PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29 – Former Israeli Intelligence Chief Address Philadelphia FIDF Benefit. Some 1,000 community leaders gathered Monday for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Chapter Annual Gala at the Crystal Tea Room, raising nearly $450,000 to support well-being and educational programs for the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The evening, which has become one of the community’s largest events, featured a keynote address by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Yadlin, a 40-year IDF veteran and Israel’s former Chief of Defense Intelligence. Yadlin, who is now director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, discussed Israel’s dynamic situation amid turbulent changes in the Middle East.
“The Middle East is in turmoil. For all intents and purposes, Iraq, Syria and Yemen don’t exist anymore. Shiites are fighting Sunnis; nations are at war; and ISIS is trying to bring Sharia law to the entire Middle East,” said Yadlin. “Despite all this, Israel is better protected than ever: the IDF is the strongest military power in the region, there has been lasting peace with Egypt and Jordan, and the only existential threat to Israel is a potential one.”
Also speaking was wounded IDF veteran and Paralympic medalist Noam Gershony. Six years before winning the gold medal for wheelchair tennis at the 2012 London Paralympics, Gershony’s Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter crashed in Lebanon, killing his co-pilot and severely wounding the future champion.
“After my injury I wondered, why did I survive? I used to be able to fly an Apache and now I can barely walk up four steps. That’s when I decided never to let myself become depressed – no matter what the situation,” said Gershony. “Now I know that I’m a very lucky guy: I fell 6,000 feet to what should have been my death, and I rose again.”
Co-chairing the gala and the dinner were Dr. Zeff Lazinger and Shelly and Jerry Abramson. Presiding as the evening’s master of ceremonies was Rabbi Gregory Marx. Other distinguished guests included almost 60 Holocaust survivors; active-duty IDF Lone Soldiers from the Philadelphia area Lt. Eric, Cpl. Matthew, and Cpl. Aliza; former Sgt. Elad, who survived a gunshot wound to the head during a firefight in Gaza during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge; 1st Lt. Shlomo, who was awarded a Chief of General Staff Citation for his outstanding gallantry in battle in that conflict; FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipient Staff Sgt. (Res.) Shai; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Executive Director Tzvia Wexler.
“Were it not for the Israel Defense Forces, we would not have the State of Israel,” said Wexler. “While they look after Israel, it is our job to look after them.”
The funds raised at this event will go toward FIDF well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers.
About Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF):
FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing and supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the heroic men and women of the IDF. Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 loyal supporters, and 15 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama. FIDF proudly offers its support to IDF soldiers, families of fallen soldiers, and wounded veterans through a variety of unique and innovative programs. These opportunities reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel. For more information, please visit: www.fidf.org.