Friends of the Israel Defense Forces

Westchester/Connecticut Newsletter

December 2014


Dear Friends, 


I returned last week from Israel as I took part in the FIDF mission to Israel with 150 other participants. It was a life transforming experience. We visited the soldiers in the Navy, Iron Dome, Gaza Division and Air Force and learned about their daily tasks. Is it hard to believe how such young men and women have so much responsibility on their shoulders. Inspiring.


We met with soldiers who were injured during Operation Protective Edge and heard  their stories of bravery. We attended the Annual FIDF ceremony in Tel Aviv and met the Chief of Staff. We were hosted at the President's home and did much much more. To quote President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin: "This is not a trip. This is a mission!". So true. This visit was very different from any other visit I have had before. Through this mission, we got to see how the army is the melting pot of the Israeli society: Jews, Gentiles, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Ethiopians, Immigrants and many more come together to be a part of our strong IDF. The land of Israel is not just the land of the Jewish people but also the land of the free world.

I wanted to share with you my post on the day of the cold devastating murder in the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem on Tuesday, November 18th. We were in Jerusalem that morning.

Being in Israel. What a roller-coaster of emotions. A sad morning. The butchering. The horror. The unforgettable pictures. What a tragedy for the Jewish people.  This afternoon, we visited an Iron Dome battery in an Air Force base in the South and were given a presentation by Lt. Col. Liran. Words cannot describe our pride of our soldiers.


I'm proud to be Jewish. I'm a proud Israeli. I'm a proud American. G-d bless America and thank G-d for the Jewish brain who invented this miracle! Am Israel Chai!

The Iron Dome - "Creating the border in the sky."
כיפת ברזל - שמים את הגבול בשמים. 


I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends.  As we have a day of giving thanks, today, December 2, is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that asks us to reflect on the good in our lives and the good we can do for others. FIDF gives to the young men and women in uniform every single day, 24/7. I encourage you to take part in the new tradition of "Giving Tuesday". It's easy to give now.


I wish you and yours a peaceful and happy holiday season.


Anat Chavkin

Director, FIDF Westchester and Connecticut

Unwavering Spirit and Pride: Injured IDF Fighter Pilot Survives Fatal Crash 

by Laura Rolnick

Westchester/Connecticut Chapter supporter Laura Rolnick shares her poignant experiences and conversations with IDF officers in her latest feature below. 

Noam Gershony, 31, grew up in Tel Aviv in a strong Zionistic family, and dreamt of becoming a combat fighter, but "the army had other plans."  He was chosen for the Gibush program - a series of physical and mental tests that weed out the very few Israelis who will be determined eligible for flight school. A highly prestigious position, pilots are viewed as "sons of Gods" in Israel, as approximately 12,000 applications are received, 250 are accepted, and only 50 graduate.

Noam did graduate and was assigned to a helicopter squadron, which was responsible for flying Apache helicopters in various critical intelligence and combat missions.  His primary duties included collecting intelligence aerially, conducting special missions outside of Israel, and, what he considers the most gratifying part of his service, "taking care of threats" to ground troops, which involved shooting at terrorist targets, located by GPS, from the air.  The eight-year minimum commitment required by IDF pilots was easy to embrace once Noam's passion for flying and helping other IDF soldiers became clear to him.


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.... To continue reading Laura's article click here. 

  A Note From Marin Schloss

As we gear up for the 2014 holiday season, I, personally, have so much to be thankful for. Of course, the typical: friends, family, my dog. But this year, I am thankful for an amazing career I couldn't have dreamed of.


Last month, I celebrated my 2 year anniversary at FIDF. The last 2 years have been full of growth, education, and "nachas" (pleasure) for me, all a result of working with you. These past 2 years have given me a glimpse into the lives of our community members, their unwavering commitment for Israel, and the lengths they are willing to go to stand together in solidarity and support.


Having grown up in Westchester and attending both Solomon Schechter elementary school and Westchester Hebrew High School, the privilege of giving back and working within our community has been rewarding and fulfilling. Growing up, the IDF soldiers were heroic figures, yet they were strangers; now they are my friends, and thanks to FIDF, our family. Although the idea of "soldiers in a foreign army" can seem like a distant one, as the untouchable protectors of Israel, working at FIDF has brought me closer and able to relate to our boys and girls in uniform. Knowing them on a personal level, I can describe them as intelligent, talented, brave, and humble.


