By Deb Silverthorn
What was planned as a celebratory gala is now a solidarity dinner, as current events bring the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces North Texas chapter to an intensified spirit emphasizing the need for its mission. The Dec. 6 event, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Frontiers of Flight Museum and catered by A Taste of the World, will feature author, television personality and columnist Meghan McCain. Guests will honor the men and women whose lives are on the line, defending Israel.
“The needs were there when we began to plan this special evening. Now, the need is critical,” said Janine Reutter, director of the FIDF North Texas chapter, which also includes donors from Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
“We are providing everything from plasma and medical supplies to ambulances. We are in constant contact with the logistics branch of the IDF, and we’re turning requests around the same day,” Reutter said of the FIDF.
The FIDF is the only organization designated by the IDF in the United States to collect donations for its soldiers. It supplies support to families whose main breadwinners are now on the front lines. In addition, it provides moral support, programming and post-traumatic stress disorder assistance for wounded soldiers and bereaved family members.
“The economy in Israel has come to a standstill,” said Reutter. “Hundreds of soldiers have been killed and thousands of families are suffering. There isn’t anyone in Israel who hasn’t been to a funeral, whose heart isn’t broken.”
Ynette and Jim Hogue, the night’s honorary chairs, stand strong together in their support of the FIDF and the soldiers they respect whose lives are on the line.
“We support FIDF for the unique and wonderful service which it provides to IDF soldiers,” said Ynette. “At this critical time, when the need is so great, we are honored to be part of this event.”
Jim implores that “it is urgent that we raise awareness, as well as funds, to provide the necessary support in this fight to protect the Jewish homeland.”
Mahra and Kevin Pailet, members of congregations Anshai Torah and Shearith Israel as well as DATA of Plano, were in Israel this summer with their children. Kevin was to be there this month leading a mission of the Republican freshman class. Instead, they are continuing their efforts stateside. Mahra is women’s campaign chair of the Women’s Philanthropy Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
“The IDF is important to Israel; it is important to the world. We can’t underestimate the importance of the stability of the IDF, on guard for the whole region, 24/7, never stopping,” said Mahra. “There is a delicate world order in a most volatile space and if we can’t be there in person, we must do whatever we can.”
Kevin, who serves on the national board of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, says that “our connection to Israel is built in our DNA. When the plane lands there, a weight is lifted off of our shoulders — a weight we don’t even realize we carry until we are there.”
Honoring their daughter, Tia, and their homeland are Shuly Einhorn, a Sabra, and her husband, Craig, who in 1989 spent time in Israel as a volunteer and then a resident for many years. The couple are chairs of the Dec. 6 event.
Tia, born in Israel, moved to the United States as a child. She is a former Fannie Sablosky B’nai B’rith Youth Organization member; she graduated in 2020 from Akiba Yavneh Academy. Tia finished her lone soldier service, officially made aliyah the day before Simchat Torah and was to begin college studies at Reichman University in Herzliya this month; instead she is moving supplies and donations to soldiers wherever needed.
“It’s no coincidence I dropped my whole life plan to make aliyah and draft as a lone soldier. I am so thankful that my parents are leading this effort through the FIDF. Their love and support for Israel is seen in everything they do,” said Tia.
After collecting more than $4,500 and countless items in just 24 hours by reaching out to friends in Israel, in the U.S. and from her Nativ College Leadership Program gap year in Israel, Tia and her friends drove to training bases in the south to deliver the items. They bought whatever they could find —socks, portable chargers, knee pads, vests and food. For security, Tia’s friends who carry weapons made the deliveries closer to the Gaza Strip.
“Americans are going above and beyond with their support,” said Tia. “I get texts daily from people in America asking me how they can help more. The soldiers need everything because they didn’t expect to be called up for so long. No one knew, no one knows, how long they’ll be away from home.”
Tia adds that reaching out by text or calls to anyone with friends and family in Israel is important; connections from home help them stay strong “during what looks to be a long-lasting war.”
She added, “While money is always great, honestly, it’s most important to focus on redirecting dialogue. I’m hearing from my friends on college campuses in the States and it breaks my heart. American Jews need to work hard to shed light on the tragedy that occurred and is still occurring, so people know the truth. It’s indescribable what is going on here in Israel. It’s a country at a loss for words. Within hours, this country came together, with everyone doing whatever they can to build each other up. Although we are at war, I have never been prouder to be in the Jewish homeland.”
Shuly said, “FIDF is not an invisible organization. They are present, they are there and they are touching the lives of individual soldiers. You know your dollars are instantly making a difference. When you give today, what matters is in their hands tomorrow.”
For more details, to register or to donate, visit fidf.org/ntdinner.