God Is Our Refuge and Strength
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein | January 5, 2017
Dear Friend of Israel
I offer my heartfelt wishes for a happy and blessed New Year. As we work to support Israel and serve Jewish people in need around the world, all of us at The Fellowship are deeply grateful to the faithful friends like you who make our work possible. During 2016, thanks to God’s blessing, The Fellowship‘s lifesaving assistance was extended to more people than ever.
Like the year that has just ended, 2017 will be filled with great challenges for the Jewish state. The United Nations continues its negative, disproportionate focus on Israel – evidenced by the recent anti-Israel U.N. Security Council resolution – while turning a blind eye to real and horrific human rights violations throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. As we enter the new year, relations between Israel and the U.S. are uncertain, as the U.S. failed to block the U.N. resolution. Civil war continues to rage in neighboring Syria, and terrorism remains a constant threat both within Israel’s borders and throughout the region, such as the New Year’s Eve attack in Turkey that killed dozens.
Meanwhile, rising anti-Semitism across Europe has inspired an increasing number of Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel). Unrest continues in Ukraine, leading to ever-deepening instability and financial turmoil. And winter in the former Soviet Union is having a devastating impact on impoverished Jews, including many Holocaust survivors who cannot afford lifesaving necessities.
While it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by bad news, I am inspired by the good things The Fellowship is able to do every single day thanks to our supporters’ generosity. For instance, last year we helped over 4,000 Jews escape poverty and oppression by making aliyah to their biblical homeland. We provided financial and emotional support to Israel’s victims of terror attacks. We launched an emergency hotline and distributed emergency call buttons to struggling elderly in Israel. And we fed and provided winter relief to more hungry and cold Jews in Israel and the former Soviet Union last year than ever before, including many of the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors.
Our faith calls us to believe that Israel will prevail despite her difficulties. This does not mean we should cultivate an optimism that turns a blind eye to evil or ignores history. Israel, more than most nations, knows the folly of such cheap optimism. No, I speak of the sort of hope expressed best in the words of the psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2).
My friends, we place our hope in a benevolent God who never forsakes His children – a God who is at all times sovereign not only over our lives, but over the entire world. In the year to come, let us recommit ourselves to bettering our world through prayer, material support, and action. On behalf of all of us at The Fellowship, I thank you for your generous heart for God’s children.
With prayers for shalom, peace, in 2017,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President