Some 650 Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters from the Boca Raton area gathered on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Palm Beach/ Broward Region’s 16th Annual Gala at The Polo Club of Boca Raton, raising over $1.5 million for well-being and educational programs for the brave soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Danny Danon, provided the keynote address to many rounds of applause, as he spoke about Israel’s positive global impact and achievements at the UN. In addition, Ambassador Danon told the audience about recently taking over 60 ambassadors on a fact- finding mission to Poland and Israel, and that for a majority of the ambassadors, this was their first trip to Israel.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came to the event to honor his close personal friends, Dr. Jeffrey and Barbara Feingold, as did First Lady Casey DeSantis, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. Governor DeSantis spoke about his unequivocal support of Israel and the Jewish community of Florida while praising the brave soldiers of the IDF.
“I was honored to be here tonight amongst so many friends who support Israel,” said Governor DeSantis. “I am proud to say that Florida has a special relationship with Israel and I will continue to work to support this great ally of the United States.”
Dr. Jeffrey and Barbara Feingold, of Delray Beach, were honored for their generous support of Israel's soldiers, including a recent donation of a new synagogue and Torah scroll to the soldiers of an IDF base in Southern Israel.
“We are truly humbled to be honored. We are always thinking of our love for Israel and the IDF soldiers who risk their lives to protect it,” said the Feingolds. “The dedication of the Feingold Family Synagogue and Sefer Torah on the Mishmar HaNegev base was a highlight of our lives.”
Co- chairing the gala were Paul Segal, Elyce Segal, and FIDF Palm Beach/Broward Region board members Tom and Donna Segal.
Active-duty Israeli soldiers were featured during the program, including Cpl. Ofir, an IDF intelligence soldier who was recently instrumental in preventing terrorists from entering Israel; Sgt. Hilla; and Maj. Yehuda. Last year, while both soldiers were serving along the contentious Gaza border, Sgt. Hilla saved the life of Maj. Yehuda, her commander, when he was hit in the chest by shrapnel. Another active-duty soldier, who is a Boca Raton native and serving as a Lone Soldier - one who enlists in the IDF without having any immediate family in Israel, Sgt. J., left the audience in tears as he surprised his parents on stage.
“The FIDF’s annual Palm Beach/Broward gala is an opportunity for our Jewish and non-Jewish supporters to hear firsthand from brave IDF soldiers who directly benefit from FIDF’s programs,” said FIDF Palm Beach/Broward Executive Director Susan Levin-Abir. “This year, our local community enjoyed hearing a unique perspective on the bond between American Jews, Israel, and the brave soldiers of the IDF and honoring Dr. Jeffrey and Barbara Feingold for their selfless contributions to the IDF.”
Other distinguished guests included FIDF National Board Member and Palm Beach/Broward Region Chairman Jerry Mizel; FIDF National Board Member and Palm Beach/Broward Region President Robert Hammer, who emceed the event; FIDF National Board Member and Palm Beach/Broward Region Board Member Richard Kwal, and his wife, Gail; FIDF National President Robert Cohen; and FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.