20 Lone Soldiers Make Aliyah, Fulfilling a Modern-Day Story of Hanukkah

Group of olim. Photo credit: Ben Kelmer, courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Group of olim.
Photo credit: Ben Kelmer, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Seventy-two new immigrants (olim) from North America landed in Israel on December 28, including 20 soon-to-be IDF (Israel Defense Forces) lone soldiers. Lone soldiers serve in the Israeli army without family support in Israel. [Read more…]

Philadelphia To Celebrate Israel’s 68th Independence Day

More than 450 leaders from the Philadelphia community, including U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey Jr., will gather at Philadelphia’s historic Congregation Mikveh Israel on Thursday, May 12 to celebrate “Yom Ha’atzmaut,” Israel’s Independence Day.

The celebration’s program will include uniformed American and Israeli soldiers, who will be honored during a ceremony, which will be followed by a festive Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration featuring live Israeli music, and authentic Israeli-style food and wine.

Also attending will be current and former Lone Soldiers – young men and women who decide to leave their countries, homes, and families in order to go to Israel and serve in the IDF – who will be honored for their service. Speaking at the ceremony will be the mother of an active-duty Lone Soldier from Philadelphia; Senator Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa.; and Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

Distinguished guests will include Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro; Israeli Navy Liaison to Philadelphia Lt. Cmdr. Eli Frenkin; First African Baptist Church Rev. Terrence D. Griffith; Friends of Israel of Argentina Vice President and FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Executive Director Emeritus William Sutter; FIDF National Board Member Israel Roizman; and Dr. Zeff Lazinger, an active FIDF supporter.

Comedy Night Purim Celebration

So far this year, FIDF’s generous supporters have adopted the “Gadsar Golani” Battalion, funded a gym for the Yiftach Brigade of the IDF Northern Gaza Division, refurbished a club in Efraim Regional Brigade, and continue to support IMPACT! students with academic scholarships.

FIDF Gala to Feature Former Israeli Head of Intelligence

500px-AmosYadlin— by Ryan Greiss

More than 800 leaders from the Jewish community will gather on Monday, Oct. 26 for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Chapter Annual Gala at the Crystal Tea Room to support the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The evening, which has become one of the local Jewish community’s largest events, will feature a keynote speech by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Yadlin, a 40-year IDF veteran and Israel’s former Chief of Defense Intelligence. Yadlin, who is now director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, will address the new wave of terror that is crashing down on Israel, where stabbing and shooting attacks are being reported hourly.

Also speaking will be wounded IDF veteran and Paralympic medalist Noam Gershony.  Six years before winning the gold medal for wheelchair tennis at the 2012 London Paralympics, Gershony’s Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter crashed in Lebanon, killing his co-pilot and severely wounding the future champion.

“After my injury I wondered, why did I survive? I used to be able to fly an Apache and now I can barely walk up four steps. That’s when I decided never to let myself become depressed — no matter what the situation,” said Gershony. “Now I know that I’m a very lucky guy: I fell 6,000 feet to what should have been my death, and I rose again.”

Co-chairing the gala and the dinner are Dr. Zeff Lazinger and Shelly and Jerry Abramson. Presiding as the evening’s master of ceremonies will be Rabbi Gregory Marx.

“It is especially important in these times that communities in the U.S. and around the world show support for Israel,” said FIDF donor Marcy Gringlas. “That support for Israel includes recognizing and honoring the brave women and men who protect Israel. It is our privilege to attend and to contribute to this event.”

Other distinguished guests will include active-duty IDF Lone Soldiers from the Philadelphia area 1st Lt. Eric and Cpl. Matthew, and FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Executive Director Tzvia Wexler.

“Were it not for the Israel Defense Forces, we would not have the State of Israel,” said Wexler. “While they look after Israel, it is our job to look after them.”

The evening will begin with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner at 6:45 p.m. and the program at 7:45 p.m. The funds raised at this event will go toward FIDF well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers.

Who Are The Lone Soldiers?

On September 2, the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces will be hosting an event in honor of Lone Soldiers and their parents. Lone Soldiers are volunteers who go to Israel alone to serve in the IDF. They are considered “lone soldiers” because they are in Israel without their families. Sarah Schorr is the mother of one such soldier. She will be a featured speaker that evening.


