Friends of the IDF gala raises $14 million

More than 1,400 FIDF supporters and dignitaries from around the globe gather to express support for the soldiers, citizens of Israel.

Friends of the IDF Gala 370 (photo credit: Alexi Rosenfeld)
Friends of the IDF Gala 370
(photo credit: Alexi Rosenfeld)
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 Plaza.
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 Khan.
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 soldiers.
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 Saban said.
“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 of Israel.”
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 FIDF supporters.
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.