Founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews overcame longstanding tensions and brought in $140 million a year for Holy Land projects.
Evangelicals have lost a major partner and friend from the Jewish community, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who died suddenly today at his home in Jerusalem. He was 67.
Inspired by God’s promise in Genesis 12:3 to bless those who bless Israel, Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) worked for decades to improve relationships between the two faiths and raise more than $1.4 billion for projects in the Holy Land, mostly from evangelical donors.
“His impact on the state of Israel and on bringing Jews and Christians together will be felt for generations,” Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel and one of the biggest voices for Christian Zionism in the US, said in a statement to the Times of Israel. “I pray God brings comfort to the Rabbi’s family during this very difficult time, and I know that his memory will be a blessing to us all.”
Eckstein engaged more than 6,600 US churches, and more than a half-million people, around understanding and advocating for Israel and its people. Because of IFCJ, more than 730,000 Jews moved back to Israel, including Eckstein himself, who moved to Jerusalem in 2002.
“Undeniably through IFCJ, Eckstein has constructed a bridge linking evangelicals, Jews, and Israel,” CT wrote in a 2009 profile of Eckstein, nicknamed The Ultimate Kibitzer. “He has been a trailblazer on an uncharted path of showing ways the two faiths can cooperate on behalf of shared biblical concerns. He has brought evangelical and Jewish politicians together in Washington, D.C. He has spoken out against religious persecution abroad and has traveled to China on behalf of imprisoned Christian pastors.”
Eckstein founded IFCJ in 1983 …