February 4, 2016
Dear Friend of Israel,
This week I visited Ukraine, trying to see how The Fellowship can best serve those whose needs have grown even greater during this bitter winter. As the temperature plummets, the war and social unrest continues – and even worsens – to the extent that the most vulnerable citizens are at greater risk than ever before.
I have visited Ukraine many times, and, truthfully, the situation here is worse than I have ever seen it. While Ukraine may have fallen out of the news lately – and the U.S. media focuses on the upcoming primary elections – I see need here as I have never seen it before.
On this trip, I saw people whose meals consist of a cup of hot water. People who go without food or water for days. People who must make the unbearably painful choice between buying heating fuel for their homes, or buying medicine they need, quite literally, to sustain their lives. And more people than on previous trips have been willing to confirm the existence of virulent anti-Semitism. One said, “Let everyone know that [anti-Semitism] is not only alive and well, it is growing stronger every day.”
Their plight, sadly, seems to have been forgotten. But not by everyone. This winter, The Fellowship and our loyal supporters have been showing their love for these remnants of Israel through our Winter Warmth program. Through this program, needy Jews in Ukraine and throughout the former Soviet Union, as well as in Israel, are provided with the essentials they need to survive. They need no longer make painful choices. They need no longer freeze through long, cold winter nights. And the warm blankets, heaters, and food we provide do much more than just warm their bodies and fill their stomachs – they are a reminder that, though these needy people may be alone, there are thousands of Christians and Jews throughout the world who truly care for them, giving sacrificially so that they may live with a measure of comfort.
The Bible tells us, “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). My friends, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity, for your love of the land and people of Israel, and for your care for Jewish people everywhere. Thanks to you, thousands of people in need will know – despite the inattention of the world – that they are loved and cared for.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President