For more than 10 years, Moussa Shaaya has been at the heart of the IAF Center Foundation’s work as a Board Member and passionate champion in the community. His dedication, generosity, and tireless work has enabled the Foundation to reach new heights of success in raising funds and awareness about our cause.
Born in Iran, Moussa and his family know personally how important it is to have a Jewish state. “I moved to L.A. when I was 30 years old, at the time of the Iranian Revolution, when in a moment, our freedom was gone and we were persecuted. Things we had taken for granted disappeared overnight, and we encountered a frightening reality. This made me realize the importance of Israel – it is the spine of Jewish people, and it will always be our home.”
One of the most interesting aspects of Israel, to Moussa, was its air force. “I have always been intrigued by the air power of Israel and have always wanted to support this dynamic force,” says Moussa. And when he says “always,” he really means it – the first time Moussa visited Israel was with his family, in 1957, and he was eight-years old. Israel had just won the 1956 War in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and Moussa’s family was able to view the captured equipment of the enemy on display. “It was incredible,” recalls Moussa. “My cousin was in the IDF at the time, and he told me, ‘This is what air power does.’ So at age eight I got the message. Sixty years later, I can proudly state my support of Israel is in full gear because of that.”
A little more than 10 years ago, Moussa had the opportunity to support the IAF as he’d always dreamed, through the IAFCF. “I began my involvement in the Foundation by helping veterans and bereaved families, because I could not fathom that they had more than 1200 widows and orphans who were in constant need of support. It is critically important to send a message that they are not alone.”
As Moussa’s connection with the IAFCF grew, he became involved with the organization’s youth leadership programs, which teach the principles of national service, the ideals of Zionism, and the tangible skills to lead. Moussa explains the importance of programs like this: “The youth in Israel are truly in need of support and education, and the Center takes them all – young cadets, minorities – and engages them in a way that prepares them for future service. The Center’s work also prepares them for leadership positions, which has a direct affect on promoting Israel’s position in the region. So it was very clear to me that investing in this program is in our best interest, because it invests in Israeli society and the future of Israel. The youth that we help are the ones who protect the sky of Israel, and bring peace to the land of Israel.”
Another reason for his dedication, Moussa says, is that he has seen firsthand how much benefit it brings to the Jewish state, on all his trips to Israel. “I have been on four IAFCF missions, and every time at the Center I see young people interacting, learning and growing,” says Moussa. “It’s fantastic – the Center is contributing A LOT to the society. And I invite anyone who hasn’t been to the Center or on a Mission to come and see it for themselves!”
If you ask Moussa what his favorite thing to see in Israel is, though, he won’t say airplanes. “The oceans are the best in the world!” he exclaims. “I’ve been to many countries and nothing comes close to the beaches of Tel Aviv.”
He adds, “The best thing about Israel is its people. As I walk in the streets there, I feel very in tune with the population, and I sense the true freedom of this remarkable country.”