250+ attend Dallas FIDF Shabbaton at Shearith
Photo: Courtesy FIDF
From left, Josef Garcia, member of Shearith Israel and former IDF Lone Soldier; Rabbi Ari Sunshine, rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel; Gadi Ezra, former director of Public Policy and Diplomacy for the Prime Minister of Israel

Today’s IDF is a microcosm of Israel, present and future

More than 250 local Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) supporters came out in droves on March 10-11 to attend a meaningful Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Shabbaton hosted by Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas titled “Today’s IDF: A Microcosm of Israel Present and Future.”

The educational program featured Gadi Ezra, former director of Public Policy and Diplomacy for the Prime Minister of Israel, and Josef Garcia, former Lone Soldier, son-in-law of synagogue President Dr. Irving Prengler.

On Friday evening, March 10, Garcia shared reflections on his service as a Lone Soldier — what drove him to enlist in summer 2014 during Operation Protective Edge and his experience as a light machine gunner in the Golani Brigade. He discussed the challenges that came along with being away from home including “things as simple as buying food before Shabbat or taking care of laundry after 21+ days in the field.” He continued, “While most Israeli-born soldiers have families to return home to, Lone Soldiers are pretty much left to fend for themselves while on leave from the army. FIDF helped ensure that we had the necessary support, including FIDF-sponsored dinners, where we enjoyed a taste of home away from home.”

During dinner, Ezra led a discussion based on his personal experience serving in Gaza about the extraordinary lengths to which IDF soldiers go in translating morality from the law books to the battlefield. On Shabbat morning, Ezra presented the sermon “Purim: The Threats to the Jewish People Then and Now” and detailed several of the challenges Israel faces today. He engaged participants in a thought-provoking dialogue about the relationship between Israel and American Jewry and the future of Jewish peoplehood.

“It was a true pleasure addressing Congregation Shearith Israel and discussing issues related to the challenges Israel faces during wartime and the high legal and moral standards it applies. It was even a greater pleasure doing that with FIDF, whose educational and humanitarian work contributes to our social strength,” said Ezra.

Kiddush was followed by a Q&A, “We Need to Talk: An Open Discussion about Israel, the Jewish People and Us.”

“Our FIDF Shabbaton at Shearith was a huge success. We are grateful to FIDF for their important work and for making this impactful weekend possible,” said Rabbi Ari Sunshine, rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel.

According to Steve Weil, CEO of FIDF, “The FIDF Shabbaton experience brings access to incredible speakers and meaningful conversations into the heart of the congregation. We are grateful to have Rabbi Sunshine and the leadership at Shearith Israel as partners and friends who love Israel and who are committed to ensuring the social, educational and financial well-being of IDF soldiers are met.” 

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