Caterers extraordinaire Sandra and Clive Bank planned an “intimate” Shabbat dinner for close to 200 with an important twist: that it be for a good cause and involve the younger generation.
On Nov. 17, at their daughter Samantha Schoenbaum’s house in Midtown, they teamed up with the Friends of the Israeli Defense Force to show unity and respond to the recent tragedy in Israel. Citing Added Touch and A Kosher Touch Caterers, Sandra Bank stated, “Many [other] wonderful sponsors came to the table to help. I found this event particularly meaningful because of the engagement with younger people … getting them involved in a warm fuzzy Shabbat feeling connected to a Jewish cause. That was our goal, to get that generation to the table. I saw many new faces.”
Co-chairs Wendi Aspes and Schoenbaum came up with the idea over lunch when they were feeling depressed about “the state of world turmoil.”
The latter said, “We felt we had to do something … All over the restaurant were members of our community feeling a similar way. Behind me was Souper Jenny, and we asked her if she would make soup. We asked Julia (owner of the Daily Chew) to make chicken. I knew my mother, Sandra, would help. Every vendor was amazing and generous.”
A cousin is friends with Jenny Mollen, actress, who used her platform to advocate and speak that night.
The FIDF came into play for its vital role in caring for soldiers year-round and especially during this crucial time. Garry Sobel, FIDF national board member and chairman emeritus Georgia and Southeast, addressed the group, “Tonight is a great show of love and support for our soldiers. We haven’t had a lot to smile about the past 42 days. Tonight, we have the opportunity to give each other a hug and help our brave soldiers.”
He noted that there are now more than 500,000 soldiers serving in the IDF’s war effort.
“The soldiers’ needs are massive, and they will continue long after the war is over. FIDF provides financial support solely for the humanitarian needs of soldiers, and since Oct. 7, needs extend to medical supplies – blood/plasma, combat ambulances, field hospitals, defibrillators, monitors, and genetic testing machines.”
FIDF takes its direction from Israel’s Minister of Defense, and they are their first call for humanitarian support. To date, FIDF has met every request.
Karen Shulman, FIDF Southeast Chair, added, “I know we all remember the morning of Oct. 7. There was a lot of confusion, disbelief, panic. My first call was to Garry Sobel. We didn’t hesitate – knowing we were needed, we jumped right in spending countless hours on the phone helping with FIDF’s emergency campaign.
Since it began, our Georgia and Southeast States Chapter has raised over $2.4 million from over 3,800 gifts. The support has been unprecedented. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. The needs of our soldiers and their families are growing.”
Rabbi Peter Berg, of The Temple, shared remarks regarding the conclusion of shiva for Sgt. Rose Lubin, the fallen Lone Soldier from Dunwoody. Many of her family members were present. Berg encouraged support for FIDF. He had also recently spoken to a soldier in Gaza who was grateful that people here care.
Berg said, “I bore witness to the 45-minute video I had seen of primary footage from Oct. 7. I have shared that story over 100 times this week. As I led the Shabbat blessings, I spoke of how much it means for us to be together as a community supporting each other in the worst moment of our Jewish lives.”
Co-chair Aspes commented, “Now more than ever, we, as Jews, need our community for solace, refuge, and strength. Samantha and I felt enraged after Oct. 7, and we had to channel our feelings into action. FIDF became the perfect vehicle to help make a difference. Tonight is a clear message that we are stronger together. Many weren’t familiar with FIDF previously but have now become advocates. Let this be the beginning of many events to spread light and show our unwavering support for Israel and Jews everywhere.”
Schoenbaum summed it up, “The night was really magical. We sang ‘Hatikvah’ arm in arm. The FIDF had never been my cause, but you better believe it is now!”