Help young Israeli soldiers through the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces
- Published: Thursday, 16 March 2017 10:00
- Written by Darice Bailer, Guest Columnist
Lift one soldier and raise a nation.
Show the tiniest love, and you buoy your own spirits and warm your heart.
I discovered that on July 31, 2015, when my twin boys and I secretly paid for lunch for a young Israeli soldier and his girlfriend in Café Caffit in Jerusalem, a two-story, sunny white stone restaurant in the German colony.
It was Tu b’Av in Israel. A day of love. Like Valentine’s Day.
The soldier was dressed in his dark green uniform, a black rifle at his side. He sat at a small round table across from a pretty girl with long wavy hair.
My husband Rick rushes up to pay for the meals of American soldiers whenever he sees them on business trips across the U.S., to thank them for defending our country. With that in mind, I turned to my boys and said, “Do you see that soldier over there? Let’s pay for his meal, but let’s do it in secret.”
My son Andy and I went downstairs and talked to the manager and arranged everything with the waitress. Then we went back upstairs and waited. We saw our young waitress go over to the couple and tell them that they didn’t owe anything. That someone had taken care of their bill. The couple stared up at the waitress in surprise. Who did this?
My kids and I looked down at our plates, trying not to give ourselves away. The waitress cleared the dishes, and we saw the young couple compose a note. Then, they were gone.
The waitress came over and handed us a small white piece of paper. It was written all in Hebrew.
There are no words to describe the great feeling of happiness you brought me. People with a heart of gold like yours give soldiers like me the strength to serve and protect the land of Israel. A thousand thanks on behalf of all the soldiers of Israel.
That very special Hebrew note journeyed from Jerusalem to our home in Connecticut and on to Kansas City when my husband and I moved here last July. Those heartfelt words of gratitude are why I help young Israeli soldiers through the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
The FIDF is a U.S. organization that was established in 1981 to create a better life and brighter future for the brave soldiers who defend the State of Israel.
As the FIDF motto goes, their job is to look after Israel. “Ours is to look after them.”
And the FIDF mission is to offer educational, cultural, recreational and social service programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.
The FIDF provides financial aid for needy soldiers. (Food allowances, gift vouchers and basic appliances for their families.) College scholarships. Vacations, summer camps and holiday gifts for families of fallen soldiers. State-of-the-art prosthetics to help wounded soldiers run a marathon or bike. Recreational centers. Synagogues. And flights home for Kansas City “Lone Soldiers” or other American kids who serve and protect that tiny country.
The FIDF has 15 chapters across the country organizing events in their area. Back in the Northeast, I remember hearing an Air Force pilot and Miriam Peretz — a mother who lost two sons in battle — share their inspirational stories. The FIDF in my Connecticut and Westchester chapter introduced me to many active duty soldiers. And this past November I flew on an FIDF Mission to Israel where I watched two F-16s take off on an emergency from an air force base, boarded an Israeli ship docked in Haifa, climbed onto an Israeli tank on the Lebanese border, ate lunch with a young soldier from France, and shook hands with tank commanders and soldiers across the country.
When I saw that there were no FIDF events here in Kansas City, I organized one myself last month at the home of Susan and Vic Bergman. Forty people showed up, and several — like Lori and Paul Barnett, Ernesto Zepeda and Sandra Suffian, and Karen and Bruce Smith — had children who wore or currently wear an IDF uniform.
Now I’m working with the FIDF Midwestern Region office in Chicago to fly the Israeli soldiers speaking at their gala dinner here to talk to us in Kansas City at a private location this June.
And I will be working with Chicago to honor our Kansas City families whose sons and daughters protect the people of the Israel. If you know of someone in Kansas City who has shown tremendous love and support for Israel, please let me know so we can honor them this June!