Yael's Holy Land Reflections

Our Shared Heritage of Seeking Justice

January 21, 2020

Dear Friend of The Fellowship,

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed annually on January 27, we proclaim “Never Again!” Yet, the increase in anti-Semitism in the US, Canada, and around the world has many people asking if history could repeat itself. Today, Jews are increasingly being harassed, beaten, and even murdered in broad daylight.

I truly never thought I would see this day: anti-Semitic sentiments, of the sort seen in Germany prior to the Holocaust, coming alive on the streets of New Jersey; propaganda similar to what the Nazis spread being distributed on college campuses in California; and Jews being physically assaulted simply for being Jewish, while some people indifferently stand by. There was a 16.5 per cent increase in anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism, and violence in Canada last year.

For the first time in my lifetime, I see the possibility of darkness overcoming the light. Not just in Israel, but in Canada and the United States. And as bad as things are for some Jews in North America, they are even worse in parts of Europe.

The Light of Hope

Yet, in spite of this gloomy picture, there is hope for the Jewish people. This isn’t 1939 in pre-war Germany. It’s not the 1800s, when pogroms and blood libels saw countless Jews massacred and Jewish towns destroyed across Europe. It’s not 1648 during the Chelminski Massacres when Cossacks murdered and tortured hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews. Nor is it 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella initiated the Spanish Inquisition, demanding Jews to convert, leave, or die at the stake.

Today is a different era. Two major differences exist today that have not existed at any other time in the history of Jewish persecution. They are the reasons why I believe that history will not repeat itself, and that a new destiny awaits the Jewish people, and indeed the entire world.

The first difference is that today, we have the state of Israel. For the first time in 2,000 years, the Jewish people live as an independent nation in our homeland. The establishment of Israel in 1948 was a game-changer for the Jewish people. We have a place of refuge. Moreover, Israel has a strong economy and innovative technology, and we are making great contributions to the global community.

Our Christian Friends

The second difference today is that for the first time in history, the Jewish people have friends. There are millions of Christians around the world who not only stand with Israel and the Jewish people in their hearts, but stand up for Israel, speak up for Israel, and work in so many ways to ensure Israel’s safety and survival. For the first time, Jews do not stand alone. We have Christian friends who have proven time and again that they will not desert us in our time of need. From humanitarian aid, political support, and prayer on our behalf, our Christian friends have blessed Israel and the Jewish people immeasurably.

This year on International Holocaust Memorial Day, as we proclaim “Never Again,” let us remember that this phrase depends largely on us. With God’s help, light will overcome the darkness that threatens us all. But God depends on us to be His agents of light. It is our job to shine the light of His love and illuminate our world with justice. And let us pray for the day when we will turn our swords into ploughshares and all of mankind will live together in peace.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

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Yael Eckstein

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