OVERLAND PARK, Kan., June 20
– More than 200 Kansas City supporters of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) gathered last Thursday, June 15, at Kehilath Israel Synagogue to hear firsthand from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and pay tribute to the brave men and women who protect Israel and Jews around the world.

At the special event, Staff Sgt. (Res.) Izzy Ezagui, an American who moved to Israel and became a decorated squad commander in the IDF, spoke about his motivation behind returning to the battlefield after losing an arm in combat.

“After I woke up in the hospital, everything was difficult. I didn’t feel held back because of what happened, but I thought for sure I would never see combat again,” said Ezagui, who then taught himself to load, fire, and reload his weapon one-handed – and passed all the required tests to re-enter the IDF as a combat soldier. He now lives in New York and returns to Israel for reserve duty.

Guests at the event learned about FIDF’s well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers, including FIDF’s Lone Soldiers Program, which supports and cares for “Lone Soldiers” – those who enlist without immediate family in Israel. There are currently three Lone Soldiers from Kansas and 17 from Missouri serving in the IDF. Families of local Lone Soldiers were in attendance.

“This first tribute to Israel’s soldiers in the Kansas City area was an excellent opportunity for the community to learn how they can support the well-being of IDF soldiers through FIDF,” said Darice Bailer, who chaired the event. “The organization provides educational, cultural, recreational, and social services programs for Israeli soldiers, as well as FIDF IMPACT! Scholarships, state-of-the-art prosthetics, rehabilitative and recreational activities for wounded soldiers, vacations, summer camps and holiday gifts for the bereaved families of IDF, and flights home for soldiers who volunteer from abroad.”

Also speaking was Staff Sgt. (Res.) Keren, an IDF veteran whose education is being sponsored through the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants college scholarships to Israeli combat veterans of modest means.

All funds raised at the event will go toward FIDF’s well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers.

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