The San Diego Chapter of the Friends of Israel Defense Forces held its 4th Annual Gala Appreciation Dinner honoring the Israeli Navy at the Hilton San Diego Bay front. In attendance were over 650 guests including many prominent lay leaders, U.S. and Israeli military officers from all branches of the community. 

Our keynote speaker, Admiral (Ret.) Amihai "Ami" Ayalon said that his most emotional mission  that he took part in was when 3 Jewish children from Syria  with the help of some Mossad agents where smuggled by a fisherman onto their boat.  

"It was stormy weather, it was raining.  Once they came onto the boat, they kissed the deck and they cried."     

Haim Elfasy, a former IMPACT! scholarship recipient, and the first to give a scholarship, shared his gratitude to the IMPACT! Program.  Haim was surprised when his IMPACT! student gave a video greeting and thanked Haim for being such a positive influence and example.   

The Lone Soldier Program was also a featured in the program.  We were pleased to have  local San Diego Lone Soldiers join us.  

The event also featured Tal Shabat, a wounded soldier from Flotilla 13. In 2006, during an operation in Gaza, a Palestinian sniper shot Tal in the head, leaving him mortally wounded. The injury impeded his speaking ability, memory,  calculation, writing, reading, and playing music, but with an intense regimen of therapy he is now able to walk, speak, read, write and he returned to the guitar, which he even played alongside the IDF Chief Cantor, Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, in Poland. 

Throughout the evening program, the Navy Music Ensemble entertained the guests. Thanks to the generosity of the San Diego community and Friends of the IDF, almost $700,000 was raised in support of the numerous programs of the FIDF.