Friends of the Israel Defense Forces

Westchester/Connecticut Newsletter

September 2014


Dear Friends, 


On the evening of Rosh Hashanah, I went with my children to visit Mr. Bar*, a 94 year old Holocaust Survivor who lives in my hometown of Stamford. I heard about Mr. Bar from the Rabbi of my congregation.  As he is home bound with no family, I found this would be a nice opportunity to raise his spirits before the New Year and to offer my children a teachable moment. Mr. Bar was happy to see us and thanked us for the sweet baked goods we brought.


He was eager to show me his tombstone on paper which prominently displayed his Hebrew name. "I had to take care of my Jewish funeral and now I know I can die peacefully." he said. I smiled and told him I thought he had some time. While physically walking is difficult for him, mentally he is in fine shape.


Mr. Bar then asked me if I work. I told him about FIDF and all that we do for the IDF soldiers. His eyes lit up. He looked at me and said, "Now I am really at peace knowing that the soldiers who protect Israel are being taken care of. As a Holocaust survivor it means so much knowing that what I went through will not happen again."


I held Mr. Bar's hand and wished him Shana Tova and many more years of good health. I promised to come and visit him again. As much as this visit was a teachable moment for my children, it was also a teachable moment for me..... to life. Am Israel Chai.


Wishing you and yours Shana Tova and a meaningful fast. 


Anat Chavkin

Director, FIDF Westchester and Connecticut


*name withheld for confidentiality 


  A Letter from Aram Rubinson

 Westchester Co-Chair 

We are all so hopeful that Rosh Hashana 5775 turned out to be a peaceful one - at home and abroad. The turn of the calendar marked an end to a tumultuous year for many of us, and we all hope that this new year will be better than any of the ones before it. By dedicating and contributing to the Westchester chapter of the FIDF, we can help others achieve that same objective as well. If anyone deserves a year better than the one before it, Israeli soldiers may very well top that list. 


Let's help them achieve that. Giving is important, but so is attending our Parlor meetings, our Committee meetings and our galas set for October 25 (Westchester) and October 26 (Connecticut). These are great days for us all to come together and express our thanks and best wishes to one another and to the young men and women of the IDF. Help us recognize their efforts by showing up and by encouraging others to do the same. If we each attract one new family to the FIDF, our force will only multiply. 


Shana Tova.

  Shabbat with the Levinsons

Ron Bolotin, a participant in FIDF's Strides program, joined the extended Levinson Family for Shabbat dinner in early September. Strides, a program under FIDF's Wounded Veteran umbrella, provides wounded IDF veterans with custom athletic prosthetics enabling them to "live life without limitations." The Levinson Family graciously hosted Ron for dinner, passing along the warmth of the entire local Jewish community.

Said Ethan Levinson, "Friday evening was a generational event with family ages 5 to 85 gathered to share Shabbos with one of the brave soldiers of the IDF. It was another wonderful opportunity for us to gain first hand perspective on the current state of affairs in Israel while also learning some history from our guest. Perhaps the most rewarding part of the evening was when among the chaos of a large family Shabbos gathering, Ron remarked, that even half way around the world he felt like he was home. We are grateful for having the honor to host Ron in our home and eagerly look forward to the next time."


Thank you to the Levinsons for an evening filled with delicious food and great company. FIDF is pleased to bring soldiers such as Ron to our community many times throughout the year. We invite you to host an active or a veteran IDF soldier in your home. 

Shabbat with JCC in Harrison
On September 5th, Lieutenant Amir joined the JCC in Harrison for Shabbat services and dinner. The community, who annually hosts an IDF soldier, is very passionate about Israel and FIDF and finds a deep meaning in connecting with young soldiers. Lieutenant Amir joined Rabbi Eytan Hammerman in reciting the prayer for the State of Israel and spoke during dinner. His story was followed by an informative question and answer session. The community was fascinated to learn about his role as a soldier in underground warfare and his participation in Operation Protective Edge. 
Shabbat at Congregation Agudath Sholom
in Stamford 
On Shabbat, September 13th, Sergeant Yoni Assraf, a war hero awarded a Medal of Honor from the Chief of Staff, joined Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford for morning services. Sergeant Yoni joined Rabbi Daniel Cohen in reciting the prayer for the State of Israel and spoke briefly expressing his gratitude to all the Jews in the diaspora who support the soldiers and Israel. Thank you to Rabbi Cohen and to the congregation members for the warm welcome Yoni received. 
An Evening of Inspiration with IDF War Hero

