By Deb Silverthorn
When Tia Einhorn was little, she dreamed of becoming a lawyer. The 20-year-old Sabra and Dallas-raised Einhorn is now defending others, only now in the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) Air Force.
“I absolutely love where I am and what I’m doing, but it was great being home seeing friends and family, and enjoying the luxuries of sleeping in and Starbucks. This time is precious though as I love serving Israel, the life I’ve created there and the community I’ve made,” said Einhorn, recently in the U.S. for nearly a month.
The daughter of Shuly and Craig, and sister of Roy, Einhorn immigrated with her family to Virginia Beach, Virginia, when she was 5, and then Dallas when she was in the sixth grade. She’s a former board member of BBYO’s Fannie Sablosky chapter, regional BBYO board member and 2020 graduate of Akiba Yavneh Academy.
“Tia is amazing. Throughout school, her gap year and now making aliyah, she’s always been a source of joy. The positivity she brings to every encounter, and strong faith she has that G-d is with her in every step, is inspiring,” said Sara Block, Judaic Studies administrator and teacher at Akiba Yavneh Academy.
Block notes Einhorn was always at the forefront of Jewish spirit and life at Akiba Yavneh including leadership of the Shabbaton committee and as Judaic Spirit club director.
“Tia always looks for ways to proactively infuse joy into Judaic programming and her enthusiasm is contagious. Her commitment to the Jewish people is a gift,” added Block.
Just a few months into her time at the Nativ college leadership program, Einhorn had already decided she wanted to stay in Israel, feeling that serving her country — her second home — was something she had to do.
“It just felt right. I believed I was there for a purpose, and I hadn’t done all I was meant to do. I knew that 18 months would come and go quickly, and I could still go to college and go on with life. My heart felt it and I just couldn’t leave,” she said.
While Einhorn’s first instinct was the same for dozens attending Nativ, only four remained, with three others drafting and one going on to another program.
Einhorn, nicknamed “Texas” by her IDF friends, volunteered with Sar-El (Volunteers for Israel) and with AIPAC before drafting through the Jewish Agency’s Mahal program. According to Mahal’s website, the “program is intended for Jewish youth from foreign countries who wish to volunteer for military service and to enlist in the IDF as a ‘tourist.’” Einhorn first attended an ulpan (introductory time of training and touring); Dec. 27, 2021, was her actual start date into the IAF, the Israeli Air Force.
Einhorn completed basic training in Eilat. She is based in central Israel, working in the IAF’s public relations offices planning and hosting domestic and international guests’ visits to the base, ceremonies and other events. Like most soldiers, she spends time on guard duty, working in operations and rotating through other roles in the army system.
Serving her community, here and abroad, is of dor l’dor — generational — spirit. Her parents met when her father, a volunteer of the Tidewater Jewish Federation in Virginia Beach, made a bikur cholim visit to a local hospital where her mother, visiting from Israel, was a patient. The two stayed in touch and when Craig visited Israel they reconnected, married and spent the next years starting their family.
In Dallas, the family has long supported the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; now, their daughter’s dedication to her homeland is something they honor.
“We miss her every day, but it’s the best decision Tia could have made for herself — the best,” said Einhorn’s mother. “We couldn’t be prouder — a little worried, but definitely so proud. We’re excited about every step that we know is her incredible life.”
While home, Einhorn enjoyed walks with her father, shopping and catching up on television shows with her mother and spending time with friends. She spoke at Akiba Yavneh Academy, Chabad of Dallas and Congregation Beth Torah as well as to a group at Lockheed Martin — and supporters of the FIDF (Friends of the IDF) — before spending a few days in New York with her brother.
The North Texas FIDF chapter, since opening in 2019, has raised more than $3 million to support IDF soldiers by offering education, cultural, recreational and social services programs and facilities. Israeli Lone Soldiers and those from overseas receive assistance for housing, mentoring services, financial support aid and flights home.
“Tia exemplifies the best of the Jewish people. To leave her home and her parents to serve in a foreign military is no easy choice,” said Janine Zaltsman Reutter, director of the North Texas FIDF. “Friends of the IDF provides Lone Soldiers a home away from home so no one ever feels alone. Without an IDF there would be no Israel; FIDF is an organization to support if you’re looking to make an impact.”
When not on base, Einhorn lives at the Beit Hakerem Lone Soldier Center established in memory of Lone Soldier Michael Levin. With 60 other Lone Soldiers from around the world, Einhorn has made friendships she knows will last a lifetime.
Far from her parents and brother, Einhorn is blessed to be close to her Israeli family — by blood and of friendship. Her Safta Cami Shaked and Aunt Keren Shaked are close enough to share Shabbat and visits to the nail salon and many former Akiba Yavneh teachers and classmates who have made aliyah are nearby.
While Einhorn initially planned to attend Tulane University, she now hopes after her service to study business at Reichman University, also known as IDC Herzliya.
“I thought I’d be at Tulane loving life. I am loving life; I’m just doing it here,” she said. “There’s nothing nine-to-five about being in the army but I’m enjoying all of it. Someday the ‘rest of life’ will happen, but I’ll always be glad I had this time to give of, and to, myself.”