Hollywood celebrities were among the 1,200 Friends of the IDF who attended the NGO’s annual gala in Los Angeles, hosted by Haim Saban, which raised $31 million.
Famous entertainment and fashion celebrities, as well as prominent business, philanthropic, high-tech and political leaders, were among the 1,200 people who attended the ninth annual Friends of the IDF (FIDF) gala in Los Angeles on Thursday, which raised $31 million for the benefit of the IDF, including wounded veterans, families of fallen soldiers and “lone soldiers” from around the world who volunteer to serve in the Israeli army.
Celebrities in attendance at the sold-out event, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, included actors Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas and Gene Simmons. The gala featured performances by the Beach Boys and other famous musicians.
American-Israeli billionaire Haim Saban, who donated $5 million, hosted the gala – as he does every year – with his wife Cheryl.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headquartered in Chicago and Jerusalem, gave $8.4 million, which was the largest donation.
“We are here to show the amazing support of Hollywood elite and the Jewish community of the US for Israel and IDF soldiers,” Saban stated. “For the past nine years I have watched this gala grow into the preeminent charity event it is today, and I am truly humbled by the funds raised yesterday, which are a testament to the importance of the FIDF organization and its mission. The overwhelming support from the Los Angeles community continues to amaze me.”
The event included addresses by bereaved mothers of fallen soldiers and a presentation on advanced Israeli medical technology used in the US.
A not-for-profit organization, the FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors to provide educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the men and women of the IDF. FIDF has more than 150,000 supporters and 15 regional offices throughout the US and Panama.