More than 350 guests from Cleveland’s Jewish community and across Ohio gathered on Wednesday, June 6, at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights for a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Ohio Chapter Guys’ Night Out, which raised $150,000 to support well-being and educational programs for the brave soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The evening, co-chaired by Jeff Cohen and Richard Uria, featured an open bar with premium liquors and wines from around the world, a cigar lounge, a kosher strolling dinner, casino-style games, and a live auction and raffle drawings. Proceeds from the night will benefit educational and well-being programs for Israeli soldiers.

“Guys Night Out has grown incredibly over the past seven years to become one of the FIDF Ohio Chapter’s premier social events,” said FIDF Ohio Director Lane Schlessel. “We’ve seen scores of new faces come out to support the soldiers, and have attracted some 50 corporate sponsors each year.”

In its inaugural year, the FIDF Ohio Guys’ Night Out raised almost $100,000. The event has quickly become one of the biggest events in Cleveland’s social scene, attracting business leaders and philanthropists from across Ohio. The event has raised nearly $1 million since its inception.

(From left) FIDF supporters Yoel Mayerfeld, Noam Magence, who was on the event’s host committee, and Hillel Kipins.
(From left) FIDF supporters Yoel Mayerfeld, Noam Magence, who was on the event’s host committee, and Hillel Kipins.

These funds have been used to support projects across Israel, including furnishing a recreation and sports facility for the elite IDF Paratroopers unit; a cultural center and outdoor leisure space for special operations forces in the IDF’s Combat Engineering Corps; leisure areas for combat soldiers in the IDF’s elite Golani infantry brigade; a heritage center and garden for IDF Paratroopers’ special operations forces; a gymnasium for one of the IDF’s elite intelligence units; the renovation of a basketball court, and furnishings for a cultural room and a garden at the Havat Hashomer base for soldiers completing their high school educations during their army service; and two mobile recreation rooms for the IDF Artillery Corps’ special operations unit.

(From left) FIDF supporters Alan Gottlieb, Barry Feldman, who was an event sponsor, Irving Rosner, Rich Loeb, and Paul When.
(From left) FIDF supporters Alan Gottlieb, Barry Feldman, who was an event sponsor, Irving Rosner, Rich Loeb, and Paul When.

At this year’s event, a live auction raised funds for three leisure areas and 30 picnic tables for the soldiers in the Israeli Navy’s 13th flotilla, a special naval operations unit comparable to the U.S. Navy SEALS. FIDF is still raising funds for this project.

(From left) Holocaust survivor Leon Shear with FIDF Ohio Director Lane Schlessel.
(From left) Holocaust survivor Leon Shear with FIDF Ohio Director Lane Schlessel.

Distinguished guests included Holocaust survivor Leon Shear, who returned to Auschwitz with FIDF’s “From Holocaust to Independence” mission in April; FIDF Midwest Executive Director Tamir Oppenheim; Schlessel; and many others.