SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //
Avihai Vidoren, 29, a former IDF soldier who served in the military police unit Sachlav, graduated this month with his law degree from The College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion, Israel.
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His schooling was sponsored by Debby Bettsak, a member of the board of Atlanta’s Friends of the IDF (FIDF), and her husband Sam Bettsak and funded through the FIDF IMPACT! program, which provides former combat soldiers who have completed their service in the IDF but cannot afford the cost of higher education with scholarships to further their education and pursue the next chapter in their lives.
After serving their country and risking their lives on the frontlines, IMPACT! helps soldiers reach their fullest potential so they can pursue their goals and continue to give back to the community in Israel. As such, the program requires all scholarship recipients to complete 130 hours of community service for every year of they receive funds.
The Bettsaks have established a deep connection with Vidoren’s family; it’s a bond that transcends funding his education. They visit each other often, keep in touch weekly and have formed a long-lasting friendship.
“In America, we take for granted that we can easily go to college,” Debby Bettsak said. “Many soldiers who fight for the State of Israel and our ability to live comfortably in the Diaspora do not have the same luxury. To be able to help someone who has given three years to the IDF achieve their goals is incredibly meaningful and satisfying.”
After serving his country as a soldier, Vidoren wanted to make a difference in the world by becoming a lawyer. At the time, his financial circumstances made that goal impossible, but IMPACT! has changed that.
“I want to thank the Bettsaks and the FIDF for the opportunities they’ve given me. Now I have a law degree and I can support my family and myself with dignity,” Vidoren said. “IMPACT! gave me the opportunity to volunteer during my education and I will continue to give back to my community. Not only did I gain a degree, but I gained another family through Debby and Sam.
“I am incredibly blessed.”