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FRIENDS OF THE IDF (FIDF) 2019 Las Vegas Gala

by Dr. Adele Zorn

Back) FIDF National Board Member Michael Werner, Gala Co-Chair Dr. Traci Grossman, Gala Honoree Justice Michael Cherry, FIDF Las Vegas Chapter Founder Dana Werner, Governor Steve Sisolak, Gala Co-Chair Sigal Chattah, Chairwoman of CUFI Action Fund Sandra Hagee Parker, Founder and National Chairman of CUFI Pastor John Hagee, Gala Honoree Yohan Lowie, FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir. (Front) 1st Lt. Jerusalem and Cpl. Eliana.

A captivating and extremely interesting evening devoted to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Heroes was held at The Venetian Murano Ballrooms. The event A NIGHT OF HEROES was co-chaired by Dana Werner, Sigal Chattah and Traci Grossman, M.D.

Ellah Lowie, Merav Lowie, Yohan Lowie, Justice Michael Cherry and Sheryl Kogan

Two admirable individuals that Las Vegas is very proud of were the event Honorees. Honorees were: Yohan Lowie and Justice Michael Cherry.

Chair Dana Werner, Assembly Shannon Axelrod and NV Governor Steve Sisolak

Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) help support educational, social, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for the heroic men and women of the IDF. FIDF helps the fallen and wounded proving comfort and care and also supports the families of fallen soldiers. Approximately 6,700 Veterans and bereaved family members received support in 2018.

Sheryl Kogan and Honorable NV Supreme Court Judge Elissa Cadish

The event started with a cocktail reception in the outer Ballroom where guests mingled and had their picture taken. They enjoyed cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres such as smoked salmon rillettes, beef Kafia Kebab with garlic sauce and mushroom stuffed pee wee potato.

Arthur and Bonnie Marshall

Noel Gage and Lynn Moravec

At the end of the cocktail reception, chimes informed that it was time to be seated for dinner and the evening program. Guests stood as an Honor Guard entered the stage. Renowned singer Joanna Petri then sang both the “Israeli National Anthem” (Hatikva) and “U.S. Star Spangled Banner” America’s Anthem.

Gala Co-Chairs Dr. Traci Grossman, FIDF Las Vegas Chapter Founder Dana Werner, and Sigal Chattah

The program began with co-chairs Dana Werner, Traci Grossman and Sigal Chattah opening and welcoming remarks. Dana said that this was the largest attended Las Vegas FIDF Gala ever. Mentioned were many names of the amazing amount of distinguished individuals in the room and all attendees were thanked for attending the Gala.

FIDF supporter Avi Shatzkes reunites with his daughter, IDF Lone Soldier Cpl. Eliana, with Chairwoman of CUFI Action Fund Sandra Hagee Parker, at the FIDF Gala Dinner.

Guest of honor founder and national Chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Pastor John Hagen and Sandra Hagee Parker CUFI were introduced. Sandra is Chairwoman of the CUFI Action Fund, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C. that is related to the nation’s largest pro-Israel grassroots organization.

Sandra Hagee Parker did a spectacular job as Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Henry Kronberg came onstage and did the Hamotzi (prayer blessing for bread)

Henry Kronberg and Edye Goldberg

David Chesnoff

David Z.Chesnoff, Esq. Previous FIDF honoree introduced the distinguished Honorees of the event.

FDIF Gala Honoree Supreme Court Justice Michael Cherry with Dr. Adele Zorn

Justice Michael Cherry’s legal career spans over 50 years. First he was a Deputy Public Defender, then 28 years in private practice. In 2006 he was elected to the Nevada Supreme Court and served 12 years and 2 terms as Chief Justice before retiring in January of 2019. He currently serves as an adjunct Professor at Touro University and voluntarily serves the community on a wide range of non-profit boards.

Yohan Lowie is a visionary developer behind some of Las Vegas’ most luxurious and distinctive developments such as Tivoli Village, Queensridge, Nevada Appellate Court Building and so many more.

