September 10, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
Tomorrow the U.S. observes a somber anniversary that occurs – perhaps appropriately – just prior to one of the most somber and reflective times on the Jewish calendar, the High Holy Days, which begin Sunday night at sundown with the observance of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).
Fourteen years ago, a group of Islamist fundamentalists crashed four commercial airline flights into the two World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and – in an attempt to reach either the White House or the Capitol that failed thanks to the heroics of passengers of the hijacked jet – a field in Pennsylvania. They took 2,996 lives and Americans’ sense of safety on our home soil. That decrease in our sense of security has only deepened with the rise of the ISIS terrorist group, and the global spread of violent attacks by Islamist extremists.
In this heightened sense of caution, Americans have come to know an even greater kinship with Israel. For decades, Israel has been rocked by terror attacks. The threat of attacks is a daily reality in the Holy Land, where no one is a stranger to heightened security procedures, bomb shelters, and gas masks. And now, our neighbor that poses the greatest threat, Iran – which has repeatedly voiced the desire to wipe Israel off the map – is being granted new opportunities to acquire weapons to make good on that threat.
The kinship of vigilance shared by the U.S. and Israel is really born from a kinship of shared values. Both of our nations are founded on principles of peace, democracy, the value of human life, and freedom of expression and religion. Islamist fanatics are threatened by these principles; it is these very biblical ideals they try to thwart with their shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence.
But it is also these biblical ideals that keep the U.S. and Israel moving forward and even thriving despite the constant threat. We know Who wins this war – and that gives us the unstoppable weapons of hope, courage, and faith.
These biblical values will guide the Jewish people through the High Holy Days, a time of introspection, repentance, and reconciliation. They will support us all as we navigate the fallout of the Iran nuclear deal and the increase in global terror. And they will prompt us to pray for God’s strong hand of protection on the U.S., Israel, and the world, even as we cling to the biblical promise of His steadfast and loving care: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
With prayers for shalom, peace, and for a blessed and sweet new year,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President