For Such a Time as This

The Fellowship  |  March 20, 2019

Yael Eckstein smiling at an elderly woman while at a Purim party.

This week, Jews around the world will celebrate the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the events that took place in the Book of Esther.

One of the interesting things about this text is that God isn’t mentioned even once. Of course, His fingerprints are all over the place, but it is a story about God’s hidden presence. It’s about seeing God in everything, whether His presence is obvious or not. (In fact, this is why Jews wear masks or costumes on Purim – to remind us that God is masked or hidden, but present).

While we can read the entire Book of Esther in an hour, the events took place over nearly a decade. When we think of the whole story, it becomes obvious that everything that happened was for the sake of saving the Jewish people when Haman sought to destroy them. However, Esther could have never known that when she was forcibly taken to be the King’s wife.

This year, the message and meaning of Purim resonate strongly with me. My father’s unexpected death could seem to me like a crazy, random, unfortunate occurrence. I could believe that the timing was terrible and bemoan the fact that I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. I could think that God made a mistake by taking my father before we could officially transition between his presidency and my own. I could see the entire sequence of events before and after my father’s passing as chance.

But I don’t. The message of Purim is that nothing at all is a coincidence. Everything is meticulously planned and designed by God. Looking back on the last several years, I can see God’s hand clearly setting me up for what was unexpected for me, but was part of God’s plan all along.

A few years ago, God placed the idea in my father’s mind to begin training me as the leader of The Fellowship. God granted my father the foresight to take a step back and allow me to make important decisions and learn the details of running the organization.

Months before my father died, the board of The Fellowship just happened to vote me as president-elect, meaning I would immediately become president of The Fellowship when my father stepped down. I just happened to return from two weeks in Africa less than 12 hours before my father passed away. Only God could align so many circumstances in a way that the transition from my father’s leadership to my own could occur as smoothly as possible. In fact, one of our partners in the former Soviet Union commented that this has been the smoothest transition in the history of organizations or companies. There was not one glitch.

My father died on the first day of the Hebrew month of Adar. I know that this too is no coincidence. We celebrate Purim in Adar, which means that the energy of the holiday and the messages of the Book of Esther permeate the entire month (or 2 months if it is a Jewish leap year like this year).

I lost my father in Adar, but I know that this too comes from God. And just as I know that this loss came from God, I also know that I am ready for this new chapter in my life. God doesn’t give us any challenges that we can’t handle. If I have been called to lead The Fellowship, it is because I am ready to do so.

As I move forward, both personally and professionally, I have confidence and faith that everything is as it should be. I may not understand God’s plans, but I know that they are the best plans. Like Esther of the Purim story, I embrace my mission knowing that I have been called to this position “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael Eckstein's Signature

Yael Eckstein