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StandWithUs’ “Festival Of Lights” Honors Debbie And Naty Saidoff, Students Leading Anti-BDS Movement Efforts

From left: Jerry Rothstein, co-founder and COO, StandWithUs; Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs; guest speaker Miri Eisin; emcee Elon Gold; honorees Debbie and Naty Saidoff; keynote speaker Mark Yudof and StandWithUs President Esther Renzer. Jonah Light Photography

Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 – 4:26 PM

Residents Debbie and Naty Saidoff were honored by Israel education organization StandWithUs, at the organization’s 15th  anniversary “Festival of Lights” earlier this month at the Beverly Hilton.

This year StandWithUs honored international philanthropists and board members, Debbie and Naty Saidoff, who announced a $12 million commitment  to StandWithUs, to be paid over the next 10 years.  The Saidoffs are ardent supporters of Israel and have sponsored SWU’s work since its inception.  Together with StandWithUs board members Ellie and Bruce Lederman, the Saidoff’s have underwritten every “Festival of Lights” gala for over a decade, so that all funds raised could be put into StandWithUs programming around the world.  SWU’s newest initiative, the Saidoff Legal Department  has already helped  hundreds of students, faculty and community members stand up for their rights on campuses and beyond. 

Michael Dickson, director StandWithUs-Israel, surprised the audience introducing seven American firefighters who dropped everything at a moment’s notice and flew to Israel last month to help combat raging forest fires.

A new video by Melissa Manchester, produced in partnership with SWU—Let There Be More Light, a song she wrote about Hanukkah, was previewed. 

StandWithUs’ High School Internship and college Emerson Fellowship received special attention. Sarah Tagger, formerly a SWU Emerson Fellow praised the organization for helping her defeat anti-Israel divestment campaigns for three years at her alma mater, UC Santa Barbara. 

Keynote speaker was Mark Yudof, formerly president of the University of California, and now chair of the advisory board of the Academic Engagement Network, a faculty organization opposing the boycott movement against Israel.

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