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

Philly Delegation Participates in Holocaust Remembrance Journey


Photos by Shahar Azran, courtesy of FIDF

— by Jen Glantz

Over 100 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States and Panama, including a delegation from Philadelphia, were accompanied by over 50 IDF officers as they toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland as part of the ten-day FIDF “From Holocaust to Independence” journey to Poland and Israel.

The delegation visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which was the largest of the Nazi’s Concentration Camps. The delegation also listened to the personal story of a Holocaust survivor from Israel, Asher Aud, in Auschwitz 2-Birkenau, where mass exterminations of Jews took place throughout the war.

More after the jump.
Earlier, The delegation toured the town of Tarnów-Zbylitowska Góra, which was home to thousands of Jews at the onset of World War II, who ultimately faced unspeakable suffering at the hands of the Nazis, and the village of Zbylitowska Góra as well as Buczyna Forest, where many Jews, including over 800 children, were executed and buried by the Nazis.

The delegation also visited the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Krakow, an important district in Jewish history and learned about its significant Jewish community that thrived from the 14th Century until the Holocaust. The delegation toured the Krakow Jewish Ghetto, where Jews were forced to live during the Nazi occupation, and saw the remnants of the Krakow Ghetto Wall. Upon arriving to Poland, the delegation enjoyed a celebratory dinner with the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Gantz.


The delegation, including FIDF supporter Herbert London and his wife Vicki, near the synagogue

The official military ceremony at the Children’s Grave at Zbylitowska Góra

A group of FIDF delegation participants and IDF soldiers, with FIDF National President, Julian Josephson and FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, at the remnants of the Krakow Ghetto Wall

Left to right: FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Gantz, and FIDF National President, Julian Josephson in Krakow, Poland

$27 Million Raised at FIDF National Gala Dinner

— by Jen Glantz

$27 million was raised Tuesday night at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National NY Gala Dinner where over 1,400 prominent business and philanthropic leaders from across the country gathered at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to demonstrate their love and support for the soldiers of Israel. FIDF Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark was the chair of the Gala, and author and nationally syndicated radio host Dr. Monica Crowley served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

A special delegation from the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region participated in the Gala event. Among the delegation members was the Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler.

More after the jump.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National President, Julian Josephson; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; Former IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi; Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; Israeli-American luxury fashion designer, Elie Tahari; President of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine and his wife, Mindy; American real estate tycoon and media proprietor, Mort Zuckerman; and American sex therapist, media personality, and author, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.


Left to right: Former IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler, Ambassador Ron Prosor

One of the evening’s outstanding guests was Cpt. Ziv Shilon, a 25-year-old commander of the Givati Brigade, who just a couple of months ago was badly injured in a Hamas attack near the Gaza security fence, when an explosive device went off. Cpt. Shilon was also joined at the Gala by more than 30 soldiers and officers from various IDF units as well as soldiers from the United States Armed Forces, including Maj. Justin Constantine, a wounded U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Notable among the donations were $5 million pledged by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; $1 million pledged by the Genesis Philanthropy Group; $130,000 pledged by Elie Tahari; $100,000 pledged by Mort Zuckerman; $1.08 million pledged by FIDF National Board Member, Harry Gross; and $1.3 million pledged by National Board Member and Young Leadership Chairman Tony Felzen on behalf of FIDF NY Young Leadership. The Major League Baseball and the Yankee Foundation purchased dinner sponsorships.

The evening culminated with the heartfelt words shared by bereaved mother, Nelly Barak, who tragically lost her son, Hanan Barak Z”L, who was a tank commander, in 2006. Hanan and another soldier were killed when a group of terrorists fired an RPG at his tank and then abducted his soldier, Gilad Shalit, that was released last October after five years of captivity by Hamas in Gaza.

The funds raised during the evening will provide services like academic scholarships to former combat soldiers, financial support for soldiers in-need and Lone Soldiers from around the world, weeks of rest and recreation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities. The evening was an opportunity to pay tribute to the State of Israel and to send a message of love and support to the brave men and women in uniform.

Holocaust Survivor from US starts fresh in Israel at 87-years-old


Oscar Phillips arriving in Israel on Monday after making Aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

— by Jen Glantz

Oscar Phillips, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor from Deerfield Beach, Florida, made his lifelong dream come true on Monday, November 12, when he finally made Aliyah to Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

Phillips, who was 14-years-old when the Germans invaded Poland, was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 where he then worked in sub-camps (Buna, Gleiwitz and Oranienburg) until being marched in retreat to Flossenburg, where he was liberated by the Allied forces. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 where he met his late wife and began a career as a dental technician. After his wife passed away a year ago, Phillips decided he would make Aliyah to Israel, where she is buried. Phillips has three sons and 10 grandchildren; 6 in Israel and 4 in the United States.

More after the jump.
“Nefesh B’Nefesh is thrilled to be able to assist Oscar in making a full-circle journey back to Israel”, said Yael Katsman, Director of Communications at Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We will help him do everything that it takes to make his absorption process successful and help him live many more years of happiness in Israel reunited with his children and family.”

About NBN: Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 33,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel. www.nbn.org.il.

Veterans Day: Americans Visit Israel To Thank IDF Soldiers


FIDF supporters from the Ohio Region on the FIDF National Mission to Israel, standing next to one of the airplanes that participated in the attack of the Iraqi nuclear base in the 80’s. Photo credit Einav Rimon

TEL AVIV- November 11, 2012 – Over 50 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States embarked on a unique seven-day journey to Israel as part of the FIDF National Mission to Israel to show their appreciation and support for Israel’s soldiers. The delegation arrived in Tel Aviv last Sunday, November 4th, 2012.

The FIDF mission, which was primarily aimed at acquainting participants with the IDF and its brave men and women in uniform, provided participants with the opportunity to spend time with IDF soldiers on various military bases across Israel. The group met with soldiers from several elite IDF bases, including the Machva Alon Educational base and the famous Nevatim Air Force base, where they met F-16 pilots. Mission participants were also given a special tour of the Gaza Border Region.

The group met with several top-level government and IDF officials, including the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, at his official Briefing Room, and Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs, and the IDF’s 17th Chief of the General Staff.

More after the jump.


FIDF supporters at an IDF Air Force Base. Photo credit: Einav Rimon.

“The Friends of the IDF delegation which has embarked on this important journey to Israel signifies the deeply rooted connection between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the brave soldiers who serve to protect it,”

said FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon.

This extraordinary mission to Israel culminated with a special FIDF ceremony, saluting the IDF commanders, at the Palmachim Air Force base. Hundreds of soldiers, FIDF supporters, and members of the IDF general staff, including IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, came together for an evening of celebration of and gratitude for Israel’s soldiers and the hard work they endure to protect the Jewish homeland and its people around the world.

Among the mission participants were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; and FIDF National President, Julian Josephson.

FIDF Mission participants with IDF soldiers on a base in the South of Israel.