More than 800 FIDF supporters from Florida and across the country joined the former Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. and former Lone Soldier Michael Oren for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Miami Solidarity Gala at The Diplomat Hotel, that raised over $2 million to support education and well-being services for the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The gala also honored FIDF Greater Miami Chapter Board Member Tzippy Faye Holand with the FIDF Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Greater Miami Chapter saluted the Lone Soldiers – those who immigrate to Israel without immediate family in order to serve in the IDF –from Florida and their parents. Over 70 parents of Lone Soldiers attended the Gala. Three Lone Soldiers who are originally from the Miami area attended the event and spoke about their experiences in the IDF: 2nd Lt. Sara, an intelligence officer with background in combat search and rescue; Sgt. Eitan, who serves in the elite paratrooper brigade; and Cpl. Rachel, a shooting instructor.

The event also featured a video about Sgt. Ohad Benyichai, an Israeli commando who suffered a severe head wound during the infamous 2014 battle in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood. After the video ended, Benyichai and his parents surprised the audience by appearing to speak about their ordeal.

“It was such a special evening witnessing the Lone Soldiers from Florida and their families interact with our supporters. Nights like this help the community forge even stronger bonds with the IDF soldiers,” said FIDF Florida Executive Director Dina Ben-Ari. “It is our duty to help support the brave men and women who chose to leave their homes, families, and friends in order to enlist in the IDF.”

Other distinguished guests included Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attache to the U.S. and Canada Maj. Gen. Michael Edelstein; FIDF National Chairman Emeritus Nily Falic; FIDF Greater Miami Chapter President Oscar Feldenkreis; Tzippy Holand; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and Dina Ben-Ari.