Oct. 30, Chicago – Close to 1,000 prominent lay leaders and supporters of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) from the Chicago area raised $2 million last night at their annual event in support of wellbeing and educational programs for the men and women of the IDF.

The FIDF Central Region’s Annual Dinner at the Hilton Chicago honored soldiers of the Paratroopers Brigade, adopted by the FIDF Chapters of the Midwest Region (including Chicago) through the Adopt-A-Brigade Program. The program reinforces the connection between U.S. communities and specific IDF brigades, providing financial aid for soldiers and their families, supporting Lone Soldiers, sponsoring wellbeing activities, and granting scholarships to combat veterans. 

Special guests included Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL); former Republican Rep. Bob Dold, and the nominee for Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner.Among the main speakers was Moria Ashkenazy, whose husband, Sgt. Maj. Yair Ashkenazy Z"L, was an IDF reserve soldier and became the 33rd Israeli casualty of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this past summer. A municipal lawyer, he was able to attend university and earn his law degree thanks to the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program. Moria, a mother of three, is now a recipient of the FIDF LEGACY Program, which cares for the families of fallen soldiers.

Ari Ryan, grandson of Shifra Karkomi Z"L and Zev Karkomi Z"L, served as master of ceremonies. Zev Karkomi was an IDF captain and proud participant in Israel’s fight for independence as a member of the pre-state army, the Haganah. Zev and his wife Shifra were longtime supporters of FIDF and their grandson Ari is carrying on their legacy with his tremendous leadership in the organization.  
The FIDF gala also featured a dozen Israeli soldiers, many of whom participated in Operation Protective Edge. The remarkable IDF Musical Ensemble delivered an inspiring performance.
Other prominent attendees included FIDF National Chairman, Mrs. Nily Falic; FIDF National Executive Director, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; FIDF Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Alan E. Scholnick; FIDF National Director and CEO Emeritus, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; and FIDF Midwest Region Executive Director, Tamir Oppenheim.
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