— 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.