(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) More than 1,000 leading members of the Israeli community in the U.S. attended the seventh annual Israeli-American Council (IAC) gala in Los Angeles on March 8. The event raised $23.5 million for the IAC's various programs, including a $12 million donation from philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. Businessman Haim Saban donated $1.2 million.
The past year marked significant growth for the activity of the Israeli community in America. The IAC, initially founded in Los Angeles, launched five new branches—in New York, Miami, Boston, Las Vegas, and New Jersey. The organization also held its first-ever national conference, drawing big-name speakers such as former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman.
Sagi Balasha, CEO of the IAC, said, "Our growth process in the U.S. began exactly one year ago. We knew that we were embarking on an adventure, but we didn't know how quickly we would succeed in recruiting American-Israeli communities across the country to join our journey."
IAC National Chairman Shawn Evenhaim announced that the IAC plans to build a new American-Israeli community center in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Roz and Jerry Rothstein, founders of the pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs, were honored at the IAC gala.
"There is something we can learn from our enemies—they are unified. We need to be much more unified. We should not focus on the 20 percent we don't agree on, we need to focus on the 80 percent that we all agree on," said Roz Rothstein.
The IAC serves an estimated population of 750,000 Israelis currently living in the U.S., with the goal of forging a united and involved Israeli-American community and becoming a center of support for Israel. The organization hosts numerous events for different age groups and supports other community organizations.
Meanwhile, another Israel-focused organization—Friends of the Israel Defense Forces—announced that it raised $24 million during its March 10 gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Some 1,200 guests from around the U.S., Panama, and Israel, including representatives of the IDF, attended the formal ceremony. A delegation of 30 soldiers and commanders from the military's combat units were also at the event.