The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces is an organization devoted to supporting IDF members. It takes on many projects; chief among them, particularly in northern New Jersey, is to nurture and provide physical and emotional succor to lone soldiers.
Right now, as the IDF is responding to terror from Gaza by air and ground attacks, and as it is suffering through the deaths of some of its soldiers, the FIDF is doing whatever it can to help. It is working to match the needs of IDF fighters with the local Jewish community’s strong outpouring of desire to do something ““ anything ““ to help.
“We are in constant contact with the IDF, and what they want us to do is raise money,” Howard Gases said. Mr. Gases is FIDF’s New Jersey director. What they want is the unglamorous necessities that everyone needs ““ toiletry kits, snack packages, underwear. “We are specific,” he said. “We tell people that we ask the IDF what they want, and this is what they tell us.”
The organization also is collecting money for other programs, including Spirit, a rest and relaxation opportunity for “soldiers who do not have the resources, for when they come back from their service,” he said.
Lone soldiers ““ IDF recruits who do not have family in Israel, or whose families do not have the financial, physical, or psychological resources to support them ““ are an important FIDF constituency. Because northern New Jersey sends so many lone soldiers to Israel, it is known within the FIDF as the “Lone Soldier State,” Mr. Gases said. There are about 4,000 lone soldiers in the IDF; many although not all of them come from here.
To contribute to the FIDF’s campaign, go to its website, www.fidf.org, and click on the Donate button at the top right.