FIDF’s Solidarity Night Draws Sold Out Crowd

FIDF’s Solidarity Night Draws Sold Out Crowd

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces supporters heard compelling stories from soldiers and how Atlanta’s FIDF demonstrates consistent support for them.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Justine Cohen, Renee Evans, Tracy Seitz, and Samantha Trief emotionally read letters from IDF soldiers who perished.
Justine Cohen, Renee Evans, Tracy Seitz, and Samantha Trief emotionally read letters from IDF soldiers who perished.

Yom Ha’zikaron mirroring Yom Ha’aztmaut was the backdrop for the third Friends of the Israel Defense Forces event since Oct. 7.

Seth Baron, Vice President of the FIDF Georgia & Southeast States, noted that past events featuring former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and more recently media star Montana Tucker, built upon this annual gala on May 13 at the Westin Buckhead. With 650 attendees, Baron commented that the venue had to be adjusted to accommodate the sold-out crowd.

Channeling his father, Baron stated that Jews have “to stand up.” Noting the direct attack on Israel by Iran in April where 99 percent of the incoming weapons were destroyed, he thanked the IDF, the U.S. military and FIDF Atlanta Board for their exceptional passion for the soldiers along with Karen Shulman, local chair, and Garry Sobel, past chair and national board member.

Representatives from the US Army came to show support.

He recognized Stephanie and David Lubin (family of fallen Lone Soldier Rose Lubin), along with current and former Lone Soldiers. He ended, “Gaza is a stark reminder of the cost we all bear, 641 [soldiers] have lost their lives.”

An IDF video was shown with former Ambassador Ron Dermer explaining how on Oct. 7, “reservists were pulled away from their jobs and put under the stress of doing open heart surgeries 24/7.”

FIDF Southeast Chair Karen Shulman spoke of her trip to Israel.

Jeris Hollander, Associate Director FIDF Georgia & Southeast States, stated, “The world is incredibly small. This is a punch in the gut … so much of the world’s potential was lost as mothers sent teenagers [to war] with fear and pride.”

She introduced an emotional recital where Justine Cohen, Renee Evans, Tracy Seitz, and Samantha Trief read letters that IDF soldiers entering dangerous Gaza wrote in selfless prose: “Don’t sacrifice for me,” “I am happy I chose this life,” “I didn’t die in vain.” A riveting video was shown of Rose Lubin, hand on heart, singing Hatikvah at a previous FIDF function.

Into her fifth year as Chair FIDF Georgia & Southeast States, Shulman was compelled to visit Israel in December, and shared, “Israel has survived and thrived against all odds … as we at home fight the cycle of hatred.”

FIDF Board member Wendy Aspes introduced Captain H.

Shulman has particular interest in helping PTSD sufferers and rehabilitation. She said, “We were on the phone raising money for blood plasma and field hospitals. We deliver what they need, not what they think they need … Atlanta established a connection with a brigade unit, some of whom were murdered and still held hostage today.”

A video was shown of Ori Megedish, who was kidnapped in her pajamas, and ultimately rescued. She said, “23 days in captivity seemed like years.”

Two new faces, board members Wendi Aspes and Samantha Schoenbaum, introduced IDF soldiers. Christian female Captain “H.” grew up amidst Muslims and Jews a half-hour from a Hezbollah post. The IDF is not mandatory for Christians. Eighteen female soldiers volunteered from her village. At first, she was worried about her Arabic accent, until her IDF unit welcomed her with hugs. Her role was to represent Israel to the Arab world, like describing Syrian children being helped in Israeli hospitals.

(From left) Seth Baron, VP FIDF Georgia & Southeast States; Garry Sobel, FIDF National board member; Jeris Hollander, FIDF Associate Director Georgia & Southeast States; Shahar Peled, IDF Master Sergeant; Yadin Gellman, IDF Major (Res) FIDF; and Jessica Sobel // All photos by Jon Marks

She said, “Two of my friends were murdered. I had to remain focused to stay alive. What if someone was to stab me? The world needs to understand the history of Israel.”

Next, Master Sergeant Peled left his executive job and fiancé to re-enlist. “The Oct. 7 attack was like a horror movie … blood everywhere like loops in my mind … I’m only doing live interviews because the media edits, putting out hate and lies.”

FIDF Board member Samantha Bank Schoenbaum introduced Master Sergeant Shahar Peled

Sobel stated that he hasn’t stopped worrying since Oct. 7. On his recent trip to an attacked kibbutz, he saw a face down doll and pictured to whom it belonged. He later said, “I told the soldiers, ‘We are 6,000 miles away, but we are one family.’ They need to know they are never alone and need to take time to recharge, as we hosted a barbeque for 500 soldiers.”

He spoke of brave helicopter pilots who transported hostages home or to the hospital quickly for critical treatment. The FIDF has been by soldiers’ sides for 43 years … when you attack us, you unite us. Never again.”

Featured speaker Major (Res.) Yadin Gellman described his very elite unit where only one percent qualify. “Oct. 6 was my 30th birthday. On Oct. 7, I was saving hostages and killing terrorists.”

The audience was chilled as he recounted how his comrade, David, and himself were shot and continued to fight. “I had no air in my lungs. I thought I had lost an arm. An hour passed. There were terrorists all around. The tank came and saved me. David died in the helicopter. I lost 10 friends.”

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