As you know, my father, my Abba, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, passed away a week ago. His passing was unexpected, the result of a heart attack that no one could have predicted. In keeping with Jewish tradition, my family spent the past seven days “sitting shiva,” sitting in mourning, at my father’s home in Jerusalem. It has been a difficult week for my family and me as we try to come to terms with this incalculable loss.
I want to thank you for all of the beautiful messages and blessings that so many of you have sent to us — I know your heart is broken too over the loss of your Rabbi. Since day one, my family and I have felt surrounded by your love and support. Your words have held us up, comforted us, encouraged us, and carried us through this painful time. Truly, “because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:22).
Thirty-six years ago, God placed a calling on my father’s heart, and now He is leading me to that very same calling. Thirteen years ago, I caught the vision that my father had, and I share his dedication to building bridges between Christians and Jews. Under my leadership, The Fellowship will continue to be a trusted partner in effectively bringing biblical prophecy to fruition.
I want you to know that although the loss of my father has forever changed our lives, nothing has changed for the recipients of our aid. Not one elderly person went without medication, not one child went hungry, and not one person booked on a Freedom Flight had their ticket cancelled, since my father’s death. In fact, at the same time that we were eulogizing my father at his funeral, a Fellowship-sponsored plane full of Jewish olim (immigrants) — thanks to your support — landed in Israel where they began their new lives.
We are so fortunate that over the last five years, my father put together a system that works efficiently and can function without him. We have assembled amazing professionals that handle every detail — from making sure that thousands of elderly receive food and medicine each day to organizing aliyah flights that bring Jews home to Israel. I am so proud of our dedicated staff that has not missed a moment of providing the same assistance to the needy as we always have — and always will. For years, my father has watched proudly as his organization operated effectively and efficiently without needing his direct involvement.
We are also fortunate that my father had the foresight to prepare me for leadership. For the last three years, my father has mentored and guided me. He handed over many of the responsibilities that were once his and made sure that I knew how to handle any situation. He gave me opportunities to act as a leader and taught by example how to lead.
Most importantly, my father gave me his trust and blessing and I hope that you will too.
Around a year ago, the board of directors of The Fellowship selected me as president-elect, which means that I would automatically become President of The Fellowship when my father no longer assumed that position.
I am both humbled and honoured to step into my new position of President and continue the work that my Abba began.
Today my family and I “got up from shiva” — we completed the seven days of intense mourning. We visited my father’s burial site and said our final goodbyes. As I look back on my father’s incredible legacy, I know he always believed that God was simply doing His work through him. Today, I feel God’s calling on my own heart — as I have for some time — and know that He will continue this sacred ministry.
I pray that God will speak to your heart to continue to stand for our brothers and sisters in need. Please continue to pray for us and partner with us in fulfilling God’s Word. Together we will honor my Abba by continuing his holy work until the time that the “sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in [Jerusalem] no more” (Isaiah 65:19).
With blessings from the Holy Land,