Englewood shul hosts FIDF Shabbaton
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Englewood shul hosts FIDF Shabbaton

James Schwalbe, left, with Elias Marcovici, East Hill Synagogue president Jonathan Thurm, Rabbi Zev Reichman, FIDF NJ director Howard Gases, Corporal Anna, FIDF CEO Steve Weil, and Howard Shafer. (Courtesy FIDF)
James Schwalbe, left, with Elias Marcovici, East Hill Synagogue president Jonathan Thurm, Rabbi Zev Reichman, FIDF NJ director Howard Gases, Corporal Anna, FIDF CEO Steve Weil, and Howard Shafer. (Courtesy FIDF)

More than 400 local Israel Defense Forces supporters came out to a celebratory Shabbaton, called “The IDF: Shaping the Future of Israel,” to hear from and honor a pair of active IDF soldiers. It was hosted by the East Hill Synagogue in Englewood. Guests honored the soldiers as they spoke about the FIDF support to the state of Israel and to the soldiers. The children of three EHS families are lone soldiers in the IDF.

“We were pleased to host FIDF and members of the IDF for Shabbat,” East Hill’s rabbi, Zev Reichman, said. “Our shul is full of love and admiration for these brave young men and women who put their lives on the line for Medinat Yisrael, the highest possible expression of their love for Jewish people around the world.”

The speakers included Corporal Anna, an IDF lone soldier from Highland Park. (The FIDF does not use soldier’s family names, identifying them only by their first names, or even more sparingly with the initial of their first names.) She is a combat medic in the Sky Runner unit, a special UAV unit of the Artillery Corps. Before joining the IDF, she encountered antisemitism in the United States many times, she said. Feeling that Israel was her true home, she left her family and friends and joined the Artillery Corps, following in her father’s footsteps. Sergeant First Class M, a former member of Shayetet 13, Israel’s elite Navy seal unit, who described his experience neutralizing threats to Israel. Sergeant M now serves in the elite Oketz unit, which trains dogs to assist soldiers in combat situations and rescue operations.

On Shabbat, FIDF’s CEO, Steve Weil, gave two talks as well as a two-part shiur on the history of Eastern European Jews. “It is an honor for FIDF to partner with the East Hill Synagogue in building the future of the Jewish world and the future of Israel,” he said. “The love and support that the East Hill community has given to these young men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to defend Israel and the Jewish world has been overwhelming. We appreciate the emotional, financial and moral support that the East Hill Synagogue invests towards the education and welfare of the soldiers.”

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