June 8, 2017
Dear Friend of Israel,
How many of you are familiar with Le Chambon, France? In this small village during the dark days of the Holocaust, Pastor Andre Trocme led residents in a coordinated effort to shelter Jews from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis. People responded by hiding Jews in their homes, their farms, and their schools, saving the lives of some 5,000 people.
I told the story of Le Chambon recently when I was honored for The Fellowship’s efforts at interfaith bridge building at an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. As I spoke about the heroic events at Le Chambon, I thought not just about the historical event itself, but how that extraordinary legacy of Christian support for the Jewish people flourishes today.
I’m grateful that we at The Fellowship get to hear stories every day of Christians who give sacrificially so that poor, needy Jewish people – including some who live under oppressive anti-Semitism – can have better lives.
There are so many of these stories: the couple who, rather than remodel their kitchen, gave to help an orphaned Jewish child in Ukraine. The man who postponed buying a new car so he could help an elderly Holocaust survivor. The single mother and schoolteacher in Florida who gives the money she used to spend on coffee every day to help those in need.
Thankfully, these good people don’t have to put their lives at risk to help Jews, as the residents of Le Chambon did. But they nonetheless stand in the great tradition of “Righteous Gentiles” – non Jews, many of them Christians, who gave their all to save Jews during the Holocaust. Because of Fellowship supporters like them – and like you – we were able to help 1.6 million people in need in Israel and around the world last year alone. So, when I stood at that podium in Washington, D.C. last month, I accepted the honor on their behalf, and yours.
My friends, we are living in a new reality. The animosity and distrust that characterized the relationship between Jews and Christians for centuries is a thing of the past. For perhaps the first time in history, Jews are not alone; there are tens of millions of Christians all over the world who stand with us, who are extending their hand in support, compassion, and friendship.
We have been waiting for this day, and it has come. And I thank you, Fellowship friends, for ushering in this new reality. I can only echo the psalmist, who said, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President