Some 550 community leaders raised $400,000 to support well-being and educational programs for the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event last week.

The Wednesday evening event, which is one of the Long Island Jewish community’s largest gatherings, featured active-duty IDF soldiers, including Sgt. Yehuda of Cedarhust, a Lone Soldier – one serving in the IDF with no immediate family in Israel - who currently serves in the Golani Brigade; Sgt. Sa’ar, a lookout in the IDF Eagle Battalion of the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps; Maj. Y., company commander in an elite IDF unit; and Maj. Hod, who was a deputy commander of Battalion 101 of the IDF Givati Brigade during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, and has joined the IDF Witnesses in Uniform Delegation to Poland.

Emceeing the event was renowned attorney, Benjamin J. Branfman Esq.

The event honored Malky and Jay Spector   and their parents, Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits, staunch supporters of FIDF. Their collected efforts enable soldiers to carry out their mission of defending Israel, while maintaining a strong and meaningful life.

(Left to right) Honorees Jay and Malky Spector; Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography
(Left to right) Honorees Jay and Malky Spector; Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography

FIDF also welcomed Pninit Cole as the new FIDF Long Island Director. Cole joins the FIDF following years of developing new programs for the New Jersey Federation of YMHA and YWHA.

“I am proud to honor Malky and Jay Spector, and Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits - outstanding supporters of Israel and FIDF - with the L’Dor V’Dor Generation to Generation Award. I am inspired by their love for Israel and its soldiers as I join the FIDF as Long Island Director,” said Cole. “I am privileged to join the FIDF and lead this event, working together with this incredible community.”

(Left to right) FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, Master of Ceremonies Benjamin Brafman Esq., and FIDF Long Island Chairman Ronny Ben-Josef at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography
(Left to right) FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, Master of Ceremonies Benjamin Brafman Esq., and FIDF Long Island Chairman Ronny Ben-Josef at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography

Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits are Holocaust survivors who are great supporters of Israel and its soldiers. Judith’s family was able to save over 50 lives during the Holocaust, though besides for Judith and her grandfather, they themselves perished in Auschwitz. Zoltan was a survivor of 6 different camps. The two have always been avid Zionists and actualized their dreams of going to Israel in 1966. Their love for Israel shows through their support for FIDF, and they passed that love onto their children, the Spectors. 

Sgt Mariya, FIDF Long Island Chairman Ronny Ben-Josef, Master of Ceremonies Benjamin Brafman Esq., Sgt. Sa’ar; Sgt Idan; Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography
Sgt Mariya, FIDF Long Island Chairman Ronny Ben-Josef, Master of Ceremonies Benjamin Brafman Esq., Sgt. Sa’ar; Sgt Idan; Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography

The Spectors have loved Israel since their youth. While attending the FIDF National New York Gala ten years ago, they were inspired to bring this support for the men and women of the IDF home to Long Island. They were instrumental in establishing the FIDF South Shore Chapter and the FIDF Five Towns and Greater South Shore Annual Event and Shabbaton. 

FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta; Maj. Hod; Sgt. Yehuda; Sgt. Sa’ar; Jay and Malky Spector; Melissa Spector; Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits; Sgt. Mariya; Sgt Idan; FIDF Long Island Director Pninit Cole at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography
FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta; Maj. Hod; Sgt. Yehuda; Sgt. Sa’ar; Jay and Malky Spector; Melissa Spector; Judith and Zoltan Lefkovits; Sgt. Mariya; Sgt Idan; FIDF Long Island Director Pninit Cole at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Annual Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography

“We salute the brave heroes of the IDF who risk their lives to protect Israel and Jews around the world,” said FIDF Long Island Chairman Ronny Ben-Josef. “Our annual dinner is a great opportunity for FIDF supporters to meet and thank the young men and women who look after the Jewish state today.”

Other distinguished guests in attendance were FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta

The Y-Studs, an all-male acapella group from Yeshiva University, performed popular and traditional music.

Maj. (Res.) Barak; Jonathan Lefkovits; Marci Lefkovits; Ethan Lefkovits, Jeremy Spector; Emme Jacobs; Jeffrey Jacobs, Ayelet Jacobs; Jordana Jacobs; Zoltan Lefkovits; Judith Lefkovits; Melissa Spector, Malky Spector; Jay Spector, Maj. Hod; Sgt. Mariya; Sgt. Idan, Sgt. Sa’ar at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography
Maj. (Res.) Barak; Jonathan Lefkovits; Marci Lefkovits; Ethan Lefkovits, Jeremy Spector; Emme Jacobs; Jeffrey Jacobs, Ayelet Jacobs; Jordana Jacobs; Zoltan Lefkovits; Judith Lefkovits; Melissa Spector, Malky Spector; Jay Spector, Maj. Hod; Sgt. Mariya; Sgt. Idan, Sgt. Sa’ar at the May 15 FIDF Five Towns & Greater South Shore Community Event. Photo credit: Aron Michael Photography