Israel’s Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett told a Gala Dinner of more than 500 Atlanta Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters and community leaders Tuesday night that “Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) is the price we pay for having a state; Yom HaShoah is the price we paid for not having had one.”
The gala, at the InterContinental Buckhead, saluted the brave men and women of the IDF, and celebrated the impact of FIDF’s programs on their lives. The gala honored Atlanta-area Lone Soldiers who immigrate to Israel without members of their immediate family, to enlist in the IDF.
There are an estimated 6,400 Lone Soldiers from 80 countries serving in the IDF today. About 880 of them are American, and about 30 originally came from Georgia. Local family members of Lone Soldiers were also in attendance.
“It was such an honor to welcome Minister Bennett to Atlanta,” said FIDF National Board Member and Southeast Chairman Garry Sobel. “As minister of both education and diaspora affairs, and having served in two special forces units himself, Minister Bennett’s mission incorporates two of FIDF’s most important programs – providing education for current and former IDF soldiers, as well as supporting our Lone Soldiers, children of the diaspora who have come home to Israel to defend her.”
“This gala was a wonderful opportunity for the Atlanta community to show the brave young men and women of the IDF and their families how much we appreciate their sacrifices,” Sobel said.
Other distinguished guests included Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States Amb. Judith Varnai Shorer; Chaim Avneri, a veteran of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence; Reform Rabbi Analia Bortz, whose daughter is serving as an IDF Lone Soldier; FIDF Atlanta Board Member George Birnbaum, who formerly served as the chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; FIDF Atlanta Board Member and Young Leadership Executive Committee Member Jason Chaliff; FIDF Atlanta Board Member Michael Morris; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Southeast Executive Director Seth Baron.