Actor and comedian Richard Kind, prominent local volunteer Shirley Cohen and Israeli Defense Forces lone soldier Risa Kelemer will highlight the fifth annual Friends of the IDF Gala on Oct. 29.
For the Midatlantic chapter of the FIDF, this year’s event is especially exciting. In addition to being the first time the chapter will include an entertainer as the master of ceremonies, it is also the first sit-down dinner the chapter will host, something Ron Eisenberg, chapter president, hopes will get attendees involved in the event.
“A successful gala makes for a good year,” said Eisenberg, adding that the gala is the only real organized fundraising event the FIDF hosts.
Last year, the FIDF was able to provide 3,400 college scholarships to young men and women in Israel who otherwise would not be able to earn a four-year degree. The Midatlantic chapter has also built a well-being center for one battalion based near Gaza, and it sponsors a search-and-rescue battalion, something Eisenberg said the organization is very proud of, considering just five years ago it was little more than a small group meeting in Midatlantic Executive Director Charlie Levine’s kitchen.
The national FIDF organization was established in 1981 to provide social, educational and recreational support for Israeli soldiers and their families. Since it was founded, it has expanded to include 15 regional offices in the United States and a pair of offices in Latin America.
The first year the organization hosted the gala, Eisenberg said, a couple hundred people attended, and the chapter raised about $200,000. Last year, that figure grew to almost $400,000 with 600 attendees.
Despite launching the Midatlantic chapter in the thick of the recession, he said the support for the cause has been strong in the Maryland area.
“They’re kids,” Eisenberg said of those who receive FIDF support. “They really, really, really appreciate everything we do. If you can’t get excited about that, pack it in.”
Tickets will be available right up until the day of the gala. Gala donor tickets are $200, with opportunities to upgrade. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 410-486-0004 or visit fidf.org/mdgala.