zionism that this mission saw in the State of Israel.”

“One of the most important things I think our mission experienced was visiting the army bases. In each one of these army bases, we met soldiers who were directly impacted by the FIDF and its mission and programs. That was a great experience,” said Shkury.

The N.Y. real estate leaders who visited Israel this week included Shkury and Yardeni along with WeWork Real Estate Co-Head Todd Bassen, BRG Founder and President Daniel Benedict, Silverstein Properties CEO Marty Burger, Stonehenge NYC Investment Management Division Managing Director Richard Dansereau, BWD Group Principal and Vice President Ned Dubofsky, HFZ Capital Founder and Chairman Ziel Feldman, Savills Studley Capital Markets Group Executive Managing Director and Co-Head Warren “Woody” Heller, Greenberg Traurig Real Estate Practice Chair Robert J. Ivanhoe, First Nationwide Title Agency Executive Vice President and Director of Sales Steven LaForgia, Fried Frank Real Estate Department Chairman Jonathan L. Mechanic, Gym Source CEO Richard Miller, Criterion Real Estate Capital Founder and Managing Partner Charles “Chuck” Rosenzweig, Hunter Property Advisors CEO Scott Smith, and Glenwood Management Vice President Steven L. Swarzman.

“I was lucky enough to come on this FIDF mission to Israel. Meeting government, military, and business leaders allowed us to get unbelievable insight into the country and its challenges,” said Mechanic. “Meeting the soldiers was incredible. We got a sense of who they are, where they come from, how committed they are to the country and the army and how much they gain from being in the service – and the contributions of FIDF to their well-being. We all know that there are challenges that Israel faces and that we all have to do our best to be there to help the soldiers.”

The FIDF New York Real Estate Division was created in 2006 by a group of successful business and philanthropic leaders who were passionate about uniting members of the real estate community to support the men and women who protect and defend the Jewish State. Since then, this division has helped support several projects, including the construction of a well-being center at the IDF Revaya Base for the 188th Armored Brigade’s 71st battalion, and supporting other well-being programs for soldiers. The Real Estate Division plays a central role in the activities of the FIDF Tri-State Region.