Judy Karp, Women of Valor co-chair, Paula Lebowitz, FIDF director Michigan Chapter, Bluma Schechter, 2021 Women of Valor honoree, and Karen Weiss, co-chair.
Judy Karp, Women of Valor co-chair, Paula Lebowitz, FIDF director Michigan Chapter, Bluma Schechter, 2021 Women of Valor honoree, and Karen Weiss, co-chair. (Ron Lieberman, Lieberman Photography, courtesy of FIDF.)

More than 300 women attend event in West Bloomfield.

More than 300 women gathered Aug. 4 for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Michigan Women of Valor Luncheon at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. 

The event, co-chaired by Judy Karp and Karen Weiss, raised over $250,000 to support the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship program. These four-year scholarships are given to former combat soldiers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, enabling them to achieve their dreams of higher education. The program also provides funds to cover soldiers’ living expenses while they study and gives them the unique benefit of direct contact with their FIDF sponsors. 

Yuval Nifousy, Impact Scholarship student, Bluma Schechter, guest speaker Shir Peled and Paula Lebowitz.
Yuval Nifousy, Impact Scholarship student, Bluma Schechter, guest speaker Shir Peled and Paula Lebowitz. Ron Lieberman, Lieberman Photography, courtesy of FIDF

“FIDF Michigan community IMPACT! donors have supported 227 IDF veterans through college for the 2020-2021 year,” said FIDF Michigan Director Paula Lebowitz. “We are so grateful to those who support this important program, which helps Israeli combat veterans — who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education — attend university and continue contributing to Israel’s future even after completing their military service.”

The event’s honoree, Bluma Schechter, an active leader and volunteer in the Detroit community has sponsored many students in the program including Sgt. (Res.) Yuval Nifousy, 27, who served in Israeli Combat Intelligence Collection Corps and studies psychology at the Academic College of Tel Aviv.

Greg Shechter, Ryan Zimmerman, Sammie Schechter, Greg Schechter, Marc Schechter; bottom, Julia Schechter, Bluma Schechter, Rachel Schechter and Susie Schechter.
Greg Shechter, Ryan Zimmerman, Sammie Schechter, Greg Schechter, Marc Schechter; bottom, Julia Schechter, Bluma Schechter, Rachel Schechter and Susie Schechter. Ron Lieberman, Lieberman Photography, courtesy of FIDF.

“Dear Mrs. Schechter, thank you for the huge opportunity you have given me to graduate with a psychology degree. The IMPACT! scholarship has changed my life. Not only my life, but the lives of so many others like me. You are transforming the future of Israel!” said Nifousy at the event.

“Being here today, I am so proud and honored to be surrounded by such powerful, hardworking women. You are all an inspiration to me. I could not start my degree without you, or even have the ability to focus on my growth and education with the financial burden of college.”

The benefit featured a keynote speech from Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Shir Peled, the first woman to serve as an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) combat soldier in an Israeli counter-terrorism unit. Peled’s service in the IDF inspired the role of Nurit in the Netflix hit Fauda, played by actress Rona-Lee Shimon.

Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Shir Peled speaking at the event.
Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Shir Peled speaking at the event. Ron Lieberman, Lieberman Photography, courtesy of FIDF.

Since its inception in 2002, FIDF has provided 15,884 four-year financial need-based scholarships, each of which costs $16,000, to Israeli combat veterans. During the 2020-2021 academic year, FIDF’s IMPACT! Scholarship Program granted 4,256 scholarships to deserving individuals and is one of FIDF’s flagship and most successful programs. 

The power of the FIDF IMPACT! Program resonates far beyond the individual, as each scholarship recipient is required to give back to his or her community by completing 130 volunteer hours during each year of study. All funds raised at the luncheon go toward supporting the scholarship program. 

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