Over $14 million was raised at the annual Israel Defense Forces Western Region
Gala in Los Angeles on Thursday.
More than 1,400 FIDF supporters and
dignitaries from the US and Israel gathered to express their support for the
soldiers and citizens of Israel.
FIDF National Board member and major
supporter Haim Saban, and his wife, Cheryl, chaired, for the sixth consecutive
year, the star-studded gala that took place at the Hyatt Regency Century
The evening began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner
and a program, which was emceed by actor Jason Alexander and featured
performances by Canadian musician David Foster and Friends as well as a
promising young tenor from Puerto Rico, Fernando Varela, who has been proclaimed
as the next “Pavarotti.”
Surprise musical performances were also given by
American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and 10-time Grammy winner Chaka
Stevie Wonder, who was slated to perform at the event, backed out
last week after an online campaign entreating him to cancel his performance in
protest of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.
A press release
issued by the FIDF national office last week reported: “Representatives of the
performer cited a recommendation from the United Nations to withdraw his
participation given Wonder’s involvement with the organization.” The release
also included a statement from Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon, FIDF’s
national director and CEO, that said, “We regret the fact that Stevie Wonder has
decided to cancel his performance at an important community event of the FIDF,
an American organization supporting the educational, cultural and well-being
needs of Israel’s soldiers, their families, and the families of fallen
The participants at the gala included Gershon, Oracle CEO Larry
Ellison; Guess cofounders Maurice and Paul Marciano; Israeli military attaché to
the US and Canada Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Ayash; FIDF National Chairman Nily Falic;
FIDF National President Julian Josephson; Hollywood film producer Meir Tepper
and his wife, Katya; Israeli actresses Noa Tishby and Moran Atias; and Swedish
actor Dolph Lundgren and American actor Robert Forster.
“The annual FIDF
Western Region Gala has become an important tradition and a must-attend event in
the social calendar of the Jewish community in town,” American- Israeli tycoon
“The event connects this warm community with IDF soldiers,
and it is our opportunity to say thank you to the soldiers who defend the State
The event included an emotional speech by Miriam Peretz, who
lost two sons in battle, a statement of support from a US Marines colonel who
donated $500 for the well-being of Israel’s soldiers, and a rendition of
“Jerusalem of Gold” by a well-respected Evangelical pastor. The gala was also
attended by 12 active-duty IDF soldiers who arrived from Israel to meet with
The money raised at this year’s gala will go toward
FIDF’s well-being and educational programs for the soldiers and the Negev
Wellbeing and Educational Centers.
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