NEW YORK, More than 1,300 prominent business and philanthropic leaders from across the country will come together to salute the brave soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National New York Gala Dinner on March 15 at the landmark Waldorf Astoria New York. The evening will feature a keynote address by Israel’s minister of defense and former vice prime minister, Moshe Yaalon, and will honor business magnates, philanthropists and steadfast supporters of Israel, Dr. Miriam and her husband Sheldon G. Adelson.
A 37-year veteran of the IDF, Yaalon, who goes by the nickname “Bogie,” began his service in the Paratroopers Brigade, later becoming a commander in Israel’s most elite special operations unit, Sayeret Matkal. Yaalon rose through the ranks, holding high-level command positions such as chief of Israel’s military intelligence, head officer in charge of Israel’s Central Command, and, finally, chief of the general staff of the IDF.
“This evening will pay tribute to the brave men and women in uniform who protect the State of Israel and Jews worldwide. We are honored to have Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe ‘Bogie’ Yaalon, as well as Jewish philanthropic leaders Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, joining our community to welcome these soldiers,” said FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir. “We are all thankful for their sacrifices and look forward to showing them that while their job is to look after Israel, our job is to look after them.”
The honorees of the 2016 FIDF National New York Gala Dinner are Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, who will be recognized with the inaugural FIDF “Defenders of Israel” award for their lifelong philanthropy and support for a variety of causes in the U.S. and Israel. Israeli-born Dr. Miriam Adelson is an accomplished medical doctor and a former IDF soldier who served with distinction. Mr. Adelson is an entrepreneur and integrated-resorts developer who is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest business leaders of his generation and currently employs more than 50,000 people worldwide. They are partners in varied and global business and philanthropic activities.
The Adelsons have joined a unique pantheon of the foremost names in Jewish philanthropy in modern Jewish history. They are the single largest funders of Birthright and Yad Vashem and have consecrated their success to the noble aim of always fighting for and protecting Israel and the Jewish people.
FIDF’s flagship national event is chaired by FIDF National President Rabbi Peter Weintraub. A Reform rabbi and businessman, he has been an avid FIDF supporter for 15 years and has sponsored academic scholarships for more than 70 IDF combat veterans through FIDF’s IMPACT! Scholarship Program.
“The incredible and courageous young men and women of the IDF put their lives on the line every day to defend the Jewish homeland and Jews around the world – myself included,” said Weintraub. “Every one of us feels safer knowing that the State of Israel is guarded by these heroes. It is our moral obligation to stand with them and show our support.”
Special guests will be 30 IDF soldiers from various military units, including Sergeants Sydney and Solomon and Staff Sgt. Ariel, who are all originally from N.Y. and enlisted in the IDF as Lone Soldiers – those who serve without immediate family in Israel; a former commando from Israel’s most elite special operations unit who received an FIDF IMPACT! scholarship and studies medicine in Israel; Israel Border Police Sgt. A, a Lone Soldier from France who recently saved fellow soldiers from a stabbing attack at her checkpoint; and soldiers who fought and were wounded in Operation Protective Edge.
Honored guests will include Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, and Consul General of Israel in New York Ido Aharoni.
Distinguished guests will include Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman, who will preside as the evening’s master of ceremonies; FIDF National Chairman Arthur Stark; FIDF National President Rabbi Peter Weintraub; FIDF National Chairmen Emeritus Nily Falic, Larry J. Hochberg, and Marvin Josephson; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta.
The evening will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 7 p.m.