Women, soldiers and vino were the focus of a women’s speaker reception and wine tasting Oct. 15 sponsored by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
“We’re excited to have a room full of women who care passionately about Israel and support the work of FIDF,” said Tracie Bernstein, FIDF Southeast director of development.
FIDF provides for the needs of soldiers, including financial relief, ongoing education, scholarships, construction of exercise and cultural centers, and support of lone soldiers, fallen and wounded and their families.
Karen Shulman, who hosted the event, welcomed the crowd. “I’m honored to host this group of women who are supporting the well-being of IDF soldiers. As mothers, sending a child off to serve really resonates with us.”
The evening started in shades of pink when Samara Kaufman Waldman, sommelier of Cinagro Wine Experience who previously served in the IDF, featured seven varieties of rosé. From sparkling wine to pinot noir, from California to Israel, Waldman explained that white grapes can make red wine and that a Tasmanian can taste like an expensive bottle of French Champagne.
In attendance were Seth Baron, executive director of the FIDF Southeast region, and Garry Sobel, national FIDF board member. Sobel said that 31 lone soldiers from Atlanta are currently in the IDF. Leigh Baron Olstein and Sara Meyers were recognized for their sons who are now serving. Both boys were students of Atlanta’s Jewish day schools.
Three speakers headlined the program. The first was IDF Navy Lt. Noa Laks, who came from an Israeli Navy family. Laks shared stories about her service with an all-male team in which, as a safety measure, she was required to hide her ponytail when confronting combatants. She spoke of going out to sea on underwater missions in freezing conditions. She sadly told of the death of her boyfriend at 18.
On a brighter note, she enjoys using her base’s spin room built by the FIDF.
Keynote Inbal Arieli, CEO of Synthesis and senior adviser to Start-Up Nation Central, was named among the 100 most influential people in Israeli hi-tech, and one of the top 100 women hi-tech speakers in the world.
Arieli served in the elite IDF Unit 8200, the equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Using lessons of her service, Arieli consults with major corporations such as The Coca-Cola Co. on how businesses can develop leadership that is agile, creative and effective. She identified IDF policies of seeking “disruptive” ideas, empowering soldiers to make self-informed decisions, encouraging team communication and complex problem-solving as keys to success.
The evening’s final speaker was Brig. Gen. Gila Klifi-Amir. She will lead an FIDF women’s mission to Israel in March 2019. Klifi-Amir served in the IDF for 30 years, remains in the IDF Reserves, and continues to advise the Israeli government on women’s engagement in the IDF. She noted that while 33 percent of the IDF is female, 51 percent of the officers are women. Klifi-Amir shared a video of female IDF heroes who confronted/eradicated terrorists and one who lost her life protecting others.
For more information about FIDF, contact Tracie Bernstein, 678-250-9027.