>Focus On… Friends of The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF)

>One of the aspects of serving as Rabbi in a community such as our that continually impresses me is the wide range of involvement by the members of our temple family. Most recently I was introduced to the Friends of The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) by our temple member Ron Gross. Ronn and his family have become remarkably involved in this organization that works to enhance the lives of IDF soldiers and their families.

I asked Ron to explain the goals of The Friends of The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and this is what he wrote…

June 25, 2009

My family and I have become involved with The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), this fantastic philanthropy, over the past five years and believe that it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of Israeli soldiers, their families in Israel and around the world, those of us in the United States that come in contact with the FIDF and, therefore, ultimately the country Israel itself.

The FIDF is a United States based organization that helps the soldiers of Israel by providing social, educational, cultural and recreational programs and facilities. These programs and facilities go directly to aid those who defend the Jewish homeland. A visit to the website will show you the various initiatives, programs and facilities that the FIDF has already and will continue to provide. The website is www.fidf.org .

The FIDF provides support for the families of fallen soldiers. They also provide support and aid to lone soldiers, those soldiers from around the world who have taken it upon themselves to travel alone to Israel and volunteer for military service. The FIDF provides housing, Shabbat and holiday programming and family placement and other support for these very special lone soldiers.

The FIDF provides a way for US citizens to make contact with and become more a part of the Jewish homeland. For instance, one of the FIDF programs that my family has supported is called “Impact!.” This is an educational scholarship program whereby combat veterans can receive tuition, books and other aid towards their college education. Each time we provide for a scholarship, we are introduced to “our” student and a relationship is forged. Through our pen pal relationships, we follow their ups and downs and have become friends with many of these Israeli soldiers as they move on in their lives – not only educationally, but personally and as concerned citizens of the world. A truly special bond with these people and the State of Israel is being built and nurtured in this way.

The FIDF has many resources both here in the United States and while visiting Israel to further develop and strengthen our understanding and love for Israel. It is for all these reasons that I believe the FIDF plays an important role in strengthening the State of Israel and I welcome and urge you and all our fellow congregants to learn about the FIDF and support it however possible.

Ronnie Gross

West Orange, NJ

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