Over 300 Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters from the North Texas community gathered on Sunday, Dec. 8, for the FIDF North Texas Chapter Launch Celebration, “A Night of Heroes,” at the Vouv. The event raised $250,000 to support the men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and contribute to FIDF’s well-being and educational programs.

Member of Israel’s Knesset (parliament) and recently appointed Deputy Minister of Defense Avi Dichter delivered the event’s keynote address. The son of Holocaust survivors, Dichter also served as chairman of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen and Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, at the Dec. 8. FIDF North Texas Chapter Launch Celebration
Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen and Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, at the Dec. 8. FIDF North Texas Chapter Launch Celebration. Photo Credit: Holly Kuper Photography.

FIDF North Texas Chapter supporter and technology executive Morton H. Meyerson served as the event’s honorary chair, and Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen of Nishmat Am Synagogue emceed the event.

The Lockheed Martin Corporation supported the FIDF event with a “Prime Minister” sponsorship of $50,000, the highest level of event sponsorship. Bell Helicopter sponsored the chapter event with a “Minister of Defense” level sponsorship of $25,000.

A delegation of IDF soldiers participated in the event, including Cpt. Avihu, who serves in the Israeli Navy and participated in the recent IDF Operations “Protective Edge” and “Pillar of Defense.” Cpt. A. took part in the IDF “Witnesses in Uniform” delegation to Poland, a program supported by FIDF, which he says helped him understand “the true meaning” of his IDF service. Also attending were Staff Sgt. Yadin, an IDF combat veteran of the Golani Brigade who was granted the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship; and Lt. Commander O., who in 2015 was promoted to become the youngest head of operations in Israeli Navy history.

During the launch celebration, IDF soldiers saluted three local Holocaust survivors and awarded them with FIDF’s Medal of Heroism modeled on the IDF’s Medal of Valor, the highest Israeli military decoration.

Holocaust survivor Tova Feldman, and Staff Sergeant (Res.) Yadin, at the Dec. 8. FIDF North Texas Chapter Launch Celebration.
Holocaust survivor Tova Feldman, and Staff Sergeant (Res.) Yadin, at the Dec. 8. FIDF North Texas Chapter Launch Celebration. Photo Credit: Holly Kuper Photography

Distinguished guests at the FIDF launch celebration included founder of the non-profit “Combat Faith Ministry,” Allen B. Clark, recipient of a Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge; US Marine Corps Gen. (Res.) Robert (Bob) Magnus; Lt. Col. Allen West, former member of the US House of Representatives; FIDF North Texas Chapter Board Chair Yoram Avneri; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF North Texas Director Kathi Ravkind Sebastian.

“We are so proud of this wonderful celebration, the first of its kind to be hosted by the newly launched FIDF North Texas Chapter,” said Ravkind Sebastian. “Six months ago, when we started the chapter, I never thought we’d fill a room with 300 people. It shows how much our community cares for our IDF soldiers. We are extremely proud of the progress and growth of the chapter and thankful for the tremendous support we have received.”

FIDF North Texas Chapter Board Chair Yoram Avneri; Cpt. Avihu; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.
FIDF North Texas Chapter Board Chair Yoram Avneri; Cpt. Avihu; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir. Photo Credit: Holly Kuper Photography.

The North Texas FIDF Chapter is taking steps to bridge the local Christian and Jewish communities in support of Israel and IDF soldiers. On Friday, Dec. 6, the Gateway Church of North Texas hosted the IDF soldiers at a Hanukkah event led by Pastor Greg Stone, with over 1,000 participants. Before the FIDF launch party on Sunday, several influential Christian leaders met with Klifi-Amir and Ravkind Sebastian.