THE FRIENDS OF THE ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (FIDF) GREATER MIAMI REGION, LED BY FLORIDA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DINA BEN ARI, HAS PROVEN ITSELF AS ONE OF THE ORGANIZATION’S MOST ACTIVE COMMUNITIES, WHICH IS NO SMALL FEAT CONSIDERING THAT FIDF HAS OVER 120,000 LOYAL SUPPORTERS ACROSS 15 CHAPTERS IN THE U.S. AND PANAMA.
By Leora Horowitz
“Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them.” This is the motto of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), an organization that cares for the education and wellbeing of Israel’s soldiers, and it is a message that has resonated within the Miami community.
The commitment towards FIDF’s mission has been growing since the establishment of this 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization in 1981. It was founded by a group of Holocaust survivors who recognized the courage of the young Israeli men and women who join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at age 18 to uphold the difficult task of defending the State of Israel. 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.
FIDF Greater Miami supporters have embraced Israel’s soldiers, and their contributions are truly exemplary. In the past year alone, the community granted 161 academic scholarships to IDF combat veterans through the IMPACT! program, which provides soldiers that cannot afford the cost of higher education with the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. It also supported over 50 IDF Lone Soldiers through a program that helps those who have chosen to leave their countries of origin, families, and friends, to join the IDF and serve the State of Israel.
But the region’s support of IDF soldiers has gone far beyond individual needs. In 2013, the Greater Miami Region adopted the IDF Golani Brigade through the Adopt a Brigade Program. As part of the program, the region provides for all of the brigade’s wellbeing needs, including financial aid for soldiers in-need, Lone Soldiers support, and educational activities. They have already provided a week of rest and recuperation for 528 combat soldiers through this initiative.
Further, the FIDF Greater Miami Region has left its mark with multiple construction projects for the benefit of soldiers throughout Israel. In November 2013, the $1.7 million Isaac and Nieves Olemberg and Family Cultural, Educational and Sports Center was completed on the Ein Yahav IDF base. The Center includes a canteen, club, media room, library, gym, outdoor pergola and will serve the soldiers of the 80th Division. This impressive project joins another significant endeavor sponsored by the community, the $3.2 million Braman Medical Center inaugurated in July 2010 on the Reim IDF Base in the Gaza Division.
FIDF is committed to making the lives of the brave men and women of the IDF a little bit easier
“Since the day that I was drafted in 1998 with a mission to reestablish the FIDF Greater Miami Chapter, in order to provide for the wellbeing of the IDF soldiers, I have watched it like a proud parent grow with remarkable achievements, that greatly enhance and impact the life of the brave IDF soldiers and the Israeli society,” says Nily Falic, FIDF National Chairman. “In fact, the State of Israel and the IDF are synonymous. One cannot exist without the other. We at FIDF have a mission with a vision which is to strengthen the IDF soldiers and the Israeli society and to nurture a strong and meaningful bond between our communities and the State of Israel.”
In 2014, the FIDF Greater Miami Region will continue to increase its efforts on behalf of Israel’s soldiers. Its Gala Dinner annually demonstrates an impressive show of support for the men and women who stand on the frontlines, and its Young Leadership Division’s Annual Poker and Casino Night presents an opportunity for Miami’s many young professionals to show their love and appreciation for their Israeli peers. Through the unwavering proactive spirit of the community, there is no question that the FIDF Greater Miami Region will remain a bright star on the FIDF map, and continue looking after those who protect the State of Israel.
“FIDF is committed to making the lives of the brave men and women of the IDF a little bit easier,” says Monica Sasson, FIDF Greater Miami President. “We are here to provide them with a few of the extras. They know they can always count on us just as we know that Israel and Jews around the world are safe thanks to the protection of the IDF soldiers. We must stand beside them as they risk their lives on a daily basis in order to protect the State of Israel. IDF commanders appreciate our support and the soldiers feel the love and dedication that comes from FIDF.”