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New England Friends of IDF to salute soldiers Dec. 5

Journal Correspondent

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces New England Executive Director Guy Ronen (left), FIDF National President Rabbi Peter Weintraub, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, FIDF National Board Member Scott Black, FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, with IDF soldiers at the Oct. 23 National NY Gala Dinner, which raised more than $35 million. Photo by Shahar Azran

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 – Supporters will gather at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Dec. 5 for the annual dinner hosted by the New England Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.

At the dinner, guests will not only savor a kosher meal, but also will be able to enjoy the company and hear the real-life stories of Israel’s brave defenders as they celebrate 70 years of heroes and hope.

“The event will kick off the celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary,” said Guy Ronen, executive director of New England Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), who added the dinner will highlight “historic and iconic events and saluting the soldiers who have protected [Israel] since its establishment.”

Among the special guests at this year’s event will be Amir Ofer, a hero from the famous Israeli rescue mission at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in 1976 that saved 102 hijacked Air France Jewish passengers who were held hostage by terrorists. Ofer, who was then a soldier in the IDF’s most elite special operations unit, was the first Israeli commando to enter the Entebbe Airport terminal, where he used a megaphone to tell the hostages, “Stay down! Stay down! We are Israeli soldiers!”

The event also will honor the IDF’s humanitarian efforts around the world, including “Operation Good Neighbor,” which assisted Syrians victimized by the civil war.

Adding to what Ronen predicts will be a “festive” theme will be a musical performance by the IDF Ensemble.

FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a nonprofit with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational, and social programs and facilities to support the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.

“Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 loyal supporters, and 20 chapters throughout the United States and Panama,” Ronen said.

In addition to helping soldiers, FIDF also supports their families, while they are on duty and after they return home. As in the United States, many Israeli soldiers come back far different than when they enlisted and need ongoing support.

“[Our] innovative programs … reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel,” said Ronen, who served as an IDF paratrooper and commando and who has now lived and worked in the Boston area for over 20 years.

While FIDF is over 35 years old, the New England office was opened in 2002 as part of what Ronen said is “a national effort to expand the organization’s outreach and increase its support for the soldiers.”

The local office also hosts parlor meetings, cultural events, and even trips to Israel. One particularly successful event recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and featured the soldiers from the iconic photograph, “Paratroopers at the Western Wall,” taken after Israel won the battle for Jerusalem.

While his office raises funds for many programs, the flagship effort of the New England office is the IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants full, four-year academic scholarships to IDF veterans, Ronan said.
“Supporters of the FIDF New England chapter have sponsored some 500 scholarships annually,” he said, “with more than 4,000 scholarships sponsored nationally every year.”

With the creation of the FIDF, Israel’s soldiers always have a place to go on holidays; soldiers with no immediate family enjoy familial support and care; wounded veterans can heal and continue their lives; and all soldiers in need and their families receive the assistance they deserve.

“The FIDF New England chapter continues to find new and innovative ways to gather the community together in support of the IDF soldiers,” Ronen said, noting his office has consistently helped raise from $3 million to $5 million every year, with about a third of that coming from the annual dinner.

Earlier this fall, FIDF raised a record $53.8 million at its annual Western Region Gala at the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“FIDF has been around for more than 36 years,” Ronen says, “and has supported soldiers in the battlefield during times of war and during relatively calmer times. We pride ourselves in being there for the soldiers wherever they are and making sure they are never alone.”

Call 617-559-3600 or visit fidf.org.

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