Ye’shi Reinhardt, who tirelessly reached out to trauma victims and others in need from war-damaged Israeli economies, has died.
Described as intense and compassionate, Reinhardt died after landing in New Jersey on Thursday on his way to commence a summer-long speaking tour in the United States. His passing brings the total to three prominent Messianic leaders who have died in the past two weeks including pastor Eddie Santoro and intercessor Eliyahu Ben-Haim.
In 1992, Reinhardt founded Hands of Mercy, a humanitarian aid organization dedicated to helping victims of terror attacks, feeding the hungry and the homeless and providing various kinds of care to people living in the “war-damaged economy” of southern Israel. The organization was based in Jerusalem at first during the intifada, but as rocket attacks on communities near the Gaza border became a near daily occurrence, Reinhardt moved his base of operations to Sderot, one of the frequently attacked cities in the south.
Hands of Mercy also reaches out to those who suffer from PTSD due to living under attack or the constant threat of attacks. His organization provides animal therapy for children, holiday entertainment and food for families, dental care, food for soup kitchens, an outreach to the homeless, and care for people with specialized cases.
According to information from Hands of Mercy new leader, Yariv Goldman, Reinhardt — who grew up in Michigan — served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, an experience that marked him for life. Reinhardt was 72, according to the date of birth listed on his Facebook account.
“He exemplified the strength on how to turn personal trials and sufferings experienced into strength for doing good,” Goldman wrote. “Instead of living a life of victimhood, he chose to work tirelessly to help those who experienced similar traumas of war that he went through.”
As news spread of Reinhardt’s death, the internet was flooded with memories and accolades for his work.
“My brother and true friend, a brave warrior and generous soul who always gave his life for others,” said Elhanan Ben Avraham. “We’ll miss his Shabbat stays at our home and his always smiling face. A light has gone out of the world, and one of the shining stars in my sky is gone-higher.”
Many friends and acquaintances took to social media to bless Reinhardt’s memory and remark on the life-changing experiences they had through working with him. Several people spoke of his passion and his genuine love for people.
“He did not have children nor was given in marriage but the Israelis whom he knew and rubbed shoulders with loved him dearly, They knew that he was a listening ear and had a heart for them,” Renee Shmuel of Ima’s Goodies wrote. “He will be missed greatly.”
Reinhardt was never married but he poured “110 percent of himself into every situation… Hands of Mercy was his ‘child’ in which to do good and leave a legacy of purpose. He put all he had in it,” Goldman said.
Just before he left for America, in the last two weeks, Reinhardt legalized Goldman’s status to take over Hands of Mercy should anything happen to him.
“It was as if he knew, like he felt maybe he wasn’t returning, Goldman said. “He prepared everything and handed over the reins to put me as the head of the organization. He even organized his office, which he never does, right before he left.”
Goldman worried about joining, saying his evangelistic approach could upset people Reinhardt had built solid relationships with over the years.
“Before I agreed to take over I said this could cause you problems because you have good relations with the religious people in Sderot,” Goldman recalled. “I’m all for works of mercy … but I do it in the name of Yeshua. … He told me, on the contrary, he wants to see more fruit, he wanted something more evangelistic.”