Dear Friend of Israel,
People attend church for solace, comfort, and reassurance – and often, to try to mend what is broken in their lives. In a world filled with so much noise and constant change, they seek a space in which they can encounter God. They come, amid all the distractions of the modern world competing for our attention, to find the One Who speaks to us, saying, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Perhaps this is what makes last Sunday’s attack on a church in Texas – where a gun-wielding madman upset by a domestic dispute murdered 26 worshipers, many of them children – seem uniquely hideous and appalling. It was both a horrific violation of the sanctity of life, and a desecration of a place that serves as a sacred sanctuary.
When we see murder committed in a house of prayer, we know we are seeing evil at work, and we are shaken to the foundation of our faith. And yet, thankfully, that foundation – God Himself – stands secure and unchanged. He remains, to borrow words from Psalm 46, our refuge, our strength, and an ever-present help in troubled times such as these.
Terrible events like the attack in Texas remind me that worshipers, both Jews and Christians, are under fire all over the world. Synagogues, even in the U.S., regularly have security on staff to guard against anti-Semitic attacks, and must beef up that security for Jewish holidays. Churches in the Middle East and around the world are under fire from hateful Islamist radicals who seek the destruction of any and all who do not subscribe to their hateful, misbegotten ideology.
These sad facts show us how important it is that we, Jews and Christians, stand together in solidarity. So today, I ask all of you to unite in prayer for the loved ones of those murdered in the unspeakable act of violence in Texas. Pray for their comfort, and that they may find peace in the midst of their greatest sorrow. And pray for safety for all who gather in God’s house to worship Him, wherever they may be.
The book of Isaiah tells of the time when “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
My friends, in a world filled with violence, conflict, and hatred, pray that day will come soon.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President