A Few Days Ago, Fire Destroyed 40 of 50 Homes in One Israeli Village
The Fellowship | May 30, 2019
MEVO MODI’IM, Israel — Yael Eckstein and Dari Carlebach have something in common.
They are both the daughters of noted rabbis. Carlebach’s late father, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, was known as “The Singing Rabbi” for his unique, lyrical style of prayer which became famous throughout the world. His songs drew many to Mevo Modi’im, the idyllic Israeli village he founded west of Jerusalem. Among the frequent visitors to the village were Yael Eckstein and her late father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
Mevo Modi’im was burned nearly to the ground last Thursday as temperatures in Israel soared to nearly 100 degrees and fire scorched nearly 2,000 acres. Originally assumed to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring, the fire is now being investigated as a possible incident of arson, and 40 of 50 homes in Mevo Modi’im are charred beyond repair.
“We counted Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach as a friend, and we still count his family as friends,” said Yael Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “I will never forget our visits there, and I will never forget walking through its ruins with Dari on Sunday. Immediately, I felt a responsibility to God to provide emergency help to these families — families which have been a profound blessing to our family at The Fellowship.”
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews quickly mobilized to raise emergency assistance, immediately setting aside up to $5,000 in assistance for each family of Mevo Modi’im. These funds, along with additional resources, are being distributed in coordination with Israel’s National Emergency Authority, Israel Fire and Rescue Services, as well as the Hatzalah emergency response organization, to ensure that assistance is provided as quickly as possible to those who need it the most.
“Every Sabbath eve, the men of the [village] would come to our house,” Rabbi Carlebach’s daughter Dari said while standing in her father’s old home with, Eckstein by her side. “My father had a perfume, which everyone said was special, that he would spray each one of them with for the Sabbath. On Sabbath morning, the guys would be in the kitchen eating and drinking coffee, sharing words of Torah. Even at three in the morning, people would stop by the home to consult and speak with my father.”
Unsurprisingly, the village’s residents followed in Rabbi Carlebach’s footsteps. “There’s none like the people of Mevo Modi’im,” Dari continued. “They do not have a lot of money, but their houses are open to guests all the time. Now they need a lot of help. Many are left with nothing but the clothes on their bodies. Their money has been burnt along with all their property.”
Nevertheless, Dari remains determined that Mevo Modi’im will overcome the destruction. “The nation of Israel is very strong,” she says.
“Israel is stronger because of her friends, Jewish and Christian, who will never let a single Jewish family suffer,” said Yael Eckstein. “We are calling upon friends inside Israel and outside to step up and meet the needs of these dear people.”
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide — and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $120 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.8 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto and Seoul. For more information, visit www.ifcj.org.
Yael Eckstein is the President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. In this role, Eckstein oversees all ministry programs and serves as the organization’s international spokesperson. She can be heard on The Fellowship’s daily radio program airing on 1,500 stations worldwide. Before her present duties, Yael served as global executive vice president, senior vice president, and director of program development and ministry outreach. Based in Jerusalem, Yael is a published writer, leading international advocate for persecuted religious minorities, and a respected social services professional. As President and CEO of The Fellowship, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of America’s largest religious not-for-profit organizations.