More than 350 leaders from the Westchester community gathered for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Westchester Annual Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester to salute the brave soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

With expert guidance from Dinner Co-Chair Aram Rubinson as Master of Ceremonies, the evening brought supporters and IDF soldiers together for an unforgettable celebration of personal commitment, sacrifice and solidarity for Israel and for the Jewish community worldwide. Dinner Co-Chairs Hyla and Steve Ruby set the evening's tone with gratitude: "We salute you, we stand by you. You put your lives on the line to protect us all and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts." 

It was with greatest pride that we welcomed home two courageous Lone Soldiers from our very own community: Sergeant Alexander of New Rochelle, now guarding the city of Hebron and surrounding areas with the Nachal Brigade, and Corporal Margot of Harrison who serves in the Oketz Canine Unit and shared: "It is true that, as lone soldiers, we are at a disadvantage... FIDF really makes it better and makes a difference in our lives."

First Lieutenant Nir shared a harrowing tale of overcoming adversity and how our support provided a lifeline for survival and recovery: " that mission, when Hamas buried us under the clinic... what saved me was all the training I did at the FIDF-donated gym on my base: my body could endure small amounts of oxygen and my lungs were so strong they could endure the smoke. Because of that gym, because of people like you, because of people who care, I'm here standing in front of you. I'm still alive."  

Sarit Gomez, widow of fallen pilot Captain Daniel Gomez z"l, told her story and then   brought her son, Aviya Daniel, to join IDF Ensemble musicians in a shared song of remembrance. 

An insider conversation with The Green Prince, Mosab Hassan Yousef -- moderated by Avi Issacharoff, Middle East Analyst for The Times of Israel -- capped the evening.