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Solidarity Shines at 2024 FIDF Young Leadership LA Gala

The gala served as a powerful demonstration of solidarity with the thousands of IDF soldiers on the frontlines.
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April 4, 2024
Dorel M. (bottom right) and all members of his unit, including reserve soldier and Miss Israel 2021, Noa Cochva, who rejoined her unit after Oct. 7. Courtesy of Gal M.

On Saturday evening, March 9, over 800 Friends of the IDF (FIDF), young professionals and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) supporters gathered at the Alexandria Ballrooms in Downtown L.A. for the 2024 FIDF Young Leadership L.A. Gala. Just outside the historical building, which was donated by the owners, the Shomof family, there were hundreds of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel demonstrators. It was the night before the Oscar ceremony and several groups started their demonstrations early, carrying banners reading, “No awards during a genocide.”

The front glass doors were blocked with black curtains to prevent the mob outside from seeing inside. Some streets were blocked to traffic and guests were rushed by police officers into a side door of the ballroom until things quieted down. Inside the ballroom, over 800 guests gathered to show support for Israel and the brave Israeli soldiers. Among them were FIDF Young Leadership Gala committee and board members, Master Sergeants Dorel M. and Eli W., former lone soldiers from Los Angeles who immediately returned to service after Oct. 7 and IDF reservist and Nova Music Festival survivor, Yarin Levin.

Dorel, 28, was born in L.A. to Israeli parents and chose to enlist in the IDF when he turned 18. He served as a paratrooper for three years and then returned to Los Angeles, where he works in real estate. When the war broke out, he went back to Israel and joined his unit. After four months in reserve, he arranged for eight friends from his unit to come to L.A. for the gala event and to give lectures at Jewish schools around town. Gal M., Dorel’s father, took them on some hikes and showed them around town. In an interview with the Journal, he said: “Like any parent, I hardly slept during the time he was in Khan Yunis, Gaza, but I knew he did what he had to do and [I] supported him fully.”

“It goes to show that we stand with Israel and even though we are physically far away, our hearts are there.” – Dorel M.

“To see the Los Angeles community that I grew up in come together to honor the brave soldiers of the IDF is very special to me,” Dorel said. “It goes to show that we stand with Israel and even though we are physically far away, our hearts are there.” 

Eli W. and Dorel M.
Courtesy of Gal M.

He then proceeded to call all his friends from his unit to join him on stage. The young men, all dressed in matching suits, shirts and ties, jumped on stage and received a round of applause from the audience. 

When reflecting on his time serving, Eli W. remarked, “serving during this war has been an honor of a lifetime. Leaving the front lines is difficult knowing that the hostages are still there. Nevertheless, I’m so proud to take on the same mission in a different capacity. My involvement with FIDF allows me to support and celebrate my brothers and sisters still fighting in Israel with my fellow brothers and sisters in the U.S.”

The gala served as a powerful demonstration of solidarity with the thousands of IDF soldiers on the frontlines, risking their lives to restore security in Israel after the massacre on Oct. 7, and the ongoing attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah. The event provided the L.A. community with a platform to show support for Israel’s soldiers during their greatest time of need. The evening, featuring a special DJ performance by DJ Shalos,  who performed at the Nova Festival and survived the terrorist attack, was held in honor and memory of the lives tragically lost on and since Oct. 7, and served as a moving testament that “we will dance again.”

Dorel M., left, with his unit friends Courtesy of Gal M.

The black-tie event was chaired by FIDF Young Leadership board President Franky Ruzin and co-chaired by FIDF Young Leadership Executive Board Members, Leeor Braude, Chantly Geoulla, Shmuly Goldsmith, Shardae Hanookai, Gity Kogan, Yitzy Pearson, Robert Roig and Jimmy Shomof. The event MC was comedian Dan Ahdoot, an actor on Netflix’s “Cobra Kai.”

Among the speakers at the event was social media influencer, singer, songwriter, actress and dancer Montana Tucker and Noa Cochva, a reserve soldier and Miss Israel 2021 who made the decision to swap her Miss Universe Israel sash for an IDF uniform and to rejoin her unit after Oct. 7. “I’m honored to be standing here not as Miss Israel, but as a proud Israeli. My life and the lives of all Israelis after October 7, will never be the same,” she said.

Proceeds from the event will go towards lifesaving medical supplies such as ambulances, plasma, medical devices and field hospitals, as well as hygiene kits and aid for the thousands of bereaved families who are suffering the loss of a loved one. As the IDF’s official partner, FIDF is the fastest and most direct way to support IDF soldiers. The emergency campaign for Israel raised so far more than $73 million. The funds will be used by the IDF to meet their most urgent requests for its soldiers.

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