Dear Friend of Israel,
The Jewish people are now in the middle of a period known as “The Three Weeks.” Historically, these 21 days leading up to the holiday of Tisha B’Av (which begins this year at sundown on Saturday, July 25) have been a time of calamity and misfortune for the Jewish people. During this period throughout history, both the First and Second Temples were destroyed, wars began, Jewish families were thrown out of their homes, and pogroms (organized massacres of Jews) killed off entire Jewish communities. At this time of year, we look back at these tragedies and grieve.
Now we also grieve for the continued threats leveled at Israel by her enemies, for the plight of suffering Jews in Ukraine, and for the continued rise in anti-Semitism around the world. We look with sorrow and deep concern at Christian communities in the Middle East that are under siege by extremists.
And yet, even as we mourn, we recognize that we still have a duty to engage in the blessed act of tikkun olam – “repairing the world.” That is why The Fellowship, thanks to the overwhelming outpouring of generosity by our donors, is providing regular Freedom Flights to Israel for Jews in war-torn Ukraine. It is why we continue to expand our work in Israel, providing those in need – Jews and Christians alike – with essential services they so desperately need. It is, in short, why The Fellowship does its work – because God tells us to help the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed, to do our best to repair a broken world. All of this critically important assistance is only possible because of the support of Fellowship friends like you.
The Three Weeks is certainly a time of solemnity and reflection. But it is also a time of hope. Jewish tradition holds that someday this period will one day become a time of rejoicing, not sorrow. During this time, we take comfort in God and His promise. Our hope in God is what keeps us from falling into despair as we remember past tragedies – and as we cope with the tragedies happening in our world today.
As we all face the challenges and tragedies in our individual lives, and as we pray that Israel and her people will one day soon see realized their dream of living in peace, may we do so with our eyes fixed on God, and our feet firmly planted in the hope and comfort He freely offers us.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Chairman, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Australia