FIDF receives $900K for military dogs
Photo: Courtesy of FIDF
Alon Even, vice president Israel Operations, in the FIDF Israel office, with the sign honoring the supporters

Two of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) North Texas Chapter’s largest donors, Ari Susman and Gigi Gartner, who also happen to be related to each other, have recently reached a milestone donation of a combined $900,000 over three years to support the needs of all active-duty dogs of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including those with the search-and-rescue and border patrol.
Recently, Gartner and Susman participated in a virtual video tour of the Oketz base and learned about canine soldiers’ training after Susman agreed to match Gartner up to $450,000 over the next three years.
FIDF North Texas Chapter Director Kathi Ravkind Sebastian has been working on this initiative since Gartner, who rescues German shepherds, and Susman, a dog lover, expressed their interest in adopting the IDF’s Oketz canine unit after the first North Texas parlor meeting in 2019. A donor supporting the wellbeing of the dogs of the IDF was impossible at that time.
Gartner’s mother and Susman’s ex-mother-in-law were two of the three Frankfort sisters who in the Dallas depression established Page Boy Maternity, the first fashion maternity-clothing manufacturer in the United States. As a company, Page Boy thrived until the end of the twentieth century, leaving a rich legacy in the histories of fashion and women in business.
Both Susman and Gartner are well-respected philanthropists for Jewish causes and have a strong love for Israel. In the past year, Susman provided the funding for the renovation of a gym for the soldiers of the Shayetet 13 unit, the most elite navy unit in the IDF, similar to the Navy Seals. Gartner supports FIDF’s IMPACT! scholarship program, a unique FIDF initiative that offers four-year scholarships to former IDF combat soldiers from disadvantaged, low-income families. Prior to the pandemic, Susman and Gartner’s contributions helped the North Texas FIDF chapter raise close to three-quarters of a million dollars in just six months. Their commitment to giving, even during the pandemic, allowed for the chapter’s continued fundraising success.
“If donors like Ari and Gigi can step up in the most difficult of times, then our chapter owes it to them to not give up on the projects they find important,” said FIDF North Texas Chapter Board Chair Yoram Avneri. “We are thankful for FIDF CEO Steve Weil’s help in making this initiative a reality.”
“I’m from a family that steps up in bad times and in good. Those less fortunate, if given the right opportunity, are enormously capable of excellence,” said Gartner. “Creating a legacy for our shared family history of impacting groundbreaking initiatives is a no-brainer. My mom would be proud, especially since this has never been done before. But above all, the importance of family was my mom’s highest priority and I’m honored to follow in her footsteps.”
After the family’s three-year commitment ends, Gartner would like to adopt one of the dogs on the base.
“An IDF dog has never been adopted by a donor,” said Ravkind Sebastian. “But knowing this family, anything is possible!”
As of April 15, the chapter has raised close to $1.5 million for the wellbeing of the brave young men, women, and canine soldiers of the IDF. For more information on the North Texas FIDF chapter, contact Kathi Ravkind Sebastian at 214-713-4810 or

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