The emotions that flooded Murray Singerman of Pikesville were difficult to put into words.
His daughter Hilla, 21 and son Yaniv, 23, both of whom left their native Maryland to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, were flown back to the states by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. After months apart, the two surprised their parents Sunday night at the FIDF Baltimore gala, which raised more than $400,000.
“I’m most proud that my kids loved the Jewish people enough to make the kind of sacrifices that they’re making,” Singerman said. “It’s not a choice — it’s what you do when you’re Jewish.”
Singerman was one of approximately 550 locals who honored the men and women of the Israel Defense Forces at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. Hosted by the nonprofit organization FIDF, the annual gala tugged at the heartstrings, leaving most attendees teary-eyed.
These young soldiers are heroes, said Gary Applebaum, who has served as FIDF president of the Baltimore region since January 2016.
“They know that without them, they don’t have a country,” he said. “When you see them, hug them and hear them tell their stories, you get a glimpse of their mission and what they deal with at such a young age. These are very special individuals.”
In addition to community leaders and lone soldiers, the three-hour event also welcomed IDF combat veterans whose college educations were sponsored by the IMPACT! Scholarship Program. The FIDF initiative supporting disadvantaged socio-economic students. More than 100 scholarships have been sponsored by the Baltimore community.
Mount Washington resident Sheldon Dobres, who co-chaired the event with his wife Sandy, said Israeli soldiers go well beyond the expectations of their mandatory service.
“They do whatever is necessary to protect the homeland of Israel,” Dobres said.