Jerry Kaplan of Melville, Long Island was honored with a surprise ceremony on Feb. 4 at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Long Island-NY Sports Center he donated through FIDF to the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) School for Infantry Corps Professionals and Squad Commanders (“Bislach”) base two decades ago.
While on the military base, Kaplan met with the “Bislach” Brigade Commander, infantry instructors, and officers serving on the base. The moving ceremony featured a choir performance, speeches, and a special award from Alon Even, Managing Director of the FIDF office in Israel, as a token of gratitude.
Kaplan, a long-time supporter of FIDF, has been involved with the organization since its establishment. He has been serving on the FIDF National Board for over three decades, including as Treasurer, and was the founder of the FIDF Long Island Chapter, where he served as the Long Island Dinner Chairman for more than 20 years.
“It was an extremely moving moment for me, just amazing -- the emotion was overwhelming,” said Kaplan. “The Israeli soldiers tremendously appreciate what we do for them and they show their appreciation. I feel very rooted in my heritage, so I am very proud of what I do for the soldiers and for Israel. It is the highlight of my life.”
Lt. Col. Ofra Younger Moses and 12 of her extended family members also attended the event. Younger Moses and Kaplan met on the “Bislach” army base during the original dedication of the sports center when she was a young officer. Since then, the two and their families have remained close.