The ballroom of the Beverly Hilton was flush with pride at Thursday’s Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Gala, where billionaire media mogul and fundraising juggernaut Haim Saban inspired some of the biggest names in Hollywood and in the business sector to donate a record-breaking $33 million to the non-profit organization, which provides educational, social, cultural, and economic services for Israel’s soldiers and the families of fallen soldiers.
Barbra Streisand, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Avi Lerner, Pamela Anderson, Ben Silverman and Chris Tucker were among the 1,200 guests at the star-studded fete, which featured a gourmet three-course kosher dinner, spirited musical performances by David Foster, Canadian quartet the Tenors and Ricky Martin, and an emotional reunion between American and Israeli vets brought together through Heroes to Heroes, a philanthropic foundation that funds trips for U.S. soldiers to Israel to help them heal from the devastating effects of war. Evie and Stuart Steinberg, the parents of Max Steinberg, a Golani Brigade soldier from Los Angeles who was killed in the line of duty in Gaza this past summer, were also in attendance to lend their vocal and financial support.
“Year after year we are powerfully moved by their example,” Saban said of the heroic soldiers in the crowd. “Their example reminds us that what matters most is not what you have, but what you give.”
To wit, Oracle’s Larry Ellison donated $9 million and Guess founders Paul and Maurice Marciano donated $5.2 million during the fundraising portion of the event.
“In my mind, there is no greater honor than supporting some of the bravest people in the world,” said Ellison, “and I thank FIDF for providing us with this opportunity year after year to celebrate and support these soldiers. These men and women come together with indefatigable purpose, to defend Israel and strive to co-exist in peace.”
“This event is always one of the most inspiring and emotional evenings of the year,” said Streisand.