Giving Gratidude To IDF Soldiers

Giving Gratidude To IDF Soldiers


FIDF Southeast Executive Director, Seth Baron, Southeast Chairman, Garry Sobel, and Fred Shaftman. Photo Credit: Peter Halmagyi
FIDF Southeast Executive Director, Seth Baron, Southeast Chairman, Garry Sobel, and Fred Shaftman. Photo Credit: Peter Halmagyi

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Southeast Region supporters embarked on a unique seven-day journey to Israel as part of the FIDF National Leadership Mission to Israel to show their appreciation and support for Israel’s soldiers. The mission took place from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8. Delegates from the community included FIDF Southeast Chairman, Garry Sobel, Southeast Board Member, Debby Bettsak, FIDF supporter Fred Shaftman, and Southeast Executive Director, Seth Baron.

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The special Leadership Mission, led by National Chairman, Nily Falic, National President, Julian Josephson, and National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, brought national and local community leaders from FIDF’s chapters across the U.S. together to meet with the brave men and women of the IDF.

The group met with soldiers and commanders on various military bases across Israel, including the Gaza Division’s headquarters of Re’im, the Intelligence Corps training base, the Regional Division 36 on the Golan Heights, and the Tel-Nof Air Force base, where participants learned from F-15 pilots about the advanced technologies used in Israeli Air Force (IAF) operations. The group also participated in briefings by officers of both the Southern Command and Northern Command of the IDF.

Mission participants had the opportunity to meet with several top-level government and IDF officials, including the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, the Head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Chief of the IDF Education Corps, Brig. Gen. Avner Paz Tzuk, the former Minister of Internal Security and former Head of Shabak (Shin Bet), the Internal General Security Service of Israel, Avi Dicter, and former Israeli Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Avi Melamed.

This extraordinary journey in Israel culminated with a special FIDF ceremony at the Smolarz Auditorium in Tel Aviv University. Hundreds of soldiers and commanders, FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipients, FIDF supporters, and members of the IDF general staff came together for an evening of celebration and gratitude for Israel’s soldiers and the hard work they endure to protect the Jewish homeland and its people around the world.

“The FIDF mission gave us a unique opportunity to see Israel through the eyes of its leaders and the brave young men and women of the IDF who protect our homeland and afford us the ability as Jews to walk proudly and safely throughout the world. What I will remember most is that while I was thanking each of them throughout the trip, they would stop me and say, ‘no, we want to thank you for showing us that we are not alone.’ At Tel Aviv University we gave out far more than the 1,000 college scholarships to former combat soldiers—we gave out 1,000 futures. I left Israel with a renewed sense of the great work we are doing to provide for the care and well-being of our soldiers.  Next year, we hope to bring at least 20 more from the Southeast Region to experience this incredibly unique mission,” said FIDF Southeast Chairman, Garry Sobel.

“The Friends of the IDF delegation which has embarked on this important journey to Israel signifies the deeply rooted connection between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the brave soldiers who serve to protect it,” said FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon.


FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing and supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the heroic men and women of the IDF. Today, FIDF has more than 120,000 loyal supporters, and 15 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama. FIDF proudly offers its support to the IDF soldiers and their families through a variety of unique and innovative programs. These opportunities reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel.


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