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Grateful and Blessed

Yael Eckstein at Western Wall

November 27, 2018

During the latest skirmish between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza, things got personal for me. Of course anything that happens anywhere in Israel hits close to home; we are a tiny country, no bigger than the state of New Jersey. But when an Iron Dome battery was deployed five minutes away from my house, I couldn’t help but feel the threat posed by rocket fire in a deeply personal way.

Suddenly it was my children, my family, my home, and my trauma. I would be staying awake all night, so if a “code red” siren blared, I would be able to get all four of my sleeping kids into the bomb shelter within a minute and a half. This time it was me looking into my 6-year-old’s terror-filled eyes as I tried to reassure him that everything would be all right.

I felt a heavy weight on my heart as I understood that this is how our brothers and sisters in the south of Israel have been feeling every single day for years.

Later that evening, as I put my sweet son to bed, he said, “Mommy, it’s scary in Israel. Everyone wants to kill us.” Taking a deep breath, I spoke my truth: “Baby, Israel is actually the safest place for us; it’s the only country in the whole world that has a government and army with one priority – to protect the Jewish people.”

He thought about what I said, and gave me a smile and a kiss. Then he asked, “Does Israel have the strongest army in the world?” I told him that Israel has an army of God, and because of that we’re the strongest army in the world. “I agree,” my son said, and peacefully drifted off to sleep.

Thanksgiving isn’t observed in Israel, but it is still one of my favorite holidays, and I have many fond memories of it from growing up in the U.S. So this year on Thanksgiving, I thanked God for every single moment of calm that we have here in Israel. I expressed my gratitude for every night that my kids can sleep peacefully knowing that they are safe, and every day that they can be carefree, living their lives in the Jewish homeland. I am grateful that, after 2,000 years, we finally have a Jewish homeland.

I am thankful for our brave army, for the wisdom God gives our leaders, and for God’s miraculous protection, which we witnessed in the past month while Israel was under attack. Even in times of uncertainty and fear, I am grateful to God for making it possible for me and my family to live in Israel. I don’t take it for granted for even a moment.

Finally, I am beyond thankful for you, our Christian friends, who stand firmly with Israel and the Jewish people. With your support, we are able to help Jews in Israel and around the world by providing life-saving aid. We are able to bring biblical prophecy to fruition as we bring Jews home to Israel from all four corners of the earth.

Your message of love and solidarity is one that Jewish people are not used to hearing. But we are hearing your message now, and it does so much to boost our morale when it seems like the entire world is against us.

As we move forward from Thanksgiving, let’s remember that we belong to a larger family, God’s family. Let us praise the Lord for the blessing of fellowship that exists between Christians and Jews in our times. Let us give thanks for the opportunity to play a significant role in God’s plan for Israel and the Jewish people. And may we continue to be grateful for one another, so that together we can make God’s world a better place.

“Hodu laHashem ki tov, ki lolam chasdo,” “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

In Loving Memory of Rabbi Yecheil Eckstein 1951-2019

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