February 28, 2018
Dear Friend of Israel,
While Christians are familiar with the biblical story of Esther, a lot are unfamiliar with the Jewish holiday celebrating its happy outcome. That holiday is Purim, perhaps the most festive on the Jewish calendar.
Purim recalls the deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies nearly 2,400 years ago. The king of Persia (modern-day Iran) chose a beautiful young woman named Esther to be his queen, unaware that she was Jewish. Esther heard from Mordecai, her uncle, that the king had entrusted the fate of Persian Jews to Haman, the King's top adviser. Haman hated the Jews, and issued an order to kill them all.
At great risk to her own life, Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish and pleaded with him to save her people. He agreed to do so, and, in a fitting twist, handed down to the evil Haman the death sentence Haman himself had planned to give the Jews.
Esther's bravery and obedience to God – her willingness to put her own life on the line to save her people – teaches us a valuable lesson about self-sacrifice and purpose that is as true and meaningful today as it was thousands of years ago.
It’s critical for us to heed this lesson, because Haman is more than just a historical figure. We recognize Haman in terrorist leaders who call for Israel’s destruction. We feel his presence when we hear about terrorist attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions – as well as on Christians – around the world. We hear him in the rising tide of anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S.
Thus, while Purim is a festive occasion, and the day abounds with carnival-like celebrations, it carries a serious message: In a world with no shortage of "Hamans," we need more "Esthers" committed to bravely defending God’s people in the face of hatred. I thank you, my friend, for being one of those "Esthers" through your support of The Fellowship's lifesaving work.
This Purim let us celebrate the shalom, peace, God restored to the Persian Jews through Esther in biblical times – and let us continue to pray for shalom to fill the whole world.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President