On Thursday evening, December 6th, over 1400 supporters and dignitaries from the United States and Israel gathered to express their support for the intrepid members of the Israel Defense Forces at the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
Over $14 million was raised at the star-studded event, and it was announced that these funds will be allocated to the wellbeing and educational centers for IDF members, and specifically to the Negev Wellbeing and Educational Center. Proudly serving as chairpersons of this event for the sixth consecutive year were Haim and Cheryl Saban. Known as magnanimous philanthropists to a large number of Israel-related causes and charities, Haim Saban is a major supporter of the FIDF and is an active member of its national board.
“The annual FIDF Western region gala has become an important tradition and a must-attend event in the social calendar of the Jewish community in town,” said Mr. Saban. “The event connects this warm community with IDF soldiers, and it is our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the soldiers who defend the State of Israel.”
Along with the Sabans, the 2012 gala was co-chaired by prominent members of the entertainment community including Avi Arad of Arad Productions, Inc.; Avi Lerner of Nulmage; Mel Woods, President of MGA Entertainment; Ben Silverman, former Chairman of NBC; Roger Ailes of the Fox News Channel; Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures; and Danny Dimbort of Red Granite Pictures.
Beginning the evening with a lovely cocktail reception, the extraordinary dinner and program that followed was emceed by Jason Alexander (star of the hit television show, “Seinfeld”) and featured performances by David Foster and Friends, as well as by Fernando Varela, one of the world’s most promising young tenors from Puerto Rico, who has been proclaimed as the “next Pavarotti.”
Guests were treated to surprise musical performances by “American Idol’ winner Ruben Studdard and 10-time Grammy winner, Chaka Khan. In addition, among those participating in the gala were Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, Maurice and Paul Marciano: co-founders of the Guess clothing company, Major General Yaakov Ayash; Israel’s defense and Armed Forces Attache to the U.S. and Canada, Nily Falic; FIDF national chairman, Julian Josephson, FIDF national president, Major General (Res.) Yitzchak (Jerry) Gershon; FIDF national director, Meir Tepper and his wife Katya; Hollywood film producers, Noa Tishby and Moran Atlas; Israeli actresses and American actors, Dolph Lundgren and Robert Forster.
Delivering a most inspiration and emotionally stirring address was Miriam Peretz, a bereaved mother who lost two sons in battle as they served with distinction in the IDF. Joining her at the speakers rostrum was a U.S. Marine Colonel who offered a heartfelt statement of support for the IDF and who donated $500 for programs focused around the wellbeing of Israeli soldiers. A resounding rendition of the Hebrew song “Jerusalem of Gold” was sung by a well-respected Evangelical pastor. Joining the celebrants at the gala were 12 active-duty IDF soldiers who arrived from Israel to meet with FIDF supporters.