On Saturday evening, September 13th, over 50 people gathered at the home of Shelley and Eddie Senker in Stamford, CT, to hear the inspiring story of Sergeant Yoni Assraf. Sergeant Assraf, a former member of the reconnaissance battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade in Marun-A-Ras, recalled his tremendous story of bravery and resilience during the Second Lebanon War. During his service, Yoni repeatedly demonstrated exceptional leadership and courage. In 2006, he was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service as a result of his remarkable courage and heroism in the field. The evening opened with a short video depicting Yoni's experience as an IDF soldier and the events which led to the receiving of his award.  

Eddie and Shelley Senker with Yoni Assraf

Jeff Maron, Yoni Assraf and Phil Klapper

Yoni poignantly shared the powerful story of his service, answering questions from attendees and illustrating the importance of FIDF's work for IDF soldiers and veterans, like himself. Yoni's heroism exemplifies the ideals of the IDF. We are grateful for his visit. Thank you to Shelley and Eddie Senker for graciously opening their home.

Cycling with Soul for IDF Soldiers

The Killers said it best, "I've Got Soul but I'm Not a Soldier." This song blared through the speakers on Sunday, September 14th at Soul Cycle in Rye Brook, NY, and SOUL is what we had! Over 45 riders gathered in support of FIDF the best way they know how, cycling.  We were fortunate to be joined by IDF Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant Yoni Assraf, who energetically cycled along with the group.  Special thank you to Hyla Ruby, Jamie Levinson and Shelby Meizlik, whose great leadership and passion led to the tremendous outcome. Proudly, we raised almost $20,000 on this sunny Sunday for Israel's soldiers!

Steve Ruby, Yoni Assraf, Jamie Levinson, 

Hyla Ruby and Shelby Meizlik

Riders Cycle for IDF Soldiers


FIDF Westchester Annual Fundraiser

Saturday, October 25th

Click here for tickets

Davka (Precisely...) Now - Travel to Israel with FIDF

NOVEMBER 14 - 21 - FIDF National Mission to Israel 

Experience life through the eyes of an IDF soldier.


Click here to view the mission itinerary and application!

Is Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah Coming Up?

Click below to read about starting a meaningful Mitzvah project with FIDF.  

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Stay up to date with the FIDF Westchester/Connecticut Chapter! 

We Want to Hear from YOU


Are you the parent, sibling, or friend of a Lone Soldier?

Do you have a personal connection to the IDF?


We want to hear from you!


While the soldiers may be on the front lines, their stories hit close to home. We would love to hear your stories, see your photos, and hear how you are connected to the brave men and women of the IDF.  Send us an e-mail to





Lone Soldiers leave their countries of origin to serve in the IDF. We provide them with support throughout their service, flights home, financial grants, and social events. Read More




The Eitan Program provides an opportunity for teenagers from difficult backgrounds exempt from enlisting to join the army. The program supplies them with tools to have a meaningful service and provides them with a vocation as a mode of succeeding in life thereafter. Read More



Provides hard working combat units with a much needed week of rest, relaxation and bonding. These rare breaks from the battlefield allow soldiers to unwind, as well as recharge in preparation for future challenges. 

Read More



Grants former soldiers from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds who served in combat units a 4-year college scholarship at an Israeli institution. In return, the students are required to complete 120 hours of community service per year. Read more



Legacy supports thousands of bereaved families who have suffered the devastating loss of a loved-one fallen during military service and provides opportunities to connect with peers who have also suffered this terrible loss and helps them celebrate holidays and life-cycle events. Read More




The Strides Program provides recreational prosthetics for athletic activities, giving veterans the means to live life without limitation. This program focuses on leg amputees. Read More