In addition to his business ventures he is known for his involvement with non-profit organizations and is Chairman of the Israeli American Council in Las Vegas.

Lowie served in an IDF elite combat unit, and his three children volunteered to serve as IDF Lone Soldiers in elite units themselves (Lone Soldiers are those who enlist in the IDF from around the world without immediate family in Israel)

Each honoree thanked FDIF for this honor and gave an interesting speech.

Dinner was served:

Kosher Plated Dinner Menu:

Salad: Smoked Salmon Salad, sweet little gem and arugala, diced cucumber and tear drop tomatoes, fried capers and parve creamy dill emulsion.

Entrée: Seared free-range chicken, sweet corn cream, lemon scented quinoa, baby vegetables with a port wine reduction

Dessert: Macaroon, coconut Cream Mango-Passion Fruit Chutney

Danny and Shannon Axelrod

Lilo and Alexander Kuechel

Afterwards, Videos were shown with some of the IDF soldiers conflicts both sorrowful and heroic. It was difficult to watch, but amazing to see what they have to go through and the incredible heroism involved.

Israel Defense Soldier with NV Councilwoman Michele Fiore

A delegation of IDF soldiers travelled from Israel for the event including 5 speaking at the Gala. Speaking without giving their full names because of security were Staff Sergeant I, Staff Sgt. E. who in 2017 helped defend a family from a terror attack in the settlement Halamish (Neveh Tzuf), by shooting and neutralizing the terrorist; and 1st Lt. N, born and raised in a Druze family, who now serves in a Paratroopers special unit, despite his parents’ opposition.

Others speaking were: Lieutenant Jerusalem an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier whose visual impairment did not stop her from becoming a volunteer officer in the IDF Northern Command and Cpl. Eliana, a Lone Soldier from New York and a search and rescue instructor who joined the IDF because of her family’s religious background and Zionist values.

Sharing their stories was incredible.

IDF Liutenant Jerusalem and L.V. Assemblyman Alexander Assefa

It was especially interesting for me to be sitting with Lieutenant Jerusalem who gave me some additional insight into what she talked about onstage. Lieutenant Jerusalum currently commands 1200 IDF officer soldiers.

FIDF Gala co-chair Dana Werner and husband Michael Werner

Support for FIDF was next. Dana Werner’s adorable 11 year old grandson Benjamin Herschmann came onstage and expressively spoke about Israel. Dana thanked him and also a very special thank you to her husband Michael Werner.

Dr. Miriam Adelson and Sheldon Adelson

Many substantial monetary pledges were given by individuals who stood and spoke about their motivation to help support FIDF. Nearly $5 million was raised for the organization’s well-being and educational programs for Israeli soldiers including a $4 million donation pledged by business magnates, philanthropists and steadfast supporters of Israel, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson.

FIDF National Chairman Emeritus Nily Falic pledging her support.

Gad Shimron a former Mossad agent and author of “ Mossad Exodus: The Daring Undercover Rescue of the Lost Jewish Tribe,” was the closing Keynote speaker at the Gala. Shimron was instrumental in Israel’s rescue mission “Operation Brothers,” which helped Ethiopian Jews immigrate to Israel. Shimron’s book inspired the recent Netflix hit “ The Red Sea Diving Resort .” His remarks and videos were exceptional.

The surprise on-stage reunion at the FIDF Las Vegas Gala Dinner, when former Mossad agent Gad Shimron was greeted by Las Vegas resident Nasanete Kefli, an Ethiopian Jew whose life he saved.

Following Gad Shimron’s remarks Shimaroan was surprised as one of the Ethiopian Jews whose life he saved came onstage. Las Vegas resident Nasanete Kefli, who was born in 1981 in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia and in 1982 immigrated to Israel as part of “Operation Brothers,” was invited onstage to reunite with Shimron.

What an exciting evening it was. Congratulations to FIDF Las Vegas Gala for a very successful and interesting event.

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