God’s People, Together in Unity

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June 30, 2014

Shalom,

For as long as I can remember, I have been hearing amazing family stories from when my beloved grandfather was the chief rabbi of Ottawa. I grew up listening to the heartfelt tunes that he wrote during his 50 years in Canada and was told over and over again of the deep love and dedication that Canadians have for Israel. Long before I actually visited Canada, I had fond feelings for this country tucked deep within my heart.

Last week, I had the blessing of visiting Toronto to attend a special event hosted by the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada. The Foundation was honouring my father Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and The Fellowship for IFCJ Canada’s partnership in building Canada House, which stands proudly in central Jerusalem serving as a beacon of hope for poor and lonely children and elderly of the Holy City.

IFCJ Canada funds the space that is used for activities and classes for at-risk youth and seniors in need. This center truly is a light of hope in the darkness for so many Israelis in need.

I attended the event to honour my father with a group of people so diverse that there is no disputing that these are blessed days. Together as we entered the hall – a Holocaust survivor, a Canadian Christian woman, an ultra-orthodox rabbi, a Canadian Christian former Minister of the Knesset, a religious woman from Jerusalem, and many Jewish businessmen – no one turned to look. There were no awkward whispers, criticism, or cynicism; there were only smiles, handshakes, and love.

As I looked around the room at the crowd that surrounded me, I clearly felt everyone’s passion and love for the Holy Land. I watched people cry tears of longing as they thought about Jerusalem, and I felt God smiling down on us. It was as if King David himself was joyfully singing the holy words that he wrote thousands of years ago: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

I am so proud of my father Rabbi Eckstein, not only for the honour that he received this week, but for fighting for years to make that diverse, godly, and glorious evening in Canada possible. Before my father started The Fellowship 30 years ago, there was no such thing as Jewish-Christian relations and it certainly was not acceptable to partake in interfaith dialogue or mingling. My father questioned the norm, prayed to God for direction, and then broke the barriers so that I can live in a better world.

We still have a way to go, but surely we are on the right path.

With blessings for peace,

Yael

 

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