NEW YORK – Not a white shoe nor a white belt buckle was in sight at the New York Real Estate Division of Friends of the IDF’s second annual golf tournament at Glen Oaks Country Club in Old Westbury, New York, on Monday evening.
With Labor Day having fallen a week earlier, and with this being a country club crowd, it would have hardly been appropriate to wear white.
Instead, well-tailored suits, colorful and patterned golf attire and slick Mitt Romneystyle haircuts adorned the mostly male attendees.
The New York Real Estate Division, one of the younger branches of the FIDF, managed to draw 160 golfers and 200 dinner guests to the tournament, which lasted all day on the perfectly manicured and sunny golf green out on Long Island. The evening culminated with a live auction of luxury items, such as a swimming lesson with Ryan Lochte (yes, that Ryan Lochte – the 11-time Olympic medalist), which sold for $1,200, an evening with Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera ($2,000) and two day passes to the Masters golf championship in April ($5,000).
In total, this year’s event raised $270,000 for the FIDF; last year it raised $250,000.
Retired major-general Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon, CEO and national director of the FIDF, called the gathered real estate professionals a “special community,” which “understand[ s] the challenges facing the free world.” He observed, in apparent amazement, the large number of people who had chosen to spend their time at a country club with the FIDF on an evening when they could have been watching the final round of the US open tennis tournament.
“The FIDF is a bridge between Jews and non-Jews who believe in Israel,” Gershon said.
Indeed, there was barely a yarmulke to be seen at the after-golf reception, and a large portion of the evening’s attendees, including a group of real estate moguls from Dallas, Texas, were not Jewish.
One very significant yarmulke was worn by a young IDF corporal, in uniform, named Max, originally from Great Neck, Long Island. Max said he was raised in a very Zionist household and that it first occurred to him at age 13 to join the Israeli army. He serves with the Golani Brigade and has just completed the commander’s course.
“This is my second time back home since joining,” he said.
He was able to take this trip, he said, thanks to the FIDF.
Other uniformed individuals who attended included Sharon Malka, who had just finished her service and received an academic scholarship from the FIDF, and Danielle Dori, a current lieutenant who gave a small speech thanking the FIDF for donating a synagogue and a sports gymnasium to her base near Gaza.
Gershon and Ofer Yardeni, chairman of the Real Estate Division, delivered emotional speeches; both, at times, were on the verge of tears, saying how much the IDF means to them and expressing appreciation for the support given that evening.
Each of those present was there “because you believe that the state and the soldiers of Israel are important,” Yardeni said. “As much as the soldiers are doing work there, we support them here.”