I wish you a happy and blessed New Year! As we work to support Israel and serve Jewish people in need around the world, all of us at The Fellowship are deeply grateful to the faithful friends who make our work possible. During 2011, thanks to God's blessing, The Fellowship's lifesaving assistance was extended to more people than ever.

As I consider the year ahead, it is evident that it will be filled with great challenges. Israel's situation remains perilous on many fronts. Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to issue threats against Israel, even as the Islamic Republic grows closer and closer to having nuclear capabilities. Recently the Iranian army chief even issued a brazen threat to the U.S.

The Palestinian Authority (P.A.), now emboldened by its acceptance last fall into UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, is seeking additional U.N. memberships in its ongoing quest for statehood and international legitimacy as if legitimacy can simply be granted instead of earned with consistent actions marked by integrity, honesty, and diplomacy.

Direct talks between Israel and the P.A. resumed earlier this week for the first time in 16 months, though the meeting was preceded by P.A. President Abbas’s warning that if Israel doesn’t accept their demands and terms for the peace talks he would be forced to take “hard measures.”

It is easy to become overwhelmed with news of the threats Israel faces — and easy to forget the good things that happen there every day because of our supporters' generosity toward Israel and the Jewish people. For instance, last year, thanks to our On Wings of Eagles program, thousands of Jews made aliyah to their biblical homeland, escaping poverty and oppression. New bomb shelters were placed throughout Israel, meaning that the Israeli children, families, and elderly will be safe in the event of a future attack. Through The Fellowship's Guardians of Israel and Isaiah 58 programs, we fed more hungry Jews in Israel and the former Soviet Union this year than ever before.

I believe our faith calls us to believe that Israel will prevail despite her difficulties. This does not mean we should cultivate an optimism that ignores evil or historical facts. Israel, more than most nations, knows the folly of such cheap optimism. No, I speak of the sort of hope expressed best in the words of the psalmist: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2).

It is our hope in a benevolent God Who never forsakes His children — a God Who is at all times sovereign not only over our lives, but over the entire world — that is the only remedy for our worldly cynicism. My friends, in the year to come let us recommit ourselves to bettering our world through prayer, material support, and action. On behalf of all of us at The Fellowship, I thank you for your generous heart for God's children.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein