FIDF family events
Photo: Courtesy FIDF/North Texas Chapter 
More than 100 participants shared in last year’s FIDF first annual Young Families Picnic. 

Cowboys Watch Party & Young Families’ Picnic

By Deb Silverthorn

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) will host two family-friendly events in the next month.

The youngest members of the community and their families are invited to the Cowboys vs. Chargers Watch Party beginning at 6:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at The Frisco Star. The Annual Young Families Picnic will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, featuring arts and crafts, games, a bubble truck and more. 

“Having personally lived through the horrors of the Holocaust, our founders knew that without a strong Israel, ‘never again’ might not mean never again,” said Janine Reutter, director of the FIDF North Texas chapter, which also includes donors from Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. She added, “Jews being persecuted around the world need the safety net that a Jewish state provides.

Since its founding in 2019, the local chapter has raised $5 million to support the FIDF. FIDF North Texas Chapter members believe there isn’t any age too young to begin instilling a love of Israel.

“My father and so many members of my family served in different branches of the IDF and I have always admired the soldiers. I remember being a kid, visiting Israel every summer and seeing the soldiers on buses or on the sidewalks always looking strong but also so friendly,” said Dani Golan, who is co-chairing the Nov. 5 picnic with his wife Melissa and Mandi and Chad Albert.

“The organization supports soldiers by helping them cope with stress, with living accommodations, with whatever they need to be better soldiers,” said Golan. His children Evie, Aiden and Ezra, ages 7, 5 and 2, are already learning to support our people’s homeland. “It’s important we share this respect with our kids and that they learn and care, even as little as they are. The picnic is a stepping stone to caring and I hope they’ll grow up and always want to help others.”

FIDF’s purpose is to champion the courageous men and women of the IDF and care for their needs through transformational opportunities and support as they protect and defend the state of Israel and its people. Its vision is to secure the survival of Israel as a thriving homeland for Jews worldwide and to transform the lives of the young men and women of the IDF through empowering educational, financial, well-being and cultural initiatives.

In addition to numerous activities, with kosher ice creams and other snacks provided, at the picnic children and their parents will have the opportunity to meet with an IDF soldier and write letters to be sent to soldiers in Israel. This will foster their shared compassion and dedication for those who serve in the IDF.

The Alberts also co-chaired the 2022 event, which hosted more than 60 families, with nearly 100 advocates supporting the IDF through an afternoon of fun and activities.

“My husband’s love of Israel began when he went on Birthright, where he became close to many soldiers. Since then, we both have developed an affinity toward causes related to Israel and the IDF,” said Mandi, whose children Blakely, Palmer and Millie are 5, nearly 3 and 1. “The FIDF allows us the philanthropic opportunity to be intimately involved in providing a college education for an IDF soldier whose family would not have been able to afford it otherwise.

“Through the picnic and the relationships built with IDF soldiers, we hope to spark our kids’ desire to support Israel and the IDF in the years to come!”

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, the only organization in the U.S. authorized to collect charitable donations on behalf of IDF soldiers, is a nonpolitical, nonmilitary organization that provides for the well-being of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, veterans and their family members.

Established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors, the not-for-profit corporation has 26 regional offices throughout the U.S.; the Dallas office was established in 2019. In addition to the upcoming family events, FIDF North Texas will host a 75 Years of Courage North Texas Gala Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum.

“As we get further away from the Holocaust, it becomes more and more important to teach our children why Israel must exist and to have them understand the reasons to support her soldiers,” said Reutter. “At our events we hope to engage our children with soldiers and stories of their experiences, creating relationships and memories of these true-life heroes.”

For the picnic location or to learn about other FIDF North Texas Chapter events, visit or email

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