International Fellowship of Christians and Jews


Rabbi's Commentary

Gratefulness Makes the Soul Great

November 29, 2015

Dear Friend of Israel,

On Thanksgiving, Americans will gather with family and friends to share a meal and give thanks to God for our many blessings. It is one of America’s most beloved holidays – one of those rare times when we come together to reaffirm the principle that the good we have received as a nation and as individuals is a gift from God.

On this day, one of the things I will give thanks for – as I do every day – is the continued and faithful support for Israel and the Jewish people shown by The Fellowship’s supporters. What a blessing it has been to suffering Jews in Israel and around the world! And this year, through your generosity, more Jews have been brought to their biblical homeland, more hungry Jews have been fed, and more Jewish orphans been given safe, comfortable places to live than ever before.

Today I want to share with you just a few words of thanks from those you have helped, so that you can understand the depth of their heartfelt appreciation:

“The Fellowship’s check is going to be very helpful, but the real gift is the fact that Rabbi Eckstein and the donors are telling us that we’re not alone and they understand the importance of our work. Thank you for standing with us.” — Niv, an IDF combat soldier injured in the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel who received a check from The Fellowship to help with his medical expenses

“We remain deeply honored to be IFCJ’s partner in the holy work that, together, we do for elderly Jews and children in dire need in the former Soviet Union.” — Alan Gill, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

“We want to thank The Fellowship and the donors from the bottom of our heart. You made our aliyah as easy as possible. We'll never forget everything The Fellowship did for us.”  Viktoria, a Jewish woman who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from war-torn Ukraine with her husband, Denys, on a Fellowship Freedom Flight

“On behalf of the residents of Beit She’an, I want to thank you for the assistance you have once again given this year to single-parent families living in Amidar public housing and to children in orphanages for  Rosh Hashanah and the upcoming school year. This assistance has become a tradition for many years that is enjoyed by many families, thereby letting them celebrate the High Holidays with joy and dignity.” — Refael Ben-Shitrit, mayor of Beit She’an.

What wonderful testimonies to the blessings you have bestowed on the poor and needy through your support of The Fellowship’s programs! I can assure you there are many, many more stories like this – I know, because I hear them every time I visit Fellowship projects in Israel, the former Soviet Union, and other parts of the world.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great Jewish theologians of the 20th century, once summed up the necessity for giving thanks to God in all things: “How strange we are in the world, and how presumptuous our doings! Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder, for the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.”

This Thanksgiving, may your heart be filled with gratitude for the many blessings in your life, and brimming over with thanks to the God Who is the source of all those blessings.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President