August 25, 2016
Dear Friend of Israel
God has given me many blessings in life: the blessing of being a husband, the blessing of being a father, the blessing of being a grandfather, the blessing of being a citizen of Israel, and so many more. Today, I am proud to say that just two weeks ago, I received the blessing of being a grandfather yet again when my eldest daughter gave birth to twins – two handsome boys.
As I gave thanks to God for the birth of two healthy grandsons, I recalled the profound truth of the biblical words: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Of course, we live in a difficult world, and as I returned to work, I was reminded that beyond the protective, loving embrace of the family that we hold so dear lies a world that can be filled with danger and peril. Too often, we are greeted with bad news when we open our newspapers or turn on our computers.
That news last weekend was especially disturbing. A rocket fired at Israel from Gaza made us all wonder if another war with Hamas would erupt in the near future. And a sickening attack by ISIS on a Kurdish wedding in Turkey – the suicide bomber was a young boy, 12-14 years of age, and 22 children are among the 54 reported killed in the blast – brought home the sobering reality of terrorism.
When we hear of an attack such as this we know that we are looking at the face of evil. Trying to imagine the attackers’ motivation is simply beyond us. Attacking a wedding, meant to be the most joyful of occasions, and using a young boy to do so, presents a staggering challenge to us as people of faith and conscience. We wonder: How does one go on in a world where such things happen?
The answer, I believe, is found in the Bible: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). God has set before us life and death, good and evil; the only answer to those who revel in death and cause suffering to others is to cling to life, to cling to the good, ever more dearly. We do this by recognizing life as the gift from God that it is, by helping His children when they are in need, and by showing Him gratitude for all the good that we have.
“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Today, I thank God for all of you, our Fellowship supporters, who make it possible for us to change so many lives for the better every day. I pray that God will grant all my children and grandchildren lives full of true and abiding happiness. And I pray for all those who live in strife-torn corners of the world who must endure suffering of the sort that most of us, thank God, will never have to endure. May we all see the day when God grants to the entire world His most precious gift of shalom, peace.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President