Thanks to FIDF, I have been given the most incredible opportunities to connect with soldiers both personally and on a communal level, give back within our community, and make a positive impact on the current and future State of Israel. I hope everyone had a meaningful Thanksgiving and encourage you to find new reasons to be thankful!

A Mitzvah Project to Support Lone Soldiers
Twins Stephen and Jesse Bartell, of New Rochelle, chose to raise money for FIDF's Lone Soldier Program as their Bar Mitzvah project, and their whole family got on board with their efforts! Following in the footsteps of their older sister, Hannah, the boys wanted this special time in their lives to be shared with a worthy cause.  Hannah raised money to provide electronics to sick children, and Stephen and Jesse felt that Israel and the IDF was a cause they wanted to support.

Jesse and Stephen began this journey with a meeting in the FIDF NYC offices. They made a First Giving campaign page telling a bit about their project.  The boys ordered bracelets that they are selling for $2. Jesse and Stephen wanted to spread awareness of their project in their own synagogue, Beth El in New Rochelle. Together, FIDF and the Bartells planned to bring a soldier to this congregation on November 9th for a presentation.  Beth El's 6th, 7th, and 8th graders attended as part of their Hebrew School program; this program was also open to the entire congregation. About 30 people gathered to hear Lieutenant David's story. David shared his personal background and military experience. Having participated this past summer in Operation Protective Edge, there was a lot of curiosity and interest. David lived in New York for 4 years, so it was easy for the children in attendance to relate. Questions flowed freely and about an hour later, everyone joined for cupcakes.


The Bartell Family and FIDF will be at the Mid-Westchester JCC on December 2nd for a special program put on by Westchester Adult Jewish Education (WAJE) titled "Life in the IDF." Jesse and Stephen will be selling bracelets for their project and reciting the prayer for Israel's soldiers.


Thank you to Abe, Donna, Hannah, Stephen and Jesse Bartell for being wonderful friends of the IDF!

From Penn to the Paratroopers:
 Corey Feldman's IDF Story

Thank you to the Feldman Family of Harrison, NY for opening their home to our community for the opportunity to hear their son, Corey, speak about his personal IDF experience. Corey grew up in Scarsdale and went to the University of Pennsylvania to study Political Science. After graduation, he decided to make a commitment to the State of Israel and enlisted as a Lone Soldier in the IDF. Although done with his service, Corey participated in Operation Protective Edge. He is currently back in the States and lives in Brooklyn.


Corey shared intimately about his experiences in the army, moments of strength, pride, and even loss. Corey's family sat teary-eyed holding hands knowing the sacrifice their brother and son made. After Corey spoke, there was a Q and A. One man asked a fascinating question, "now that you are no longer serving in the IDF, what do you do to support Israel?" Corey answered proudly, without hesitation and stated that while he works "9-5" at a desk job, he spends the rest of his time advocating for the State of Israel and spreading positive information and PR about the most moral army in the world.


Corey kept a blog throughout his service. To read his blog, click here: Corey's Blog

FIDF Support from Around the Globe

Former FIDF intern Samantha Fischler currently studies in Israel for the year. As she and her fellow students are frequent guests at homes for Shabbat, she came up with an idea to help Israel's soldiers while bringing a sweet treat to the gracious Shabbat hosts. Samantha has been busy baking cookies and currently sells her FIDF themed Shabbat packages to her classmates. All proceeds from the bake sale are donated to FIDF, helping the soldiers who make her time in Israel so safe and sweet.

FIDF Westchester Annual Fundraiser


FIDF Connecticut Annual Fundraiser


Click below to see video of the CT Annual Fundraiser 

as broadcast by Shalom TV.

Soldiers of the IDF
Soldiers of the IDF
Middle East Security: Dichter
Middle East Security: Dichter
Save the Date: National NY Gala Dinner - March 10

Save the Date: FIDF Delegation to Poland and Israel

FIDF Delegation to Poland and Israel
Honoring 70 Years since Auschwitz Liberation
April 16-24, 2015 


For more information, including photos from last year's delegation 

visit our website.

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! 

Make a difference this Giving Tuesday and 
Donate to Friends of the IDF.
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. 

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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