Today, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), the official American organization supporting the well-being of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, announced its 2021 fundraising priorities. The announcement follows ongoing discussions with IDF Manpower Directorate senior commanders regarding the soldiers’ well-being and educational needs.
IDF soldiers are supported by FIDF and its programs at various points throughout their military service, depending on their specific needs. FIDF invests in a variety of programs that exhibit a wide impact on Israeli society, ranging from education and culture to welfare and health.
FIDF’s 2021 fundraising priorities are thus based on corresponding formal IDF requests, and focus on 1) education, 2) financial relief, and 3) well-being needs of soldiers throughout their respective IDF journeys.
FIDF’s 2021 education fundraising priorities focus on post-service Uniform to University (U2U) Scholarships, guaranteeing higher education for thousands of IDF veterans, including those in financial need, Lone Soldiers, new immigrants, minorities, and combat soldiers; Project Overcome, offering some 3,000 soldiers - at-risk youth who have been historically considered unfit for military service - a series of empowerment courses including interactive workshops and educational skill-building sessions that promote self-sufficiency and provide a life-changing opportunity to integrate successfully into IDF service and beyond; Formal Education, enabling 455 soldiers to complete their high school education and earn their diplomas; Witnesses in Uniform, funding a delegation of IDF officers to visit and learn about Holocaust sites in Poland; and Essence Delegation for 40 IDF commanders to strengthen and understand Jewish Diaspora identities.
In addition to following the IDF’s educational needs, FIDF continues to fundraise for and provide post-service scholarships based on socio-economic needs for some 1,250 new IDF combat veterans through FIDF’s IMPACT! Scholarship Program.
FIDF’s 2021 financial-relief efforts prioritize pre-enlistment vouchers for some 1,000 low-income soldiers to purchase basic necessities for use during their service; 10 brigades already adopted through FIDF’s Adopt a Brigade Program, as well as 6 additional brigades available for adoption; 80 IDF units adopted through Adopt a Battalion Program; Rosh Hashanah Holiday Gift Vouchers for 6,500 Lone Soldiers and 2,500 low-income soldiers; as well as food vouchers and grants for some 20,000 soldiers in-need, distributed by their commanders.
FIDF’s 2021 well-being fundraising needs range from a Combat Soldiers’ Fun Day for 4,000 soldiers serving in combat units; sponsoring 7 cycles of Bereaved Families retreats and seminars in Israel; and sponsoring Ice Cream Trucks that will delight 9,000 soldiers all across Israel.
Along with these programs, Lone Soldiers, who join the IDF from all over the world and have no immediate family in Israel, benefit from additional services, and thus FIDF’s 2021 fundraising goals continue to concentrate on flights to visit family abroad for 1,200 Lone Soldiers; a Lone Soldiers’ Fun Day for some 4,000 Lone Soldiers; and Warm Homes (apartment rent) for some 35 combat Lone Soldiers.
FIDF is also deeply committed to the construction of a home in Rishon LeZion, Israel that will consist of individual rooms for 200 Lone Soldiers; and to its partnership with the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, and fundraising for the FIDF-Nefesh B'Nefesh Program, which supports over 3,500 Lone Soldiers from 70 countries around the world.
For soldiers wounded in battle, and the families who have suffered the devastating loss of a loved-one in the IDF, FIDF offers care and comfort as they rebuild their futures, by helping with their healing process, strengthening mental and physical capabilities, and celebrating life-cycle events.
Besides its diverse programming, FIDF also continues to invest in constructing, refurbishing, and maintaining buildings for the well-being of IDF soldiers, among them sports centers, culture halls, synagogues, memorial rooms, swimming pools, sports facilities, and soldiers’ homes throughout Israel.
“We are tremendously grateful for FIDF’s ongoing commitment to the well-being of IDF soldiers. In the last 40 years since FIDF was established, the state of Israel and the IDF went through major milestones and undertaken challenging endeavors, and we have always appreciated that FIDF has been there to support us,” said Lt. Col. Keren Weiss, Head of the IDF Welfare and Donations Branch. “FIDF’s valuable partnership is a reminder that the IDF’s mission is crucial to the people of Israel, and also to people around the world.”
“Despite these difficult times, we at FIDF are committed and excited to continue supporting the brave IDF soldiers,” said FIDF National Director and CEO, Steven Weil. “The principles of social action, social well-being, equity, diversity, and inclusion are at the heart of FIDF’s programs and services, impacting all soldiers, including minorities and disadvantaged populations in Israel. By following IDF’s official requests and funding these vital programs that create life-transforming opportunities to thousands of soldiers, FIDF helps the IDF serve as the ultimate equalizer and betters the futures of Israel’s soldiers for generations to come.”