A Biblical Hero for Today

March 18, 2014

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Dear Friends of The Fellowship,

I just arrived home in Israel from my visit to Ukraine. It was a sobering trip that revealed the depth of the problems in this troubled country, and the continued and growing threat to the Jewish community there.

In light of the critical situation, The Fellowship continues to be on the ground delivering food, medical supplies and heating fuel to Ukrainian Jews who are too afraid to leave their homes. We all hope and pray that this will ease the plight of those who are under threat, and that our efforts will provide for all the needs of this community that has suffered so much.

We return to an Israel that is again under siege. Last week, scores of rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, a region that, sadly, has been in the line of fire for many years. Israel responded with air strikes on key outposts in Gaza. The radical group Islamic Jihad took credit for the attacks, and while as of this writing a ceasefire brokered by Egypt is in place, we know all too well that ceasefires declared by these types of groups have little force.

All of this came as Jewish people in Israel and around the world celebrated Purim, which recalls the biblical story of one brave Jewish woman, Esther, who stood up to the efforts of Haman, advisor to the King of Persia, to kill all the Jews in their country. While this is a very festive holiday, the story of Purim – found in the biblical book of Esther – carries a deeply serious message. In Esther’s willingness to put her own life on the line we find a valuable lesson about self-sacrifice and purpose that is as true and meaningful today as it was thousands of years ago.

Haman, too, is more than just a historical figure. He is as alive today as he was in biblical times – a fact that is apparent anytime we read the news. We recognize Haman in the Islamic Jihad terrorists who fired rockets at Israel, or the groups who last week tried to ship rockets to Gaza. And I certainly saw evidence of him in Ukraine, where the Jewish community is suffering in the midst of their country’s turmoil.

Thus, one of the messages of Purim — a message that applies to Jews and Christians alike — is that in a world with no shortage of "Hamans," we need more "Esthers" committed to standing humbly before God and seeking to defend His people. I thank you, my friend, for being one of those "Esthers" through your support of The Fellowship's lifesaving work – in Israel, in Ukraine, and around the world.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada


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