Rick Bloom, local FIDF
treasurer and emcee;
Ambassador Danny Ayalon;
IDF paratrooper Josh
Newman; his grandmother,
Ann Newman, local FIDF
Show Of Support
chairman emeritus; Staff
Sgt. (Res.) Alon Ben
Shalom, Impact! scholarship
recipient; and Maj. Gen.
(Res) Yitzhak Gershon, FIDF
FIDF annual dinner aids soldiers
Special to the Jewish News
he Friends of the Israel Defense
Forces (FIDF) Michigan Chapter
hosted its 17th Annual Gala
Dinner in early October honoring the soldiers
of Israel for their dedication and commitment
to the State of Israel and world Jewry.
The evening, held at Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, provided an opportunity for the com-
munity to pay tribute to the young men and
women who serve on Israel's Defense Forces.
More than 700 attended the event, which
also helped raise funds for IDF soldiers' wel-
fare and college education after their service.
The dinner was emceed by Rick Bloom,
local chapter treasurer, and co-chaired by
Shari and Alon Kaufman and Lisa and Gary
Billy Newman of West Bloomfield wel-
comed his son Josh to the stage. Josh said he
wanted to do something meaningful, bigger
than himself, to honor his ancestors who
were persecuted, and to follow in his grand-
parents' footsteps. His grandmother Ann
Newman served in the Jewish underground
and actively took part in the establishment
of the State of Israel. His grandfather Rudy
came to Israel in 1948 as a volunteer pilot
and served in the War of Independence as a
member of Machal, the country's first lone
soldiers unit. A lone soldier refers to those
from other countries who make aliyah to
serve in the IDF.
Natalie Newman, Josh's mother, said, "I
am such a proud parent. Josh went to Hillel
Day School and the Frankel Jewish Academy;
many of his former teachers were at the gala
and were gushing with pride over him."
Josh also spoke of what it means to be a
lone soldier. There are about 800 new ones
each year from every corner of the world.
Josh and many like him are being helped by
The FIDF also reaches former Israeli sol-
diers in need.
Kathy Lowenthal, who sponsors an
Impact! scholarship student with her chil-
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dren, introduced Ben-Shalom, an Impact!
"I have planted many trees in Israel over
the years; none has ever spoken to me, let
alone said 'Thank You. The Impact! Program
is different because it plants seeds of a differ-
ent kind. It plants seeds of friendship, con-
necting all of us, one soldier at a time."
The scholarship program helps IDF vet-
erans realize their dreams of higher educa-
tion. After his parents' divorce, Ben-Shalom
of Netanya needed economic assistance.
He says the scholarship was the biggest
opportunity of his life. He studied at the
Technion Institute of Technology, worked as
a waiter, volunteered with the Israeli Cancer
Association and was a mentor, all while his
tuition, dorm and food costs were covered by
the Impact! Program.
He currently works for a technology group
and plays saxophone in a band called United
Souls Band. He treated the audience by play-
ing John Lennon' "Imagine" on stage. He
plans to support Impact! students himself in
the near future.
Keynote speaker, former Israeli ambassa-
dor to the United States Daniel Ayalon, intro-
duced by Ron Ferber, spoke of how service
in the IDF is an equalizer for Israelis and a
catalyst for the nations economic, agricul-
tural and technological growth. He empha-
sized how strong the bond between the U.S.
and Israel is and noted that Israel is the one
military ally that does not request troop
assistance: "Israel defends itself by itself'
On Israel's right to defend itself and the
peace process, he spoke of the Palestinian
need to counter offer and not just reply to
Israeli offers with a "no:' He reminded guests
that since 1993, Israel has given up 100
percent of Gaza and 40 percent of the West
Bank, with offers to divide Jerusalem that
have been denied.
The event raised more than $250,000 for
the nonprofit's mission to initiate and sup-
port educational, social, cultural and recre-
ational programs and facilities for the young
men and women soldiers of Israel who
defend the Jewish homeland and the families
of fallen soldiers.