Gerard Butler, Gene Simmons, and Pee Wee Herman help raise $53.8 million for the IDF

Gerard Butler (center) with IDF Staff Sgt. Nathan (left) and IDF Staff Sgt. Maor (right) (Photo credit: Alexi Rosenfeld)

And I remember when I was shocked when Friends of the IDF raised $8.8 million in Chicago and $20 million fours years ago in L.A. That was nuthin’.

From a Friends of the IDF press release:

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) raised a record $53.8 million at its annual Western Region Gala on Thursday, Nov. 2, at the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel. The figure represents the most money raised at any single FIDF event in the organization’s history. The sold-out gala, which has become one of Los Angeles’ premier charitable events, united some 1,200 supporters from across the country to support the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

For the 11th year, FIDF National Board Member and major supporter Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala. Guests included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and celebrated names in entertainment, fashion, sports, and technology, including Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; Dutch LLC CEO Serge Azria and his wife, Florence; Managing Member of R.H. Book LLC and Chairman of Jet Support Services Inc. Robert Book and his wife, Amy; Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz; GUESS Founders Maurice and Paul Marciano; and Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his wife, Joelle. Celebrity guests included Miss Israel 2013 Yityish Titi Aynaw, Gerard Butler, David Foster, Joanna Krupa, Katharine McPhee, Paul Reubens, Melissa Rivers, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Turns out Pee Wee Herman (a.k.a. Paul Reubens) has a connection to the Israeli military.

The big donor of the night was Oracle Co-Founder Larry Ellison who donated $16.6 million, which FIDF says is the largest single gift in the organization’s history. Ellison explained his donation thusly: “For 2,000 years, we were a stateless people, but now, we have a country we can call our own. Through all of the perilous times since Israel’s founding, we have called on the brave men and women of the IDF to defend our home.”

The event featured special performances by singer Seal, The Tenors, David Foster & Friends, and Gene Simmons, from KISS.

Gene Simmons performing at last night’s FIDF Western Region Gala (Photo credit: Shahar Azran)