Over 600 leaders from the Greater Baltimore area gathered Tuesday, Sept. 17, for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Baltimore Annual Gala at Beth Tfiloh Congregation to salute the men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), raising more than $500,000 to support the well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers.
“The FIDF gala was a wonderful opportunity for our supporters to learn about FIDF’s well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers and to meet, thank and hear firsthand from the brave young men and women whose lives were changed through our programs and services,” said Reut Friedman, FIDF Maryland director of development.
“As a second generation of a survivor of the Shoah, I am particular sensitive to the fact that there is only one, singular nation in the world that is both the historic and modern home to the Jewish people,” said Josh Mauer, an FIDF Baltimore board member and past FIDF Baltimore president. “In a world that continuously demonstrates man’s inhumanity to man, the Israel Defense Forces protect the sovereignty of the state of Israel and the rights of Jews all over the globe. The Friends of the IDF and community affairs like Tuesday’s gala, provide us the opportunity to recognize and reinforce the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women of the IDF.”
Community leaders and FIDF supporters Jack and Ellen Kahan Zager co-chaired the gala, which featured active duty IDF soldiers and Baltimore-area former Lone Soldiers — those who served in the IDF without any immediate family in Israel — including FIDF Baltimore Board Members Joe Rombro, Scott Blumberg and Alex Simone. Several local Holocaust survivors were honored at the event: Herta Baitch, Edith Cord, Isak Danon, Felicia Graber, Howard Kaidanow and Esther Kaidanow, Golda Kalib, Vera Kestenberg, Halina Silber, Bertha Schwarz and Morris Rosen.
Other prominent guests included officials of the Israel Defense Attaché in Washington; FIDF National Board Member Bill Fox, who co-founded the FIDF Baltimore Chapter; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Mid-Atlantic Region Executive Director Ari Dallas. Comedian and former IDF Lone Soldier Joel Chassnoff emceed the event.
FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C) (3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide. Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 loyal supporters, and 24 chapters throughout the United States and Panama. FIDF proudly supports IDF soldiers, families of fallen soldiers and wounded veterans through a variety of innovative programs that reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF and the state of Israel.
The FIDF Baltimore Chapter adopted the IDF Home Front Command’s Kedem Battalion, a search-and-rescue unit that conducts emergency operations in Israel and abroad. FIDF’s Adopt-A-Unit Program supports soldiers in the adopted units by providing financial assistance to soldiers in-need, caring for Lone Soldiers and funding rest and recuperation weeks for combat soldiers.