(JTA) — The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces raised $53.8 million at a Beverly Hills gala.
Some 1,200 people were in attendance at the annual event on Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which raised what organizers said was a “record” amount for Israeli soldiers for needed services such as: academic scholarships to combat veterans; financial assistance for soldiers in need; support for Lone Soldiers throughout their service and upon release; aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers; weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.
The event was chaired by FIDF National Board Member and major supporter Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl.
The largest single gift in FIDF’s history was announced at the event as $16.6 million from Oracle Co-Founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison. His donation will support the construction of well-being facilities on a new training campus for the IDF’s coed infantry units.
“For 2,000 years, we were a stateless people, but now, we have a country we can call our own. Through all of the perilous times since Israel’s founding, we have called on the brave men and women of the IDF to defend our home. In my mind, there is no greater honor than supporting some of the bravest people in the world, and I thank FIDF for allowing us to celebrate and support these soldiers year after year. We should do all we can to show these heroic soldiers that they are not alone,” said Ellison.
Israeli actress and model Moran Atias was master of ceremonies of the event. The event featured special performances by singer Seal, The Tenors, David Foster & Friends, and Gene Simmons. Celebrity guests at the gala included: Miss Israel 2013 Yityish Titi Aynaw, Gerard Butler, David Foster, Joanna Krupa, Katharine McPhee, Paul Reubens, Melissa Rivers, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.