Asked to speak at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces gala dinner in San Francisco on Oct. 11, Dvorah Feder was more than happy to oblige.
After all, her 20-year-old son, Havneh Feder-Haugabook, is one of approximately 3,000 young men and women from the diaspora currently serving as soldiers in the Israeli military.
“Being the mother of a lone soldier is a mix of nachas [pride], tons of longing for him and constant anxiety,” the San Francisco widow told an audience of 450 at the Palace Hotel.
Feder’s presentation included a video of her son talking from Israel about how he enlisted in the elite Givati Brigade two years ago, shortly after his father and older sister died. “I was leaving my mom and younger sister at home,” Havneh, in uniform, said in the video. “It became much more of a personal sacrifice for me.”
After the video and speech ended, emcee John Rothmann, himself the parent of a lone soldier, asked Feder to remain onstage — at which point Havneh, dressed in his IDF uniform, bounded up to the podium and gave his surprised mom a hug. And told her how much he loved her.
Crowd members applauded and immediately rose to their feet.
“It felt so good to reunite mother and son,” said Jonathan Bernstein, executive director of the FIDF’s San Francisco chapter, “and with a loud, unified voice demonstrate how much we all appreciate both of them.”
Established in 1981, Friends of the IDF raises money to support lone soldiers, wounded veterans and a scholarship program. — j. staff