Dear Friend of Israel
In the Bible, Moses presents the people of Israel with a stark choice: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
It’s a choice we all face. And yesterday, yet another terrorist chose not life, but death.
On Wednesday, a terrorist – identified by officials as 52-year-old Khalid Masood – drove his car on the busy Westminster Bridge in London mowing down pedestrians, killing several and injuring dozens more. Abandoning his car and wielding a knife, he continued his reign of terror, stabbing to death a police officer before being shot and killed.
He chose the path all terrorists choose, whether they are in London, Nice, Berlin, Iraq, Orlando, Syria, Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem. He chose to sow fear and destruction, and cause as much pain as possible to innocent people.
But another story from this horrible incident caught my eye. When Tobias Ellwood, a British Member of Parliament, saw the police officer who had been stabbed, he fought valiantly to save his life, performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the victim and trying to stem the flow of blood. One witness said, “He ran in [the] opposite direction to everyone else, he ran towards the injured police officer.”
In the face of terror, there is always heroism. How easy it is to forget this fact when we are confronted with images of human suffering – as we are all too frequently. In Tobias Ellwood and in the many police and other first responders who rushed in to protect and help those in harm’s way, we see people who chose life.
I’m reminded, too, of Natan Meir, whose wife, Dafna, was brutally murdered by a teenage Palestinian terrorist last year. When Fellowship volunteers provided Natan and his family with a grant to ease their financial burden, Natan said to them, “Thanks for making it a little easier for us to choose life.” Sometimes, choosing life means helping others choose life in their time of deepest sorrow.
“I have set before you life and death.” Dear friends, even as our enemies choose death, let us choose life. Let us pray that loved ones of the victims of yesterday’s attack will be comforted. Let us continue to defend, in no uncertain terms and with all our might, the society and the values we hold dear.
And let us always remember to hold fast to God, continuing to pray for the day when He will bless us, and all of His world, with His most precious gift of shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President