Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Long Island Chapter raised $1.4 million through its Ninth Annual IDF Appreciation Evening last week.
Over 600 supporters from across Long Island gathered at the Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success to honor the men and women of the IDF.
Gal Carmeli, the sister of Sgt. Sean “Nissim” Carmeli Z”L, a Lone Soldier from Texas who moved to Israel, enlisted into the IDF and was killed during the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this summer, recalled her brother at the FIDF event.
“To us, nothing will ever justify this situation,” she said. “No reason will ever be truly acceptable for separating Sean from us; but the pain that we constantly feel carries with it a beauty that I have never seen before. The goodness that has come forth from people we know and people we don’t, is what keeps us standing and keeps my parents from breaking.”
Sgt. Carmeli, 21, originally of South Padre Island, TX, was killed on July 20 in Shejaia, Gaza City, after his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank weapon. He was one of the 13 soldiers from the IDF’s Golani Brigade killed during the battle with Hamas. More than 40,000 people attended his funeral in Israel.
This week’s FIDF event also honored Howard Stecker, spiritual leader of the Conservative Temple Israel of Great Neck.
“Those of us here tonight can fulfill a promise to the soldiers of the IDF,” he said. “We can fulfill the promise to support those whose sacrifices preserve Israel as a Jewish democratic state. We can fulfill the promise to ensure that their service is a bit less painful and lonely than it has to be. We can fulfill a promise to support their educational and professional training so that their lives will be more productive and meaningful during and far beyond their time of service.”
Guests included FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship recipient, Captain Eliran Naim, Sergeant Tal, a Lone Soldier from Palahan Givati, and Staff Sergeant Elle, a female combat paramedic.
FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing and supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the heroic men and women of the IDF.
Today, FIDF has more than 120,000 loyal supporters, and 15 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama. FIDF proudly offers its support to the IDF soldiers and their families through a variety of unique and innovative programs.
For more information, visit fidf.org.