A lavish annual Hollywood event chaired by media mogul and Jewish billionaire Haim Saban raised $31 million for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) from dozens of celebrity guests on Thursday night.
Saban and his wife Cheryl, who hosted the event for the ninth year in a row, gave one of the evening’s largest contributions of $5 million. “For the past nine years I have watched this gala grow into the preeminent charity event it is today,” said Saban, according to the Hollywood Reporter, “and I am truly humbled by the funds raised, which are a testament to the importance of the FIDF organization and its mission. The overwhelming support from the Los Angeles community continues to amaze me.”
Among the celebrities in attendance were Mark Wahlberg, Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas, Liev Schreiber, Jason Segel and Steve Tisch. The sold-out event was entertained by David Foster & Friends, the Beach Boys and Asanda Jezile.
The largest donation came from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), who gave $8.4 million for the cause of providing educational resources and social services to men and women serving in the IDF.
On the previous night, Haim Saban had hosted a private invitation-only event at his home to celebrate the recent publication of Eckstein’s biography, “The Bridge Builder”. Around 100 figures from the business, entertainment and non-profit sectors were in attendance to celebrate the book’s release.
“The Bridge Builder” is an account of Eckstein’s successful work in promoting relationships and understanding between Christians and Jews worldwide. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded by Eckstein in 1983, is the world’s largest organization of Christians and Jews actively working together to support Israel and the Jewish people.