Going Virtual: Supporters like Chicago’s Thomas Kane Ensure FIDF Gala Success Despite COVID-19

A health worker takes a swab sample from a man to test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Borough Park area of Brooklyn, New York, U.S

Over the years, the annual fundraising event, A Night of Heroes, organized by Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), each September has grown from a fledgling fundraising event into a star-studded gala that has raised millions of dollars to provide for the wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), veterans and family members.

Under normal circumstances, the Annual Dinner attracts over 800 people.

This year, however, the event went virtual.

Due to COVID-19, A Night of Heroes was held virtually on September 13 at 7pm EST from coast to coast.

Speaking to the virtual event is Thomas Kane, who advocates for the Illinois chapter of Friends of the IDF (FIDF).

“What has been so gratifying has been the positive way the community across the country and abroad has responded to our fundraiser this year.  Even though the event had to go virtual, the message and mission is the same,” says Thomas Kane.

That mission is one which promises to care for those who protect Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.  Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) is a non-political, non-military organization.  Where the Israeli government is responsible for training IDF soldiers and providing them with the necessary tools for their service, the FIDF is committed to providing these soldiers with love, support, and care to ease the burden they carry on behalf of the Jewish community worldwide. 

“The 2020 fundraiser was an important opportunity to recognize the heroes who help defend the Jewish Homeland,” comments Kane.  “Then there are the other heroes, the families who sacrifice so much so that their loved one can serve.” 

A Night of Heroes gala is one of the largest and most prestigious in the American Jewish philanthropic community. Every year, the event brings together thousands of FIDF supporters, representing all chapters from across the United States, to express their appreciation for the brave young soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.

“We were honored to be a part of the virtual event this year, and seeing its success was extremely rewarding,” says Thomas Kane.

Under normal circumstances and in prior years, FIDF hosts a wide range of events to raise money, including Bourbon & BBQ, Women’s Brigade Annual Benefit, Yom Ha’atzmaut and the Paratroopers Delegation community celebrations, as well as missions to Israel.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 ‘A Night of Heroes’ Gala was held on September 25th in New York City where more than 1,200 business leaders and philanthropists from across the country saluted Israel’s brave soldiers and veterans.  The event raised a record breaking $37 million to support well-being and educational programs for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers.

The 2019 ‘A Night of Heroes,’ took place at the New York Hilton Midtown and featured active-duty IDF soldiers and other distinguished guests such as Israel’s Minister for Social Equality MK Gila Gamliel; Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Amb. Danny Danon; Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan; Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attache to the United States Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox; and many other prominent figures of the Jewish Community. 

FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir was one of the major participants who commented on the event.

“The brave men and women who wear the IDF uniform passionately protect not only the Jewish homeland, but people all over the world,” he said. “More than simply a military defending the state of Israel and Jews worldwide, the IDF is an extraordinary force of humanity.”

If you are interested in becoming a part of FIDF or would like to donate, please visit https://www.fidf.org/donate.  Your donation may provide relief to those who have been hit hardest by COVID-19 through the supply of essential food and basic needs, support and education for troubled youth, or ease the financial pressure of a soldier whose family can no longer afford to offer support due to layoffs and financial instability.

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