Dear Friend of Israel,
In 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that created a cherished American holiday. Reflecting upon the year that was soon to close, which he said had been “filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” he declared that the U.S. should “observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” And thus, the Thanksgiving holiday was created.
Note again the date of this proclamation. In 1863, the nation Lincoln led was involved in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history and one that quite literally pitted brother against brother. President Lincoln’s job of seeing the war through to victory for Union forces and healing his nation afterward was one of the most formidable challenges any president has ever faced. At this date, he could not have been certain he would succeed. And yet, he told his countrymen to set aside time to give thanks to God. It is an example we would all do well to follow, in good times and bad – and not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.
For my part, I look back on the year that is almost over with deep gratitude for each and every one of you who makes The Fellowship‘s work possible. Through your generosity, more Jews have been brought to their biblical homeland, more hungry Jews have been fed, and more Jewish orphans have been given safe, comfortable places to live than ever before. With God’s blessing, we truly have been able to do extraordinary things, and have touched countless lives for the better.
Today, on behalf of Jewish people everywhere, I say thank you. Your generosity has done so much to ease the plight of Jews in need. May your Thanksgiving holiday be full of blessings – and may you see in your own life the fulfillment of the promise given by God to bless those who bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President