Highland Park’s Larry Goodman honored for aiding Israel’s military heroes

A dozen of Israel’s military heroes have been able to pursue a higher education as a result of the financial support offered by Highland Park resident Larry Goodman.

Next week, the 89-year-old philanthropist will be reunited with one of those beneficiaries, medical student Maru Gete, at the Friends of Israel Defense Forces Central Region annual dinner in Chicago. Goodman will be honored on Oct. 24 by the organization for his support of soldiers through the IMPACT! Program.

“I’m especially thrilled to get the opportunity to thank Mr. Larry Goodman for his support during my medical studies,” said Maru Gete, who has completed his course work at Ben-Gurion University and will begin his residency at a hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Originally from Ethiopia, Gete served as a combat soldier in Israel’s Golani Brigade.

Goodman currently supports six former soldiers who are studying medicine, information systems, mechanical engineering, chemistry and physical therapy. All told, he has supported a dozen soldiers through the IMPACT! program.

The recipients spend 130 hours a year volunteering for organizations that help the elderly and needy in Be’er Sheva.

The Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations have adopted the city of Be’er Sheva in the Negev region, which Goodman described as a “negative desert.”

“David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, said that if the Negev is not developed, Israel will not reach its full potential,” said Goodman. “We respected that statement and determined that if we want to help the Negev, we need to invest in Be’er Sheva. We have done many projects there so we have a presence throughout the city.”

The annual FIDF dinner, to be held at the Hilton Chicago, will bring together business and community leaders along with soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces and members of the American Armed Forces.

Friends of Israel Defense Forces was founded by Holocaust survivors to support the men and women of the Israeli military by providing educational, social, cultural and recreational opportunities and facilities.

Tickets for the dinner are available at www.fidfannualdinner.com.

Goodman, who served as U.S. Air Force navigator in World War II, founded the Community Discount Store chain in the 1940s and built the company into a 35-store chain, which he sold in the early 1960s. He moved into commercial real estate and established the Goodman Group and American Asset Management Services, which owns and operates office buildings and shopping centers in seven states.

The Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations support Jewish causes and hunger relief in the United States in addition to the work in Israel. To honor the memory of a granddaughter who died after a battle with addiction, the foundations have established the Cebrin Goodman Center to prevent drug abuse.

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