December 17, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
As 2015 draws to a close, we in Israel look back on a year marked, as all years are, by both bad and good.
Israel and Jews worldwide have certainly experienced their share of struggles this year. This fall’s wave of terror attacks by individual Palestinian extremists wielding stones, knives, and guns was a stark reminder that Israel must constantly be on guard against the threats that surround her – and now often come from within her own borders. The Jewish community in Ukraine continued to face economic and security concerns in light of the ongoing civil unrest and threats from Russian forces. The recent terror attacks in France have Jews in that country, where anti-Semitism was already on a disturbing rise, fearful and sometimes fleeing to their spiritual homeland – as are Jews in many parts of Europe and Latin America. And peace talks stalled once again, and now seem even more unlikely and futile.
But these challenges have not gone unanswered by Israel’s faithful friends. Thanks to your generosity, last year thousands of Jews made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) on our Fellowship Freedom Flights – more than 2,000 from Ukraine alone – escaping poverty and oppression. Just this month we are expanding this program to include flights to Israel from France, Uruguay, Moldova, and Spain. During the wave of terror we provided aid for victims and support for weary Israel Defense Forces troops in Israel, offering needed relief as well as the reminder that they are not alone in their struggles. We fed countless hungry Jews in the former Soviet Union and are providing winter heating assistance to impoverished elderly who often must choose between lifesaving medicine and heat.
This is only a snapshot of the full range of work made possible by your generosity. Your support of so many people in need calls to mind the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”). This term beautifully expresses God’s desire that we care for those in need and help fix the broken places in this world. We see this idea throughout the Bible, such as in Proverbs 19:17: “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” And I see it beautifully lived out in your outpouring of prayers and support over the past year.
As this will be our last e-newsletter for 2015, today I want to wish our Christian friends a peaceful and joyous Christmas. To our Jewish friends, I pray that you experienced a Hanukkah filled with light. May the coming year bring you peace and prosperity, and may we all soon have the privilege of glimpsing the new, redeemed era, in which, as the prophet says, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).
With prayers for shalom, peace, at the holidays and throughout the coming year,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President
Help IFCJ support Israel’s victims of terror and stay up-to-date on events in Israel during this time of crisis by going to ifcj.org/Crisis. And please share this website with your family, friends, and church members.