More than 1,100 young professionals from across greater Los Angeles gathered Saturday, March 10, at The MacArthur for the 10th annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Young Leadership (YL) LA Roaring ‘20s Old Hollywood Gala, which raised over $500,000 to support the wellbeing of IDF soldiers.
The gala honored the legacy of Zev Karkomi, who was born in Ukraine and escaped the Holocaust, moving to Israel in 1941. Karkomi joined Israel’s fight for independence as a member of the Haganah, later serving as a captain in the IDF. He moved to Chicago in 1960, where, despite his modest means, he was able to build a thriving business and soon became a major supporter of FIDF. His grandson, FIDF National Board Member and Western Region Vice President Ari Ryan, co-founded FIDF’s Young Leadership Division in LA to continue Karkomi’s legacy.
“LA’s FIDF Young Leadership Division is more successful than ever. Over the last decade more than 6,000 young LA professionals have gotten involved through our events and helped us to raise much-needed funds to support Israel’s brave soldiers,” said Ryan, who chaired the gala for his 10th and final year. “I am so proud of what we have accomplished, and am humbled by the passion and desire to give back demonstrated by LA’s young professional community.”
The ‘20s-themed gala, one of LA’s premier young leadership fundraising events, featured performances by rapper Warren G, and Maggie Speaks with Journey former lead vocalist Steve Augeri. The event also boasted gourmet food, casino-style games, and offered more than $125,000 in luxury prizes – including jewelry, sports memorabilia, hotel stays, and contemporary art.
Vice-chairing the gala were FIDF YL-LA President Zach Zalben, FIDF YL-LA Board of Directors Member Jennie Arad, who is the incoming FIDF YL-LA president, and FIDF YL-LA Executive Board Members Robert Roig and Michael Spector.
Among the distinguished guests were IDF soldiers, including a former Lone Soldier – one who serves in the IDF without any immediate family in Israel; “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” cast member Josh Flagg and his husband Bobby Boyd, who were gala sponsors; and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.
The funds raised at this event will support FIDF well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers, including: the IMPACT! Program, which grants full academic scholarships to IDF combat veterans; the Lone Soldiers Program, which supports soldiers with no immediate family in Israel; and the Wounded Veterans Program, which provides wounded veterans with physical, social, and psychological services and special prosthetics.