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American Friends of NATAL Hosts a Night of Hope and Strength at NYC Gala Supporting Trauma and PTSD Recovery in Israel

VIPs on Red Carpet

American Friends of NATAL. Emi Palmor, Jude Yovel Recanati, Ofer Yardeni, David Kostman, Sara Rubenstein. Photo: Nicolette Richards/Ambassador Images

Red carpet group photo

American Friends of NATAL. Pastor Chris Harris, Sara Rubenstein, Maayan Aviv, Ran Eliasaf, Efrat Shaprut. Photo: Nicolette Richards/Ambassador Images

speaker at event

Yuli Reiter delivered a heart-wrenching recount of the terrorist attack at the Nova Festival. PHOTO: Juan Carlos Ariano

American Friends of NATAL, an organization dedicated to trauma preparedness and recovery, hosted a deeply moving gala focused on hope and healing.

NEW YORK, NY, USA, December 1, 2023 / -- American Friends of NATAL (, an organization dedicated to trauma preparedness and recovery, hosted a deeply moving gala focused on hope and healing honoring Ofer Yardeni, Chairman and CEO of Stonehenge NYC and Dr. Itamar Barnea, NATAL's Chief Psychologist. Hosted by tv correspondent and producer, Natalie Serraf-Shiro, over 450 guests united in their support for the critical work undertaken by NATAL. Among the evening's highlights were profoundly moving speeches, including the compelling testimony of Yuli Reiter, a 22 year old survivor of the Nova Festival on October 7, 2023.

“This event was originally planned as a celebration of 75 years of the State of Israel, to reflect on the impact NATAL has made in helping those with trauma and PTSD, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. All of that changed after October 7th,” said David Kostman, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of American Friends of NATAL. “Tonight we gather to support Israel and NATAL as it continues to be a beacon of hope for a better life for the millions of people who need to be helped through the power of healing.”

Yuli Reiter Recounts Harrowing Survival from Nova Festival Terrorist Attack

Yuli Reiter delivered a heart-wrenching recount of the terrorist attack at the Nova Festival. Amidst the chaos and horrors of that fateful day, Yuli lost the love of her life, Adir Mesika, along with several close friends. Her tale of survival was harrowing as she described how Adir ran, barehanded, to fight the terrorists while she was able to escape death by hiding in complete silence in an open bomb shelter For over eight grueling hours, Yuli remained hidden, fighting for her life in the most dire of circumstances. Adding to the emotional weight of her story, the family of Adir Mesika was present at the gala, standing in solidarity with Yuli as she bravely shared her ordeal.

Honoree Dr. Itamar Barnea Shares Story from POW to Leading NATAL's Trauma Care

Honored with the 2023 Humanitarian Award, Dr. Itamar Barnea, NATAL's Chief Psychologist, was notably absent due to his commitment to helping families of the hostages and those who have returned by training teams of mental health professionals. Dr. Barnea's presence was felt through a taped interview with Israeli journalist, Omri Assenheim, where he shared his personal journey and impact of traumatic experiences. Drawing from his unique perspective as a former POW in Syria during the Yom Kippur War while serving as a combat pilot, he highlighted the crucial work of NATAL in rebuilding lives affected by trauma. His story shed light on the complexities of psychological trauma and underscored the importance of NATAL's mission in fostering recovery and resilience. The award was accepted on behalf of Dr. Barnea by Ran Eliasaf, American Friends of NATAL Board Member, a retired Captain of the Israeli Navy, and Founder and Managing Partner of Northwind Group.

2023 Impact Award Honoree Ofer Yardeni Advocates for IDF Mental Health and PTSD Support

The 2023 Impact Award was presented to Ofer Yardeni, the founder and force behind Stonehenge NYC, a major player in Manhattan's real estate scene with a portfolio of 23 residential apartment buildings encompassing over 3,000 units. Yardeni, who has impressively acquired over $4 billion in real estate in Manhattan, extends his remarkable acumen to philanthropy, especially in supporting the mental wellbeing of IDF soldiers. His personal understanding of PTSD, stemming from his service in the IDF, has led him to recognize NATAL as the key organization for addressing the mental health needs of soldiers post-combat. Yardeni's dedication to this cause goes beyond financial support. It is a reflection of his empathy and strong belief in the necessity of NATAL’s work. The award was presented by NATAL's co-Founder and Chairperson, Jude Yovel Recanati.

Speakers Highlight NATAL's Vital Role in Addressing Unprecedented Need for Mental Health Services

The event began with the Star-Spangled Banner, gracefully sung by Yulia Beeri and Isaac DaBom, followed by a heartfelt rendition of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva (“The Hope”) impressively delivered by Pastor Chris Harris, leader of the Bright Star Church.

Introduced by Marty Burger, the former Chief Executive Officer of Silverstein Properties, Sara Rubenstein, Gala Chair and esteemed member of the American Friends of NATAL (AFN) Board of Directors, alongside Maayan Aviv, NATAL’s Executive Director, took the stage to shed light on the impactful work of NATAL. They emphasized the organization's unwavering dedication to providing mental health services, particularly highlighting the increasing need after the October 7th terrorist attacks. Emi Palmor, Chair of NATAL, former Director General of the Ministry of Justice, and a current member of the Facebook Oversight Committee, shared her insights. Palmor's diverse experience, ranging from her influential role in justice to her involvement in global online governance, brought a broader perspective on the importance of mental health initiatives and the complex emotions Israelis and Jews around the world are feeling.

Grateful for Event Sponsors

Generous support came from Platinum sponsors Ran and Isabelle Eliasaf of the Northwind Group, and Ofer Yardeni from Stonehenge NYC. On the Silver tier, the event was fortunate to have the backing of Polsinelli, a notable law firm, and Greenberg Traurig, LLP, another prominent legal powerhouse. City Parking, known for its urban parking solutions, also joined as a Silver sponsor, as did Lauren Schor and Martin Geller.

About American Friends of NATAL

American Friends of NATAL’s (AFN) supports the Israeli based NATAL that provides vital assistance to Israelis suffering from trauma primarily due to terrorism and war. AFN engages in innovative collaborations, partnering with US organizations who seek NATAL’s expertise in the field of trauma preparedness and recovery. Overnight, 9.7 million Israelis need NATAL's help and support. The national lifeline, NATAL's Helpline, experienced a massive increase in calls, serving more than 5,000 calls daily, requiring many more volunteers and staff than have ever been asked to field. NATAL urgently needs emergency support to: expand clinical services, recruit and train additional volunteers, and provide emergency psychological assistance.

Nataly Blumberg
NB Communications
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