Experiencing God’s People and Creation in Canada
July 7, 2015
Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
Last week as you celebrated Canada Day, I was reminded of a vacation I took five years ago to the beautiful Rocky Mountains. My wife Joelle and I spent the entire trip in awe of the beautiful vistas God has created in Banff and Lake Louise.
Before arriving in Alberta I had the chance to visit Ottawa, where I grew up. My father was the Rabbi for Congregation Beth Shalom on Chapel Street. I was moved to tears when greeted at the door by members of the congregation. Cantor Daniel Bendolo and I broke out in song — tunes that I hadn’t sung for years and I was astonished that I remembered every word!
I also had the opportunity to meet with Maurice and Suzanne — donors from Worship Intercessory Ministries in the Ottawa area — who supported our On Wings of Eagles ministry. They reached out to Jews looking to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel), first supporting Ethiopian Jews, and now, like many of you, are providing for our historic Freedom Flights allowing Ukrainian Jews to fly to a new homeland in the Holy Land from their war-torn region.
With thanks to caring Canadians like you, we join with our fellow international offices in the U.S., Brazil, South Korea, Australia, and Jerusalem to recognize The Fellowship now being the largest philanthropic organization in Israel today.
Our Canadian Board of Directors recently met in Calgary and I was able to speak with some of our Fellowship partners and church leaders.
Stockwell Day, IFCJ Canada’s Board Chair, embraces my vision to bring our two faith communities together in support of those in need in Israel, Ukraine, the former Soviet Union, and other parts of the world where anti-Semitism is on the rise. I am thankful for Stockwell’s commitment and leadership as well as my fellow board members in Canada.
What a magnificent opportunity Canada gives me during each trip to experience the beauty of God’s creation – and how fortunate I feel during each visit to experience the warmth of the Canadian people, their bold and unwavering support for Israel, and the continued growth of The Fellowship’s ministries. I am reminded of the words of two of my favourite Psalms: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1), and “How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
My childhood years in Canada were special times for me. I believe it was then that God paved the way for me to follow the same path my father followed by becoming a Rabbi. And I firmly believe that God continues to guide The Fellowship, our dedicated staff and faithful friends, and myself as we work together to support Israel and build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.
With prayers for unity and shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein