More than 450 community members attended the November 21 Friends of the Israel Defense Forces New Jersey chapter’s annual tribute dinner, which raised nearly $1 million to support well-being and educational programs for soldiers in Israel.
The gala at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel included a special salute to New Jersey natives serving as Lone Soldiers — people who go to Israel to serve in the IDF but do not have any family in the country.
The evening featured a keynote speech by journalist and foe of Islamic extremism Brigitte Gabriel. “I was born and raised in what used to be the Paris of the Middle East, but as the Muslim population grew, the balance of power changed,” she said. “Radical Islamists bombed my home and buried me under the rubble as they shouted, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ As I lay in the hospital, I asked my father why they did this to us, and he told me it was because we were Christians. In our heads, Israel was the enemy, but, under fire, we learned who our real friends were.
“Not only does the Israel Defense Forces serve and protect its people, but the IDF also remains the most moral army in the world — a shining light in the darkest corner of the world — even as it fights on the front lines against the vicious scourge of terrorism.”
Also attending and participating were IDF soldiers, including active duty and former Lone Soldiers Sgt. Ari of West Orange; Sgt. Toren of Livingston; Cpl. Keren of Englewood; Cpl. Eliana of Teaneck; and former Sgt. Gideon Drucker, a Woodcliff Lake native who served as a Lone Soldier in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade.
FIDF’s New Jersey chapter — often referred to as the “Lone Soldier” chapter — was co-founded by FIDF national board member Sammy Bar-Or, who moved to Israel from Iran when he was 13, and was a Lone Soldier in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade.
Other guests included FIDF National Chairman Arthur Stark; FIDF national board member Melinda Lowell Paltrow; Jodi and Saul Scherl of Englewood, who chair the newly formed FIDF New Jersey chapter board; past FIDF national board member Josef “Chick” Paradis, who is a veteran of the IDF; Lance Drucker of Woodcliff Lake, who was the dinner’s master of ceremonies; FIDF national director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; FIDF tri-state executive director Galit Brichta; and FIDF New Jersey director Howard Gases.
“Each year our annual dinner grows, proving the tremendous impact these events have on connecting our supporters with the brave soldiers who benefit from FIDF programs,” Mr. Gases said. “We were honored to host Ms. Gabriel, whose story and unwavering support for Israel’s soldiers is truly inspiring.”