May 17, 2018
Dear Friend of Israel,
At sundown on May 19, Jews will observe Shavuot, a holiday with dual significance.
The roots of Shavuot come from the book of Leviticus: “From the day after the Sabbath … count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15-16). So, 50 days after Passover, Jews recall when the “first fruits” were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to God in biblical times.
Shavuot also commemorates the giving of the Torah (the first five books of what Christians call the Old Testament) to Moses at Mount Sinai. This monumental event is of fundamental importance not just to Jews, but to Christians – and, indeed, the entire world. Biblical principles form the heart of Western civilization. Our moral sense, our belief in personal liberty, and our system of law would not exist without them.
Our civilization seems even more precious today set against current events in Israel: Hamas-led riots on the Gaza border, Hezbollah gaining strength in Lebanon, Iran poised to attack Israel from war-torn Syria. The “light unto the nations” that is modern-day Israel shines even brighter because of the oppressive regimes that surround it. We see this today, when many of Israel’s neighbors remain committed to her destruction, and anti-Israel rhetoric in the media seems louder than ever.
Thankfully, Israel also has dedicated friends. With the recent move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and President Trump’s bold decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S.-Israel relationship has never been stronger. With the U.S. leading the way, Guatemala also moved their embassy to Jerusalem this week. And Honduras may be poised to follow suit.
And then there is you, my friends. As the holiday of Shavuot approaches, I am deeply grateful for your committed and faithful support for the work of The Fellowship. Because of you, Israel knows that she has friends who stand with her. And as we celebrate the gift of God’s law, we celebrate too the great gift of friends who stand with us in our struggle for a peaceful and secure Israel.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein