April 20, 2017
Dear Friend of Israel
My father passed away at the age of 97 last year. Part of my process of grieving his death is the practice of saying Kaddish, a mourning prayer that Jews say three times every day. In the case of a parent, we recite it daily for 11 months.
A certain stipulation of this ritual has been especially helpful for me: You can’t say the Kaddish alone. You have to recite it in a minyan, a gathering of ten men over the age of 13. In other words, I’ve had to say this prayer and practice this ritual of mourning in community.
These traditions are of utmost importance in Judaism. In fact, they’re so strong that they recently altered my travel plans. I’ve always dreamed of going to Hawaii, and my wife, Joelle, and I recently got an opportunity to go. The trip was planned. But, sadly, I learned that there isn’t a large enough Jewish community in Hawaii to have ten people for a minyan three times a day. We didn’t go, because I wouldn’t have been able to say the Kaddish.
This practice of community has been good for me. Everyone deals with loss differently, and I’m more inclined to do so privately. It has been a difficult year. But the Kaddish acts as God’s reminder that I wasn’t designed to face all difficulties and challenges alone. Of course, we are all individuals, with our own soul and self, but we are also part of a family and a community. This Jewish practice acts as a powerful reminder of that fact.
This concept is biblical. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either one of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
We see this concept at work every day at The Fellowship. You, our donors, comprise a powerful community working together to bless Israel and her people in need around the world. And, in turn, this community draws alongside people in need, reminding them that they are not alone.
As I grieve the loss of my father, I have been grateful for this reminder to keep reaching out to others. And, as I do, I am exceedingly grateful to be in community with you, our Fellowship family. You are a blessing to me, and to the Jewish community around the world.
With gratitude and prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President