On November 9th, for the ninth consecutive year, media mogul Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, chaired the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Western Regional Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The star-studded evening was sold out to a crowd of 1,200 who enjoyed a kosher dinner followed by presentations and live music performance.
FIDF receives Saban’s largest charitable donation for Israel. “For the past nine years I have watched this gala grow into the preeminent charity event it is today, and I am truly humbled by the funds raised, which are a testament to the importance of the FIDF organization and its mission. The overwhelming support from the Los Angeles community continues to amaze me,” Saban announced.
$34.5 million was raised to support well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers. One of the programs is The Spiritual Needs Program, which, “uplifts the spirits of IDF soldiers through their service, honing in on values, faith, Jewish identity and love of Israel. The program does this through a series of activities focused on Jewish traditions and celebration that warm the soldier’s hearts and strengthens their spirits.”
The Hollywood Reporter noted the largest donators included, “$8.4 million from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Serge Azria, CEO of Vernon-based fashion powerhouse Dutch LLC also contributed $5 million. Maurice and Paul Marciano, the founders of Guess, gave $2.5 million, while sports agent Casey Wasserman and wife Laura, gave $2.1 million.”
The evening included moving testimonies by lone soldiers and by the parents of fallen soldiers. “I was deeply privileged to participate in the FIDF Western Region gala this year, and to hear inspiring stories of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to serve Israel and the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “It was humbling to see so many outstanding figures of different backgrounds coming together in a powerful show of support for those who defend the Jewish state.” Other Rabbis at the events included, Rabbi Topp, Rabbi Sufrin and Rabbi Wolpe.
In a statement, Wasserman said, “We’re excited and proud to take part in this noteworthy event, to join in celebrating the courageous soldiers of Israel. The mission of FIDF — providing well-being and educational programs to IDF soldiers — is invaluable to us as a society that cares for its younger generation and recognizes the soldiers’ sacrifices.”