A record 1,600 young professionals from the New York area gathered on Saturday night, December 2, at the Metropolitan Pavilion for the red carpet Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Young Leadership New York (YL-NY) Division 15th Anniversary “Crystal Ball” Gala, raising more than $550,000 to support well-being and educational programs for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers.
“With 1,600 guests this year, the FIDF Young Leadership New York gala is the Jewish world’s most successful young-leadership fundraising event,” said FIDF National Young Leadership Director Bari Lovi. “We have some 8,000 active young supporters in the New York area, and we are constantly welcoming new faces. It makes me proud to see all these dedicated young leaders embracing their roles as advocates for the well-being of Israeli soldiers.”
The gala, co-chaired by FIDF YL-NY board members Debbie Konstadt Abramson, Matthew Brunwasser, and Alexandra Faivus, featured gourmet food, an open bar, live music, casino-style games, and luxury prizes, including high-end jewelry, artwork, and spa getaways.
Distinguished guests included FIDF National Chairman Arthur Stark; FIDF YL-NY President Ashley Emrani; FIDF YL-NY Board Chairman Brian Mermelshtein; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF National Young Leadership Director Bari Lovi.
The FIDF YL-NY Gala is Young Leadership’s largest event of the year and raises funds to expand FIDF’s efforts to support well-being and educational programs for thousands of IDF soldiers, including: economic support through the DIGNITY program, much-needed weeks of rest and recuperation through the SPIRIT program, flights home for lone soldiers with no immediate family in Israel, IMPACT! scholarships for combat veterans of modest means to pursue higher education, and a host of other vital well-being initiatives.
“Ultimately, this gala emphasized that while their job is to look after Israel, our job is to look after them. These funds will make a profound difference in the lives of so many brave soldiers who serve and sacrifice 24/7 to protect Israel and Jewish people across the globe,” Lovi added.
The YL Division of FIDF provides individuals ages 21–40 the opportunity to become involved in the organization’s work while socializing and networking with their peers. YL-NY offers a diverse range of educational and social activities throughout the year, including parlor meetings with IDF soldiers, Shabbat dinners, parties, and a speaker series to raise awareness about FIDF’s various programs. YL also hosts fundraising parties at local hot spots that attract hundreds of guests, and allocates the funds it raises at these events to support FIDF’s programs and services.