For the past 71 years, the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been risking their lives to protect Israel and Jews around the world. Every day, we are reminded of what it has taken, for Jewish people living in and outside of Israel, to guarantee the survival of the state of Israel. We must never forget the role soldiers of the IDF have played in defending our beloved Jewish homeland, and what it was like for Jews before they had their own country, before the heroes of the IDF were there to protect them.
Our organization, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), works tirelessly to care for the IDF soldiers, and offer them well-being, educational and recreational programs and services, in an effort to ease the burden placed on their young shoulders and provide some respite and relief.
There are 6,116 Lone Soldiers from 70 countries serving in the IDF today, including about 810 from the United States and 40 right here from Atlanta! Some 55 percent of Lone Soldiers serve in combat or combat-support roles. FIDF cares for all Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF through the Lone Soldiers Program, which supports them financially, socially, and emotionally during and after their challenging military service. FIDF also sponsors flights for Lone Soldiers to visit their families and friends in their countries of origin. FIDF’s Lone Soldiers Program is one of its flagship initiatives – and a source of pride for the Atlanta community.
Besides caring for the well-being of Israel’s Lone Soldiers, FIDF initiates and supports many other educational and well-being programs for IDF soldiers, such as the LEGACY program, which this summer brought 47 children and siblings of fallen IDF soldiers to the United States for summer camps, and the IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants college scholarships to Israeli combat veterans of modest means.
We in Atlanta and the Southeast Region proudly support these courageous young men and women. During the 2018-19 academic year, the Atlanta community sponsored 99 FIDF IMPACT! Scholarships – worth $16,000 apiece – for IDF veterans to pursue their academic dreams, and our community is sponsoring more than 105 scholarships for the upcoming school year.
Six years ago, as part of the FIDF Adopt-A-Brigade Program, the FIDF Southeast Region adopted the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Collection Corps. The program allows supporters to go beyond their donations and to get more involved, providing financial aid for IDF soldiers in need and their families, supporting Lone Soldiers, and funding general well-being activities and weeks of rest and recuperation for soldiers of the adopted brigade.
On behalf of FIDF, I wish you a good and sweet new year – L’Shana Tovah u’ Metukah. For more information or to support FIDF, please visit http://fidf.org/Southeast or call (678) 250-9030.