Renowned inspirational speaker Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis warns that once again, "the dark days" are returning and Jews are surrounded by those who want to destroy us -- "and they don't hide it."
Speaking at the recent Long Island New York Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Dinner, the Holocaust survivor and educator Jungreis said it’s very easy to forget what it was like when the Jews were singled out for torture, murder, and slaughter.
"The whole world was ready to consume us, and today… once again, we are surrounded on every side by those who want to destroy us - and they don't hide it, she noted.
Jungreis bemoaned the fact that Iranian President Ahmadinejad was invited to Columbia University campus by students: “Do you understand this? We are seeing it even with our own eyes. The world has become dark again.”
Ahmadinejad has been quoted numerous times as threatening to “wipe Israel off the map.”
The Long Island FIDF this year honored Holocaust survivors “to do something different – to hear what happened in Europe in the Holocaust and juxtapose that to why it’s important to have a strong IDF, so that the Holocaust will never happen again,“ explained Dinner Committee Executive Fred Endzweig, himself from Germany.
The event, held at the Great Neck Country Club, attracted Jews of all stripes and types. "Black hat" religious Jews and those with knit yarmulkas joined the mostly traditional crowd which itself was an even mix of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
Nily Falic, National Chairman of the FIDF and the driving force behind it, explained in simple words what the magic of the organization is in attracting such a variety of Jews: “For us, FIDF is actually synonymous with the State of Israel. There is no State of Israel without the IDF, and there is no IDF without the State of Israel. This is of primary importance in all of our lives.”
The funds raised by FIDF go towards several projects to help soldiers. “When a combat soldier finishes his military service, he may turn to the FIDF to qualify for an ‘Impact Scholarship,’ which pays his way through college studies,” says Abbey Nickinson, Projects Manager for the organization’s Tri-State region. “The Long Island chapter of FIDF underwrites 55 such soldiers,” she added.
FIDF also equips bases with fitness and recreation equipment. In addition, “Lone soldiers” -- those who immigrate and serve without family in Israel -- are eligible for assistance in renting and furnishing an apartment.
Despite threats to exterminate Israel, Rebbetzin Jungreis closed her remarks saying that in these days, things are different: “Thank G-d, now we have an Israeli army, and we have a Father in the heavens above.”
Eleven-year-old Natalie Ben Josef, beaming a huge smile at the opportunity to speak into a journalist’s microphone, summed up the evening explaining why she attended the event: “To support the soldiers of Israel.”