September 27, 2018
Dear Friend of Israel,
Next week, Jews around the world will gather in synagogue to mark Simchat Torah (literally, “rejoicing in the Torah”), a festive celebration of the gift of God’s Word. The holiday embodies one of the foundational values of Judaism: a profound love and respect for the Torah (which Christians know as the first five books of the Old Testament).
On Simchat Torah we both end and begin our annual cycle of Torah readings, a discipline that keeps us rooted in biblical truth and wisdom. All the Torah scrolls are carried around the sanctuary amid singing and dancing, with children leading the procession. (This is not a typical day in synagogue!) Together we read the concluding portion of Deuteronomy and the first portion of Genesis. In this way, we demonstrate our love for the Torah, and give thanks to God for the gift of His Word.
On Simchat Torah I am always reminded that God’s Word is for all people. Every week, The Fellowship welcomes Jewish men, women, and children who have come “from the four corners of the earth” on Fellowship Freedom Flights to live in their biblical homeland. Recently, they have come from Ukraine, Belarus, Brazil, and Uruguay.
Each time Fellowship representatives gather at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to welcome these Jews home, I think: What an incredible document the Torah is! It binds Jews together, despite differences of race or national origin. And, through my years of interfaith work, I have come to understand that it binds together not only Jews, but Jews and Christians as well. Our unity is truly life-giving and life-changing when it is based on this sure foundation.
One of the deepest truths we learn in the Torah is that our God is never-changing. We worship and serve the same God that the Israelites worshipped as they wandered in the desert. In a world of constant change, the constancy of God and His Word offers comfort and hope to Jews and Christians alike. May you come to know that comfort and hope in this and every season.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President