Rabbi’s Commentary

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Speak Out and Protect the Innocent

Apr 27, 2016

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Dear Friend of The Fellowship,

IFCJ’s work comprises three main missions: helping Jews in poverty with food, medicine, shelter, and a host of other essential services; providing security for Jews and Jewish communities around the world; and providing aliyah (immigration) and klitah (resettlement) for Jews around the world who want to make a new life in their biblical homeland, Israel.

While each of these jobs is critically important, it is the second – providing security – that has weighed heavily on my mind of late. In the past few months I have received frantic calls from the heads of Jewish communities in many countries asking if The Fellowship can help bolster security for their people. One look at the news explains why in the past couple of years we’ve seen violent extremist attacks in Belgium, Ukraine, France, Turkey, and Tunisia with multiple attacks in many of these countries – and increasing threats, along with other attacks around the world. Not all of these attacks target Jews specifically. But Jews have been targeted, and continue to be targeted often enough in Israel, to know that they must always be vigilant, and that they are always a target of radical hatred.

I was moved by the concern and urgency in the pleas of these Jewish leaders, and pledged that The Fellowship and our supporters will do all we can do to help. And I have traveled to many of these places to witness firsthand the need, and how these communities are surviving in the midst of the challenges they face.

Morocco is just one example. Last month I had the distinct honour of celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim with Morocco’s ancient Jewish community. Once numbering about 250,000, it has now dwindled to just over 2,000 people. It was very emotional to celebrate with this once-thriving Jewish community. It must be our mission to provide assistance to those who need our help and to work with local authorities to protect Morocco’s Jews. I look forward to increasing The Fellowship’s support to Jews around the world and pray for the day when that help will no longer be needed.

The courageous Christian Pastor Martin Niemöller, who during World War II spent years in Nazi concentration camps for his opposition to Hitler’s evil regime, once wrote, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

It is our duty, and biblical imperative, to speak out, to protect the innocent, and to realize that it is the job of Jews, Christians, and free people everywhere, who are united by a belief in democracy, freedom, and pluralism, to fight this scourge. And with your prayers and support, that is just what we will do.


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

 

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