More than 200 of New York’s leading real estate professionals joined forces at the Prince George Ballroom to salute Israel’s bravest at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) New York Real Estate Division Gala, and to raise funds for FIDF’s educational and well-being programs for Israeli soldiers, including the construction of a recreational facility at the IDF’s “Michve Alon” Education and Youth Corps base near Safed.

Jason Schwalbe, vice president of the Hilson Management Corporation, was this year's honoree, recognized for his commitment to Israel’s soldiers and for his leadership in the New York real estate community.   A lifetime friend of both Israel and the Jewish community, Schwalbe’s leadership is especially meaningful, as he is also the grandson of FIDF co-founder John Klein Z’’L.

“I look upon Israel today, and recognize that its existence is nothing short of a miracle. As the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, I understand that all Jews have a duty to preserve and defend our homeland, so that history never repeats itself,” said Schwalbe. “FIDF works tirelessly to prevent tragedy and preserve miracles.”

The FIDF New York Real Estate Division was created in 2006 by a group of successful business and philanthropic leaders who were passionate about supporting the soldiers of the IDF and securing Israel. Since then, this division has played an extensive role in several development projects, including the construction of a well-being center at the IDF Revaya Base for the 188th Brigade’s 71st Battalion, and support for other well-being and educational programs for Israeli soldiers. The Real Estate Division plays a central role in the activities of the FIDF Tri-State Region.

"The IDF soldiers’ courageous, selfless dedication to the security of Jews in Israel and around the world is inspiring,” said FIDF New York Real Estate Division Chairman Shimon Shkury, who is also founder and president of Ariel Property Advisors. “It is my honor and privilege to support the soldiers of the IDF through Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.”

Attending the gala were IDF soldiers, including Capt. (Res.) Heli, an FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship recipient who served as a reserve officer during Operation Protective Edge in 2014; Capt. “G,” an Israeli Air Force pilot; 1st Lt. Ayelet, who deployed to Nepal with the IDF Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue Unit in April 2015, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck, killing more than 8,000 people; and Staff Sgt. Emanuel, who serves in the IDF’s Artillery Corps. Distinguished guests included Schwalbe’s parents, Ruth and Fred Schwalbe; FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta; and FIDF Tri-State Real Estate Division Director Olivia Lichaa.