Haim Saban Helps Raise $31M to Support Israeli Defense Forces

Justin Kenderes
Haim Saban and Mark Wahlberg at Thursday night's event.

The media mogul and his wife Cheryl chaired the annual Beverly Hilton event, which drew large donations from Casey and Laura Wasserman, Guess founders Maurice and Paul Marciano and Serge Azria.

A star-studded gala at the Beverly Hilton raised $31 million dollars to support the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), which provides educational and social services to the men and women servicing in the Jewish State’s armed forces.

For the ninth consecutive year, media mogul Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl chaired the Thursday night event and also made 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, "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."

The gala’s largest donation, $8.4 million, came from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Serge Azria, CEO of Vernon-based fashion powerhouse Dutch LLC also contributed $5 million. Maurice and Paul Marciano, the founders of Guess, gave $2.5 million, while sports agent Casey Wasserman and wife Laura gave $2.1 million.

"We’re excited and proud to take part in this noteworthy event, to join in celebrating the courageous soldiers of Israel," the Wassermans said in a statement. "The mission of FIDF — providing well-being and educational programs to IDF soldiers — is invaluable to us as a society that cares for its younger generation and recognizes the soldiers’ sacrifices."

Among the celebrities and industry execs attending the event were Mark Wahlberg, Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas, Liev Schreiber, Jason Segel and Steve Tisch. The sold-out crowd of 1,200 was entertained by David Foster & Friends, the Beach Boys and Asanda Jezile.

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