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Rabbi's Commentary

Together in Hope, Courage, and Faith

November 2, 2014

Dear Friend of Israel,

It’s been a tough month for Canada. On October 20, Martin Couture-Rouleau, a radicalized convert to Islam, deliberately drove his car into a group of Canadian soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed in the attack, and, following a chase, the police eventually killed Couture-Rouleau.

Two days later, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 2004 convert to Islam who has had repeated trouble with the law, shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on guard duty at the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa. Zehaf-Bibeau then entered the nearby parliament building, where the Canadian parliament was in session, and fired many shots before he was killed by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, Kevin Vickers. Many believe it is no coincidence that these attacks took place in the same month that Canada’s Parliament voted to engage in a combat role with the coalition to fight ISIS.

These events hit close to home for me. Not only does The Fellowship have a thriving office in Canada, but I also spent many years of my childhood there, and my father once served as the chief rabbi of Canada. I also grieve that another Western country is getting a firsthand taste of the threat Israel lives with all the time. Following both attacks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a Canadian news outlet these events were a “grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”

In the heightened sense of caution following these attacks, Canadians have come to know an even greater kinship with Israel. For decades, Israel has been rocked by terror attacks – one of the most recent occurring just last week when a convicted Palestinian terrorist drove his car into a crowd of people in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old baby girl. The threat of attacks like this is a daily reality in the Holy Land, where no one is a stranger to heightened security procedures, bomb shelters, and gas masks.

This kinship of vigilance is really born from a kinship of shared values. Both Israel and Canada, like the U.S., are Western nations founded on principles of peace, democracy, the value of a human life, and freedom of expression and religion. Islamist fanatics find these godly principles troubling and threatening; it is these very biblical ideals they try to thwart with their shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence.

But it is also these biblical ideals that keep North America and Israel moving forward and even thriving despite the constant threat. We know Who wins this war – and that gives us the unstoppable weapons of hope, courage, and faith.

So together we support all the brave men and women who fight in the armed forces that stand on the front lines of the war on terror. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and the world. We participate in God’s work of caring for people in need. And, all the while, we cling to the biblical promise of God’s steadfast and loving care: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

With prayers for shalom, peace.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President