February 2, 2017
Dear Friend of Israel
It’s hard to watch the news these days without seeing coverage of the current chaotic political situation in the U.S.
This turmoil is news not just in the U.S., but around the world – and certainly in Israel. Israelis are watching with interest as new policies take shape, and as the general public reacts with either support or strong protests. Perhaps we in Israel are keenly interested because the tumultuous political climate at times resembles our own. It is common in Israel to hear lively debates or see protestors on the streets championing their cause – often loudly.
But in Israel, as in the U.S., there is always a danger that anger will become an end in itself, and distract us from what we must do – and from what is truly important.
In some ways, this is the most difficult challenge for us in life. It is all too human to denigrate and vilify those who hold opposing views. Disagreement easily transforms into resentment. Resentment diminishes, and in time completely destroys, our ability to speak to one another. Then we are left with disunity even on those subjects – sometimes, the most fundamental subjects – upon which we normally would stand united.
How do we react in a season of upheaval? My own reaction is formed by a phrase that became my watchword during years of building bridges between Christians and Jews: Cooperate whenever possible, oppose whenever necessary, and teach and sensitize at all times. We must listen to and continue to try to understand our neighbors. We must continue to speak our minds, with honesty and in a spirit of true love and concern for those around us. And we must continue our work to better this broken world.
Despite our differences, work must go on. The needs in this world are too great. My daughter, Yael, was in Ukraine just days ago distributing aid and assessing the needs of impoverished Jews who are enduring the bitterly cold winter and living conditions that are unimaginable to most of us. We are planning a groundbreaking campaign that will provide even more assistance to Holocaust survivors, and ensure that people who survived the horrors of a terrible chapter in history are not forgotten. And every day tens of thousands of people continue to be fed, clothed, and supported both in body and spirt because of your generous partnership with The Fellowship. We cannot let these needs get obscured or our resolve to weaken.
Friends, let us continue to take to heart the biblical words, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). United by our firm faith in God, we find strength to move forward with the many issues we agree on – and, in doing so, we make the world a better place.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President