Eric Schorr was born in the United States. He attended Akiba Hebrew Academy (currently the Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy) and Columbia University. This “most pro-Israel” student needed to follow his heart. After receiving his college degree, he made aliya with Nefesh b’Nefesh and volunteered to serve in the IDF.

Like any mother watching from the sidelines, Sarah Schorr was especially comforted by the FIDF’s motto: “Their job is to look after Israel. Our job is to look after them.” She became involved with the FIDF in Philadelphia, vowing to do whatever she could to help from afar. You may meet her to find out how thanks to the FIDF, even though Eric’s family is here, he is never alone.

For more information about this event please refer to our calendar.

Knesset Speaker Lights Chanukah Candles with IDF Lone Soldiers

— by Rebecca Modell

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein participated in a special Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony for the sixth night of Hanukkah, together with several Cabinet Ministers and Members of Knesset. The ceremony was also attended by 60 Lone Soldiers, arranged by Nefesh B’Nefesh, Friends of the IDF (FIDF), Tzofim Garin Tzabar, and Ha’aguda Lema’an Hachayal (The Association for the Welfare of Soldiers).

Photo Credit: Peter Halmagyi.

More after the jump.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said:

I’m happy and thrilled to be here to continue the tradition of lighting Chanukah candles in the Knesset. The lighting of the candles symbolizes the freedom of the people of Israel, and is especially relevant here in the Knesset because we have our own parliament, and despite all the disagreements that take place in it, we have the freedom to govern ourselves.

Five Lone Soldiers joined Edelstein as he lit the Chanukah candles. The soldiers, who are originally from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, France, Japan, and Uruguay made Aliyah to Israel to join the IDF with the support of Nefesh B’Nefesh and the FIDF.

Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, said at the ceremony,

We are honored to have the Knesset Speaker light the Chanukah candles with these Lone Soldiers, in this symbolic salute to all those who left their families and homes in order to make Aliyah and serve the Jewish State through the Nefesh B’Nefesh/FIDF Lone Soldiers program.

Philadelphia FIDF Gala to Honor Holocaust Survivors

Left to right: Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, executive director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern N.J. region, Tzvia Wexler, and Ambassador Ron Prosor in last year’s national FIDF gala, New York.

Local Holocaust survivors and their families will be honored at this year’s Annual Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) Gala.

The gala will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, November 18, 2013 at Vie, 600 North Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased at the gala’s website. Holocaust survivors who wish to take part may contact FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern N.J. executive director, Tzvia Wexler.

The theme of this year’s Gala is “From Holocaust to Independence,” and it will celebrate Israel’s 65 years of existence by saluting the survivors and remembering the struggles they overcame to build new lives, providing a future for the next generation.  

Former chief of the IDF general staff, Lt. General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, will deliver an exclusive Keynote address.

More after the jump.
The FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors with the mission of providing and supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the men and women of the IDF. Today, FIDF has more than 120,000 supporters, and 17 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama.

Prior to being appointed as the IDF’s chief of staff in 2007, Lt. General Ashkenazi has had an illustrious military career, that included:

  • Commander of Golani Brigade,
  • commander of liaison unit to Lebanon,
  • operations officer of Northern Command,
  • head of Israeli Northern Command, and
  • director general of Israeli Ministry of Defense.

In 2008, he was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on behalf of the President of the U.S. for enhancing U.S.-Israel relations.  

FIDF Delegation Arrives in Israel for Yom Ha’aztmaut‏

— by Jen Glantz

Over 100 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States and Panama were accompanied by over 50 IDF officers as they flew to Israel via an Israeli Air Force plane this past Friday, to continue the memorable journey by commemorating Yom Ha’Zikaron and celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut in Israel today.

The group will also spend time on several elite IDF bases with soldiers, meet with top-level government and IDF officials and Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Speaker of the Knesset, and a special reception with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, at his official residence.

Holocaust survivor Joseph Gringlas celebrating on the shoulders of an IDF soldier
Delegation participants celebrating Yom Ha’aztmaut in Israel. Photos by Shahar Azran, courtesy of FIDF