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At the 2015 Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ (FIDF) annual Western Region Gala, which was held on Thursday, November 5, 2015, over $32.5 million was raised in support of Israel’s heroic soldiers. More than 1,200 FIDF supporters from the United States and Israel united at the sold-out event, which was held at the renowned Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in order to celebrate and honor the brave young men and women who protect and serve the State of Israel. FIDF National Board Member and major supporter, Haim Saban, and his wife, Cheryl, served as chairs of the Gala.
Those in attendance of the star-studded event included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and leading names in entertainment, fashion and high-tech, including Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas, Larry David, Liev Schreiber, Jason Segal and Gene Simmons, who entertained the audience with an impromptu performance of his iconic “Rock and Roll All Night.” FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir was present at the event, along with other FIDF national and local leadership. Other notable participants included Gabrielle Giffords, former Arizona congresswoman and member of the US House of Representatives.
Notable donations made at the event included $8.4 million from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, $5 million from Serge Azria, CEO of Vernon-based fashion powerhouse Dutch LLC, and his wife Florence, $5 million from Cheryl and Haim Saban, $2.5 from brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano of Guess Jeans, and $2.1 million from Casey Wasserman, founder and CEO of Wasserman, a sport marketing and talent agency, and his wife Laura. “For the past nine years, I have watched this gala grow into the preeminent charity event it is today, and I am truly humbled by the funds raised at the Western Region Gala, which is a testament to the importance of the FIDF organization and its mission. The overwhelming support from the Los Angeles community continues to amaze me,” said Haim Saban.
The evening began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a program featuring stellar performances by David Foster and The Beach Boys. Monica Crowley, bestselling author, political analyst and long-time supporter of FIDF, returned as emcee.
The evening’s program honored the courageous men and women of the Israel Defense Forces and highlighted the importance of the unbreakable alliance between the United States and Israel. The program featured the heroic stories of four Lone Soldiers of the IDF, young men and women from across the world who volunteer to serve in the Israeli military. The program also featured an important presentation by a U.S. Veteran who demonstrated how Israeli medical technology is impacting the lives of Americans through the United States’ strong relationship with Israel. The program concluded with an incredibly moving testimony from a mother who lost her son in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
“We’re excited and proud to take part in this noteworthy event, to join in celebrating the courageous soldiers of Israel. The mission of FIDF – providing wellbeing and educational programs to IDF soldiers – is invaluable to us as a society that cares for its younger generation and recognizes the soldiers’ sacrifices,” said Casey and Laura Wasserman.
The generous donations that were collected at the Gala support educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the heroic members of the IDF.
Gene Simmons, who personally donated in support of the soldiers of Israel, explained, “what is happening here tonight, is we are saving lives and supporting the American and Israeli way of life and liberty.”