FIDF Miami Solidarity Gala
FIDF Miami Solidarity GalaCarlos Chattah

More than 800 supporters from Florida and across the United States joined the former Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. and former lone soldier Michael Oren on Thursday, March 2, for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Miami Solidarity Gala at The Diplomat Hotel, where they raised over $2 million to support education and well-being services for the brave men and women of the IDF.

The gala also honored FIDF Greater Miami Chapter Board Member Tzippy Faye Holand with the FIDF Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman and his wife, Lisa Falic Groisman, who are both longtime FIDF supporters, co-chaired the event.

“Our annual solidarity gala always proves to be successful and tonight was no different, thanks to the incredible support of the Florida community,” said FIDF Miami President Oscar Feldenkreis.

“It was an honor to have Michael Oren share his words of wisdom with us. A former lone soldier himself, he understands just how crucial FIDF’s programs are to those serving in the IDF without any immediate family in Israel,” he added.

Attending the gala was a delegation of IDF soldiers, including three lone soldiers (soldiers who make Aliyah to Israel without immediate family in order to serve in the IDF) who are originally from the Miami area: 2nd Lt. Sara, an intelligence officer with background in combat search and rescue; Sgt. Jonathan, who serves in the elite Nahal combat infantry brigade; and Cpl. Rachel, a shooting instructor.

The event also featured a video about Sgt. Ohad Benyichai, an Israeli commando who suffered a severe head wound during the 2014 battle in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood during Operation Protective Edge. After the video ended, Benyichai and his parents surprised the audience by appearing to speak about their ordeal.

“It was such a special evening witnessing the lone soldiers from Florida and their families interact with our supporters. Nights like this help the community forge even stronger bonds with the IDF soldiers,” said FIDF Florida Executive Director Dina Ben-Ari.

“It is our duty to help support the brave men and women who chose to leave their homes, families, and friends in order to enlist in the IDF.”

Other distinguished guests included Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attache to the U.S. and Canada Maj. Gen. Michael Edelstein; FIDF National Chairman Emeritus Nily Falic; Feldenkreis; Faye Holand; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and Ben-Ari.

FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a not-for-profit organization with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational, and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.

Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 loyal supporters, and 15 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama. FIDF proudly supports IDF soldiers, families of fallen soldiers, and wounded veterans through a variety of innovative programs that reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel.