Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
It’s hard to convey the mood in Israel right now. The past weeks have been filled with terror attacks on our sidewalks and streets – Palestinian terrorists driving their cars into crowds of Israelis, throwing large stones at cars of families driving home, stabbing a rabbi on his way to the Western Wall to pray, shooting parents in front of their own children. The attacks have been on a smaller scale than they were during the Second Intifada. But the one-on-one, face-to-face nature of these attacks have made them more personal, more brazen and shocking. And the effects have been far-reaching. Israel is, to put it mildly, on edge.
We feel it in The Fellowship’s Jerusalem office, where we have given all our employees pepper spray, and where many of our staff have started calling each other every evening to be sure they made it home safely. One of our female staff members who lives in Judea recently decided to buy a gun to help protect her children and herself. “I feel scared and nervous about the fact that I even think I need a gun,” she said, “and I have faith and full hope that I will never have to use it.” My daughter Yael’s rabbi and his wife lost their son and daughter-in-law when they were brutally shot to death in front of their four children as they were driving in their car, a loss she grieves and contemplates every time she climbs in the car with her own three children.
A stabbing took place just a minute’s run from our staff member Eva Geller’s house, and she is understandably scared to take her dog for a walk in her Jerusalem neighborhood. She calls her mother every morning and evening to make sure she’s made it safely to work and home, feeling a stab of panic when she doesn’t answer right away. “We deserve to sleep in quiet, to drive calmly, to walk quietly in the street. Not to live with anxiety as the routine of our lives,” Eva says. “I pray that the cafés will once again be filled with life, that children will go to school without fear, and that people will be able to put their fears aside and continue to live their lives.”
Staff member Miriam Lock shared her perspective as a longtime Israeli resident, “In the 32 years since my aliyah (immigration to Israel), I have lived through both wars and terror attacks. I thank God my family and I have stayed safe, but people I know have been wounded or killed. I have sat with my baby at midnight in a room sealed against missiles, ran into our laundry room at the shrill sound of a siren (our house was not built with a security room), and cried in sorrow and frustration. I have been to funerals of fallen soldiers and victims of terror. But despite what may sound like a very grim reality, the light and hope of living in Israel has always outshone the pain and fear. The positives have always overcome the negatives. The beauty has always been so much greater than the ugliness.”
And part of that beauty has been the outpouring of prayers and support from you, our Fellowship friends. Thanks to your faithful generosity, we are able to respond immediately to help support the many victims whose normal lives have been abruptly interrupted. The victims and their families are faced with a new reality and difficult rehabilitation. They also face significant financial costs, and we will support them as part of our commitment to the security of Israeli citizens during times of emergency.
In the past days we have been working closely with senior public security officials here in Israel to ensure that the victims of terror and their families will not have to incur the costs of hospital transportation, therapists, psychologists, and other medical care, and that they will also be reimbursed for lost workdays. This aid is only possible thanks to the thousands of Christian supporters, like you, who are always there to help the citizens of Israel during difficult times, reminding us that we are not alone.
As we cautiously walk our sidewalks and drive our streets, nervously watch the news to hear the names of the latest victims, and pray fervently to God for His strong hand of protection on us all, your support means more to us than it ever has, more than you will ever know.
With prayers for unity and shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President and Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada