THEIR JOB IS TO LOOK AFTER ISRAEL. OURS IS TO LOOK AFTER THEM.
The strength of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which has been guarding the State of Israel since it declared independence in 1948, derives from the selfless determination and great capabilities of the young men and women who form it.
At the age of 18, these courageous young people join the IDF, promising to uphold the difficult tasks of defending the State of Israel and guaranteeing the safety of those who reside within its borders. The responsibility of the Israeli government is to prepare and train these soldiers and provide them with the necessary tools. Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) has assumed the responsibility of providing these soldiers with love and support in an effort to ease the burden they carry on behalf of the Jewish community worldwide.
In 1981, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces was created as a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing and supporting social, educational, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland. It also offers these services to the families of fallen soldiers.
FIDF operates through fifteen branches around the United States and Latin America, located close to large Jewish communities. Thanks to an expanding donor base and exceptional generosity, FIDF has experienced unprecedented growth over the last few years.
FIDF proudly offers its support to soldiers and their families through a variety of unique and innovative programs. Providing financial aid to soldiers in need, granting academic scholarships to former combat soldiers, helping bereaved families, and sponsoring fun days for combat battalions are just some of its endeavors. Thanks to a low overhead, it ensures the needs of the soldiers are provided in the best possible way.
Through FIDF missions to Israel, donors are able to visit bases, meet with soldiers, and tour the country. These opportunities reinforce the significant bond between the Jewish community in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel.
The FIDF Dignity Program provides soldiers in-need with special grants, food allowances, and holiday-gift vouchers. Today, nearly 19,000 soldiers are in financial distress, including Lone Soldiers, the non-Israeli-born IDF soldiers without family in Israel. The IDF provides these soldiers with food and shelter; however, when they come home for a weekend or vacation, they find themselves in an extremely difficult economic situation. Friends of the IDF offers millions of dollars every year for those soldiers and their families.
The FIDF Impact! Program grants full four-year scholarships to Israeli soldiers who have completed their military service. The personal nature of the program enables the sponsors to directly see the “impact” of their donations on soldiers’ lives. To be eligible, soldiers must come from a combat unit and a disadvantaged socioeconomic background that would prevent them from pursuing higher education. The scholarship recipients are required to annually complete 130 hours of community service during the full term of their scholarships. The efforts of the students are aimed at helping their communities and improving their environment.
The FIDF Legacy Program helps the families of fallen soldiers through an array of recreational activities such as “Fun Days” in Israel, vacations, and summer camps in the United States. FIDF hopes to alleviate some of the grief that widows, orphans, and other family members suffer when losing a loved-one. Some of the opportunities available include enabling Legacy Soldiers to visit the US, bringing bereaved families together through leisure and entertainment, and helping children from bereaved families to celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the US.
The FIDF Spirit Program focuses on the mental wellbeing of combat soldiers who endure intensive and life-threatening combat service. The objective of this program is to allow soldiers to have fun and enjoy carefree vacations at the FIDF Rest and Recreation facilities. Through the SPIRIT Program, soldiers can release daily tension and be reenergized.
The FIDF Adopt a Batallion Program establishes a strong and powerful bond between donors and IDF battalions. Through this program, the donor can support one of more than 130 combat battalions that operate daily to protect Israel’s borders. It sponsors events such as “Fun and Sports Days,” ceremonies marking important milestones in the life of the battalion, celebrations of Jewish holidays, and other recreational needs. These experiences significantly boost morale and team spirit.
The FIDF Spiritual needs Program is aimed at fulfilling important spiritual needs of soldiers wherever they are. Under the supervision of the IDF Rabbinate, the Israeli army upholds Jewish religious laws, dietary practices, marriage and burial services, prayers, and the celebration of holidays. Friends of the IDF supports these Jewish practices by providing the soldiers with religious materials, such as prayer kits, prayer books, synagogue equipment, sukkahs, Chanukah menorahs, and Torah scrolls. By giving soldiers the space and means needed to carry out religious practices, FIDF hopes to strengthen their Jewish identity and spirit.
The FIDF Flights for Lone Soldiers Program funds the airfare for lone IDF combat soldiers, enabling them to travel back to their country of origin. The soldiers are then free to spend time with their loved-ones and share experiences from IDF and Israeli life. Giving them the opportunity to fly and visit their families is an invaluable contribution that helps these committed soldiers to reconnect to their roots and reinforce their connection with Israel.
The FIDF Young Soldier Program supports young students who
study in a high-school or boarding-school affiliated with the IDF throughout their studies. It helps those students coming from an underprivileged socioeconomic background by sponsoring one-year and four-year tuitions. In addition to guaranteeing excellent education, the program is also aimed at promoting leadership and social responsibility.
The FIDF Capital Projects Campaign helps build, refurbish, and maintain recreation centers, sports centers, cultural and educational centers, synagogues, memorial rooms, auditoriums, and “soldiers’ homes” for soldiers throughout Israel. By providing these facilities, FIDF creates an environment in which soldiers can relax, stay in physical shape, read a book, watch a movie, commemorate and celebrate special days, and enjoy the company of their fellow combatants. As this Capital Projects Campaign grows, more soldiers gain access to the benefits of these centers. In addition, FIDF also supplies IDF units with mobile well-equipped gyms, air-conditioned clubs, and synagogues.