“No smith was to be found in all the land of Yisrael, for the Philistines were afraid that the Hebrews would make swords or spears.” I Samuel 13:19 (The Israel Bible™)
A celebrity-studded crowd of 1,200 gathered last Thursday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala, raising a record $60 million.
The event was hosted by Haim and Cheryl Saban with the theme of “Making a Difference: 70 Years of Heroes and Hope” and focused on the “heroes behind the heroes” – paramedics in the IDF. Present were many celebrities including A. C. Green; Ralph Sampson; Robert Horry; Josh Flag, Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia, Fran Drescher, Ziggy Marley, David Foster, Katharine McPhee, and David Draiman.
The evening began with a minute of silence in memory of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
The top donations announced at the event were $10 million from Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson and $10 million from Haim and Cheryl Saban.
Also present were Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, his wife, Joelle, and his daughter, Yael Eckstein, Senior Vice President of the IFCJ. Rabbi Eckstein, who has contributed more than $45 million to FIDF in the last few years, donated $5 million at the gala. “We are so deeply grateful to FIDF for the commendable support they provide the real heroes of Israel, the men and women on the front lines, and The Fellowship is proud to be their partner in this vital mission.”
Established in 1981, the FIDF has 15 chapters in the U.S., dedicated to the men and women serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), wounded veterans, and the families of fallen soldiers. The previous record for FIDF fundraising was set n the fall of 2014, when the FIDF Western Region raised more than $33 million in Beverly Hills, California.