The Baltimore chapter of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces raised a record amount of money at its annual gala on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Beth Tfiloh Congregation.
The organization’s seventh annual event raised more than $500,000 and drew about 450 people, both numbers higher than past galas.
“I think it was a very emotional evening,” said Gary Applebaum, who chaired the event with his wife, Julie. He thought that the big response was in part due to the recent violence in Israel.
“We know what to do. We come together, do what Jews always do and eat. We learned about all the things the FIDF can do, and people gave more money than they ever have,” he said. “People are so anxious now, and they so much want to help, so when you give them these solid programs that can help actual people and soldiers, they respond.”
Videos highlighted FIDF programs such as the IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which helps IDF soldiers attend college, and the Legacy program, which supports families of fallen soldiers.
The Applebaums are sponsoring their second soldier through IMPACT! The first one is now a maternity nurse. The second soldier they’re sponsoring is attending the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan.
As Applebaum was reading a letter from his soldier, Ligal Atias, she appeared on the stage, flown in for the event to the Applebaums’ surprise. She gave a short speech about how appreciative she was of the FIDF programs and stayed with the Applebaums for three days following the event.
“It’s about the helping soldiers through all these different programs,” Applebaum said. “These are Jewish kids, and we have to take care of them.”