IDF soldier makes an IMPACT! at FIDF event

Rachel Cohen, a former medic and unit commander in an IDF Air Force anti-missile unit, was the keynote speaker at the Ohio chapter of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Women’s Tea luncheon on May 18th at the Mayfield Sand Ridge Club in South Euclid. It was a fundraiser for the FIDF’s IMPACT! Program which provides college scholarships for Israel’s socio-economically disadvantaged combat soldiers.

Serving as a woman in an Israel Defense Forces unit of mostly men was empowering for Cohen who said: “For the first time in my life, I was in a position where I could contribute and had an opportunity to give to my country, which felt like a great honor, one that I have not taken for granted.

”Cohen, 27, said she had a difficult childhood while growing up in Kiryat Gat, a city in Israel’s southern district. Ever since she was a young girl, she wanted to become a social worker to help others achieve great things despite difficult circumstances, the way she was helped.

However, when she finished her military service, she realized that achieving the academic degree needed for that dream required a lot of resources and support which she did not have.  She had to work hard just to support herself and help her family, and adding the expenses of university seemed impossible. 

Cohen said she thought she would have to give up her dream until she learned of the IMPACT! program. “IMPACT! Is like a family for me … someone who makes it possible for me to pay for my education,” she said. “Knowing I could invest most of my energies in studying – this incredible support is what enabled me to get an education.”

“Today, I am about to graduate with a degree in social work. This degree opens new opportunities for me in my career, and I am so grateful for it."

Cohen still lives in Kiryat Gat with her husband, Sharon Perez.

“It was a very special, meaningful, successful and fabulous event,” said Marcy Rosenthal, who served as co-chair of the event with Lorin Gottlieb.

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