More than 400 members of the New Jersey Jewish community will gather at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe on October 7 at 5 p.m. for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces New Jersey Chapter’s annual tribute dinner. They will be there to support the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, including New Jersey natives serving as lone soldiers — people who go to Israel without immediate family in order to serve in the IDF.
The dinner, which has become one of the community’s premier events, will celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday as FIDF and its supporters salute seven decades of heroes and hope. A special ceremony will honor current and former IDF soldiers and pay tribute to New Jersey’s lone soldiers.
This year’s dinner, co-chaired by FIDF New Jersey chapter board members Annette Stern and Ellen Sokoloff, will feature Sgt. Mikey, who lived in New Jersey before he moved to Long Island. He is a lone soldier in the Pioneer Combatant Youth Reconnaissance Company and takes part in the IDF’s Operation Good Neighbor, which provides humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.
It also will feature 2nd Lt. Sarah, who sustained serious injuries in a terrorist attack and later became the head of a branch in the research division of the intelligence corps, and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Ami Morag and his son, Lt. Col. Idan, who are the only father-son pair in IDF history to receive the prestigious Medal of Honor.
“This evening gives the New Jersey community a chance to meet and personally thank the brave soldiers who risk everything to defend Israel — and Jews worldwide,” Howard Gases, the FIDF’s New Jersey director, said. “This year we’re celebrating and saluting Israel for 70 years of heroes and hope, and we invite all of those who served in the IDF to join us as we honor you.”
FIDF’s New Jersey Chapter — often called 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 became a lone soldier in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade.
“When I served, there was no real understanding of what it meant to be a lone soldier,” Mr. Bar-Or said. “Life is very difficult for IDF soldiers without immediate family in Israel. Supporting the well-being of lone soldiers is a personal calling — and a very important part of FIDF’s mission.”
Racheli Avruch, originally from Queens, a FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship recipient, also will be at the dinner. Her scholarship donors, Shelley and Chick Paradis of Livingston, will reunite with her there. The IMPACT! program grants four-year academic scholarships to combat and combat support soldiers from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.
Other distinguished guests include Arthur Stark, FIDF chairman emeritus; Nancy Epstein; Donna Calcaterra; Melinda Lowell Paltrow, FIDF national board member; Lloyd Sokoloff, FIDF national board member and FIDF New Jersey board member; Lance Drucker, emcee; Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, FIDF national director and CEO; Galit Brichta, FIDF tri-state executive director; and Rachel Gordon, of West Orange, a former IDF Lone Soldier who recently received the President’s Award for outstanding service during a Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony at the home of President Rivlin in Israel.
The evening will begin with a cocktail reception; dinner and the program follow at 6:30. The funds raised there will go toward well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers. For more information or to support FIDF, go to fidf.org/njgala, email Monica.Steinberg@FIDF.org, or call (646) 274-9646..