The Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, brought 30 of his troops with him when he came to New York in March. He introduced his Dream Team at a Friends of the IDF fundraising dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria, which was emceed by syndicated radio host Monica Crowley.
“Shalom, y’all,” said Daniel, one of the Dream Team members.
“I’m originally from Houston, Texas. Eight years ago I made aliyah and joined the IDF. Today I am a captain in the air force. I operate unmanned drones in the sky, watching over Israel.”
Netsanet, also of the Dream Team, said she was born in Ethiopia. “I’m proud to wear this uniform. I’m a member of the education unit of IDF where I help members of my community.”
Another member said he became a helicopter combat pilot in 1986. He went o medical school and became a pediatrician. He was part of the IDF medical mission in Haiti following the disastrous earthquake.
“In 12 days,” he related, “we treated 1,000 patients, performed 300 life-saving operations, and delivered 16 babies in our field hospital. They named one baby Israel in honor of the IDF.
“We are trained to save the state of Israel but I much prefer to save the lives of newborn babies in the name of the IDF.”
For the 12th year, Benny Shabtai served as dinner chairman. He called for contributions and many in the audience of 1,300 responded. Fashion designer Elie Tahari donated $100,000. The Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York raised $500,000. The Genesis Philanthropy Group added $750,000. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews pledged $4 million.
Guy Banai, an Israeli guest at the dinner, who is deaf and spoke through a sign language translator, tearfully related how his son was so happy to join the IDF’s Givati Brigade combat unit even though, as the son of deaf parents, he was exempt.
Liran was struck down by Palestinian terrorists who attacked his jeep on the Gaza border.
Sgt. Todd Bowers of the U.S. Marines was so moved that he lifted himself from his plate of prime ribs to announce a personal donation of $1,000 in memory of the fallen son, Staff Sgt. Liran Banai.
Tim Boxer is editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com