$35 million raised by Friends of the IDF for Israeli troops
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$35 million raised by Friends of the IDF for Israeli troops

Group says donations from Sheldon Adelson, others to be distributed to combat veterans, 'lone soldiers'

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Over 1,200 people gather for a Friends of the IDF gala in New York on October 23, 2017. (Shahar Azran/FIDF)
Over 1,200 people gather for a Friends of the IDF gala in New York on October 23, 2017. (Shahar Azran/FIDF)

The Friends of the IDF organization raised more than $35 million as part of a gala event in New York on Monday night, which it has pledged to causes supporting Israeli soldiers, the group said.

Over 1,200 people attended the event at the Hilton Midtown hotel.

Former Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel delivered a keynote address, discussing recent developments in the Israeli military.

“I’ve flown 10 sorties in the F-35, and it is a game changer for the Israeli Air Force – not just because of its capabilities, but because it will elevate and strengthen the entire IDF,” Eshel told the gala.

From left, former Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF test pilot Danny Shapira and CEO of Friends of the IDF Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir pose for a picture at the group’s New York gala on October 23, 2017. (Shahar Azran/FIDF)

A current F-35 pilot and other IDF soldiers and officers were also in attendance at the event, which was named “Night of Heroes,” FIDF said in a statement. Many of the troops invited were so-called “lone soldiers,” with no family in Israel or without support from the relatives they did have in the country.

“At this ‘Night of Heroes,’ we salute the men and women soldiers who have taken part in the ongoing struggle of the State of Israel. Each and every one of them is another link in the chain of the IDF heroism and the Jewish state,” said Maj. Gen. (res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, CEO of the organization.

Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, also attended the event, alongside Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon and Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan.

Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson pose for a picture with IDF soldiers at a Friends of the IDF gala in New York on October 23, 2017. (Shahar Azran/FIDF)

The Adelsons, who have long supported FIDF and other Israeli charities, pledged $7 million to the group on Monday night.

The Or Lachayal organization, which also works to support Israeli soldiers, said it would donate $2 million.

The Masa Yisraeli group and Nefesh B’Nefesh, which helps Jews immigrate to Israel, each pledged $1 million, and the Iranian American Jewish Federation pledged $600,000, according to FIDF.

The organization said the money it raised will “provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in-need, support for lone soldiers throughout their service and upon release, crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.”

Editor’s note: The article initially misidentified Masa Yisraeli as Masa Israel Journey, which is a different organization. It has been corrected.

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