By Alanna Berman
While it is the job if the Israel Defense Forces to take care of Israel and her citizens, it’s the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ job to make sure that the soldiers are well-taken care of during their service. Through scholarship programs, religious and spiritual services, and state-of-the-art recreational space on army bases throughout Israel; the FIDF has made the lives of every soldier in the IDF better. With more than 120,000 supporters in 15 regional offices across the United States and Panama, the FIDF is reinforcing the bond between Jews in the diaspora, soldiers in the IDF, and the State of Israel.
This month, the San Diego regional office of the FIDF will host “A Salute to Israel: FIDF Sounds of Music,” featuring a musical journey through Israel’s history at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Maestro Ofir Sobol, musical director of the IDF Rabbinical Choir, will lead the evening’s events to benefit the services of the FIDF. Sobol wrote most of the arrangements for the concert, which will be performed in Hebrew, Yiddish and English.
“The compositions document the time in Israel from 1948 until today,” Sobol says. “We picked the best of Israel to present through music, and people who watch the show will see that it is very emotional to hear these songs. If you are somehow connected to Israel you will find your favorite out of the selection of songs here, too.”
Sobol says the concert is just one in a series of concerts he will preside over to support the FIDF. The blend of cantorial and Yiddish songs with Chassidic and chazanut music is a special blend he hopes will encourage attendees to support the efforts of what he calls “one of the most powerful organizations helping the IDF in the U.S.”
Other guests for the evening include Cantor Netanel Baram; San Diego’s own Jonathan Valverde, who runs the group Latinos for Israel; and IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson.
Abramson will take a break from singing for high profile embers of Israeli society and the bereaved families of IDF soldiers to be in San Diego for the event.
“[My role as the IDF Chief Cantor] is not just singing prayers, but also the Israeli [upbeat] songs,” Abramson says. “Through music, I can connect people of all backgrounds. Of course, to create connection between the soldiers and the Israeli people with the army, is not so easy, but if I can do that with music, I love it.”
As a member of the IDF Rabbinical Corps, Abramson sees the FIDF work most through that lens. Synagogues and houses of worship, previously unavailable to soldiers in parts of Israel are now being built nearly every day, which he says “is a way for all the soldiers – religious or not – to connect.”
Nir Benzvi, Executive Director of the regional FIDF office, says provididng for the spiritual well-being of soldiers serving in the IDF is an important aspect of his group’s mission.
“FIDF works closely with the IDF Rabbinate, which acts as the exclusive military ‘Halachic’ authority and is in charge of all religious matters in the military,” he says.
“Through the Spiritual Needs Program, FIDF builds and furnishes synagogues on IDF bases, thus providing the space and means for soldiers to pray and observe Jewish practices.”
The concert this month will allow supporters of Israel to come together in celebration of the work the FIDF does to support Israel and her soldiers through a unique cultural experience with top members of the IDF. Ticket sales from the evening event will of course support the many programs of the FIDF.
“A Salute to Israel: FIDF Sounds of Music,” will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 in the Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Tickets ($54-$250) are available online at tinyurl.com/fidfconcert or by calling (858) 926-3210.