The funds raised at the event went toward FIDF’s well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers, wounded veterans, and the families of fallen soldiers.
The evening featured active-duty IDF and American soldiers saluting one another as the FIDF celebrated 70 years of Israeli heroes, and honors Lone Soldiers — those who immigrate to Israel without any immediate family in order to serve in the IDF — from the Philadelphia area.
Speaking at the event were soldiers who personally benefited from the FIDF’s IMPACT! premiere scholarship program. One such soldier was Staff Sgt. Moshe, a soldier from the Givati Brigades’ 424th “Shaked” Infantry Battalion.
Moshe who comes from Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev area explained that “The Impact! scholarship program is the FIDF’s program which grants four-year academic scholarships to combat and combat support soldiers from families who can’t afford college, enabling them to achieve their dreams of going to college and getting a higher education.”
Moshe, who wants to become a lawyer to help others from low socioeconomic backgrounds, said that the program also provides funds to cover his living expenses while he studies and gives him the unique benefit of direct contact with their sponsors in the United States.
Scholarship recipients complete 130 hours of community service per year. Their contributions to their communities, both through service and their attainment of a higher education degree, help to advance Israel’s economy.
“We are honored to host these incredible and brave soldiers at our annual dinner,” said FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Executive Director Tzvia Wexler. “Our supporters from the Philadelphia community get a firsthand look at the unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States, as they hear inspiring stories from Lone Soldiers who left their native countries to protect the Jewish homeland. We are so proud to celebrate 70 years of heroes and hope, thanks to the men and women who serve in the IDF and protect us every day.”
Other distinguished guests included Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York Israel Nitzan; Dr. Zeff Lazinger; Steve Stadlin; FIDF National Vice President Robert Cohen; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.
Towards the end of the event, a local Philadelphia man who is serving with the IDF surprised his parents Amir and Stacey Goldman of Merion Station. Their son, 21-year-old Matan Goldman was supposed to be conferenced in via SKYPE video, however instead of appearing on the screen, Matan was waiting backstage to surprise his parents live!
Matan explained that he was given special permission from his commanding officer in the IDF to leave his base for 48 hours to attend the event.
When asked why he chose to serve in the IDF as a lone soldier, over the comforts of living in suburban Philadelphia, Matan said, “I definitely feel more of a purpose in being in the Army and really defending the Jewish people.”