A large map of the New York–Long Island area linking photos of Israeli soldiers and their home communities hung on a wall of the Sephardic Temple in Woodmere. In Israel, these are the Lone Soldiers; in the Five Towns they are a source of pride.
More than 500 supporters of the Israel Defense Forces came to the Long Island Chapter of Friends of the IDF at its third annual event on May 28, raising $350,000 for FIDF.
A highlight of the evening was the surprise appearance of David Golombeck from Lawrence, a Lone Soldier with the Netzach Yehuda (Nahal Haredi) bridgade, who was greeted at the podium with hugs from his parents Anne and Shelly.
Dror Moshkovski of Merrick pointed proudly to the picture of his daughter Miriam, an officer in the education corps, a graduate of HANC who spent her post-high school year at Midreshet Moriah. She made aliyah and joined the army through a religious program with a group of other young women at Kibbutz Lavi. Dror said she is stationed in the navy and committed to another year after an officer training program. “We’re very proud of her,” he said.
He said that his parents were on the ma’apil (illegal immigrant) boat the Exodus. His father was in a Jewish unit of the Russian partisans during World War II and after the war smuggled Jews through Lodz to then-Palestine and met his wife, Dror’s mother, that way. They made aliya but came to the U.S. in 1960 to join a remnant of their families here. Dror’s mother has since passed away but his father, 92, made aliyah again in December 2013. Miriam is named after an aunt who wanted to make aliyah before the war from Lithuania but was held back by her family and died in the Holocaust. “Miriam fulfilled the dream,” said Dror proudly.
Friends of the FIDF, founded in 1981, provides for the soldiers beyond what the Army provides, including programs spanning education, wellbeing and recreation programs, support for widows and orphans, and social and financial support for Lone Soldiers who are far from their families.
“Every step of the way it was as if they were behind us,” Yeshiva University graduate and former Lone Soldier Jeremy Kugelman said of the FIDF.