Holding Onto Faith Over Fear

April 10, 2017

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Dear Friend of The Fellowship,

I condemn the massacre at the Coptic Church in Tanta, Egypt that took place this past Sunday. It was a horrible and inhumane act against an innocent minority population that was attending the Palm Sunday prayers. This event is similar to the seder night massacre at the Park Hotel that took place exactly 15 years ago.

Christians throughout the Middle East have been slaughtered and persecuted in recent years and we must work together to protect them and their heritage. The Fellowship works in Israel to strengthen the Christian minority, which is flourishing under the Israeli government. The state of Israel enjoys the support of millions of Christian supporters of Israel around the world. It is important that we respond to this support with practical and moral actions for those who need us.

Equally as disturbing, the scenes out of Syria last week broke my heart. While children slept in their beds, chemical bombs were dropped from planes, killing at least 10 children and dozens of adults, and causing serious injuries to hundreds more. The footage of frightened and confused toddlers being treated with oxygen and struggling to breathe was painful to watch. But we cannot – we must not – turn a blind eye to such cruelty and oppression.

These horrific events came as Jews around the world are preparing to celebrate Passover, which began April 10th at sundown. At Passover we recall the biblical Exodus, when Moses led the Jewish people from oppression in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land, Israel. It was a sign of God's favour toward His chosen people, and marked the birth of the Jewish people as a nation.

Certainly, as we look at the world today, there are so many people enslaved by circumstances they played no part in creating. There are the people of Syria, caught in the midst of a devastating civil war. In war-torn Ukraine, there are tens of thousands of Jews – many of them Holocaust survivors – who live in poverty that is almost unimaginable. Christians in the Middle East daily fear violent attacks from extremists. And the list could go on and on.

Christians and Jews together, must remain vigilant in our insistence that the violence perpetrated by war and extremism is unacceptable. We must continue to observe our holy days, having greater faith in our God than we have fear of our enemies.

In this season celebrating God’s miraculous rescue, let us pray fervently that He bestow his precious gift of shalom, peace, on the people of Syria, on the Jewish people, on suffering Christians, and throughout the entire world.

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

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