At a time when antisemitism is rampant, and support for Israel and the Israel Defense Forces is challenged, Friends of the IDF (FIDF)—an organization dedicated to the well-being of the soldiers of Israel—brought together members of the Baltimore community in a strong show of solidarity for these young men and women.
More than 500 local IDF supporters gathered on Sept. 18 for the Baltimore Chapter Gala, also to honor Anna and Daniel Klein, at the Owings Mills Synagogue.
The event began with a powerful video presentation featuring intense moments of IDF soldiers in action. It was followed by introductory remarks from FIDF Maryland chapter president Marty Taylor. “Eighteen-year-old IDF soldiers are not only securing the borders and manning the Iron Dome [missile-defense system] battery, but they are also serving to protect the Jewish people,” he said. “They are serving so that we can visit or live in the land of our ancestors—something that just 75 years ago was only a dream.”
Seventeen lone soldiers (those soldiers who have no family based in Israel) from Baltimore currently serve in the IDF. Gala attendees gave a standing ovation to one, Max, a combat soldier in the elite Golani Brigade originally from Pikesville, Md., who was in attendance.
Cpl. Natalie, another lone soldier from Baltimore, made a surprise entrance and greeted her parents with a hug. “Thanks to FIDF, many of us lone soldiers feel as though we have people looking after us, and only because of you I was able to fly home to visit my family today,” she said.
On a more solemn note, Baltimore Chapter director Reut Friedman acknowledged another family who lost their son who had been serving in the IDF. “In memory of their son and former IDF lone soldier, Joshua Rosen, the Rosen family is dedicating a special memorial in his honor.”
Attendees were then introduced to Sgt. 1st Class M., who serves in the IDF Special Forces Unit, Oketz, the Canine Unit that specializes in training dogs for designated tasks. He neutralizes threats against Israel with the help of his K9 companion, Mido. At the event, he spoke of one incident involving Palestinian Islamic Jihad where Mido captured a terrorist, and in doing so, thwarted a potential deadly attack. “So many people owe their lives to Mido without even knowing it,” he said.
The Azman family, supporters of the FIDF IMPACT! program, was honored with the Minyan Award. The IMPACT! Scholarship Program grants full four-year academic scholarships to former Israeli combat soldiers in need following the completion of their service.
Guests also heard from Maj. Bar, who joined the Israeli Air Force in the footsteps of his late father, a crew chief in the Israeli Air Force whose helicopter was shot down during the Second Lebanon War. Bar plays a critical role in ensuring all command-and-control systems are accessible to soldiers from air, land and sea.
Lastly, FIDF CEO Steve Weil spoke about honorees Daniel and Anna Klein, saying “we are immensely proud of the generosity that Daniel, Anna and the entire Baltimore community has provided to our brave IDF soldiers. Thank you for being true friends of the IDF.”