Generation to Generation: How to Raise Our Children to Be ‘Strong and Courageous’
If we want our children to live according to godly — not worldly — values, then it is essential that we instill in them courage. Host Yael Eckstein shares on the podcast that courage is one of the most important values that she can pass down to her children. This vital trait is celebrated annually on the biblical observance of Purim, which commemorates the story of Queen Esther, whose courageous actions saved the Jewish people from certain annihilation. As Yael shares, it is faith that gave Esther her courage, and courage that gave her the confidence to take a stand for her people. Together, faith and courage have always advanced God’s work on earth. Listen today to this inspiring call to raise the next generation to be “strong and courageous.”
In February 2019, Yael Eckstein unexpectedly lost her father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship). His passing coincided with the first day of the month of Adar — the Hebrew month in which the Jewish people celebrate Purim and a month in which they are commanded to be joyful.
At the time, Yael, who is now Fellowship President and CEO, thought it was fitting that her father passed away in Adar because the events commemorated during this month — the story of the courageous Queen Esther saving the Jewish people from annihilation — matched his life’s work. Her father’s lifesaving work for Jews in need in Israel and around the world brought so much joy and salvation to the Jewish people.
But Yael also recognized that the story of Purim fit her own life story, too. She recalled, “It was the story of Esther that saw me through those first difficult weeks and months after my loss. I realized during those first months after my father’s death that just as God had prepared Esther for ‘such a time as this,’ He had been preparing me for that very moment.
“I drew on the lessons that I learned as a child from my father and mother — that if God had brought me to this position, I absolutely could do it,” Yael said. “All I needed to fulfill this role was already within me; I just needed the courage and faith to push forward. God was most certainly with me, just as He had been with Esther and all the other courageous heroes of the Bible.”
The year that followed was an incredible journey, and it was one on which Yael brought her children along, too. They, too, were hurting; they had lost their beloved saba, their grandfather, someone who had been such a presence in their young lives. And they, too, had to deal with the reality of their mother taking on a more demanding position outside the home.
The family started a tradition that they observed throughout the year following Rabbi Eckstein’s death. Every Sabbath eve as they lit the traditional Shabbat candles, they also lit a commemoration candle in memory of Rabbi Eckstein and would share a memory about him in order to encourage each other through their loss.
“It was during this time that I shared with my children my thoughts and feelings about, literally, sitting in my father’s chair and taking over his position. I would share the many challenges that I faced each week, and how the lessons I learned from my father helped me through. I shared how my faith was strengthened as I felt God’s presence and love with every difficult step I took,” Yael said.
Perhaps more than any teaching, watching their mother go through this challenge and mustering the courage to go forward taught her children the value of faith-based courage.
“I believe that the amount of courage we bring with us when we are met with such challenges will greatly determine our ability to surmount them, or God forbid, to give up in despair,” Yael said. “By sharing my experiences with my children, I hope that if they ever question their ability to fulfill God’s plan for their lives, they will look back on their mother, just as I looked back to Esther, my ancestor, and know that if she can do it, so can they.
“They will know that while God gives us burdens, He will bring them through it if they, like Joshua, are ‘to be strong and be courageous.’”
Follow Yael on Instagram at Yael_Eckstein and on Facebook at YaelEckstein.