Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein devoted his life to helping Jews around the world and forming alliances with Evangelical Christians, raising over a billion dollars to strengthen Israeli communities.
By World Israel News Staff
At the age of 67, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein suddenly died from heart failure on Wednesday. His funeral is set for Thursday in Jerusalem. Eckstein leaves behind the organization he founded in 1983 and helped build, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).
In his role as president of the IFCJ, Eckstein raised hundreds of millions of dollars to aid Jewish communities in Israel and across the world, focusing on improving the plight of impoverished Jews wherever they are found.
Eckstein also earned a reputation as a trailblazing bridge-builder, connecting with Evangelical Christians and helping them show support for Israel through their contributions to Jewish causes. Over the course of his career, Eckstein helped the IFCJ raise more than $1.4 billion dollars.
Among the causes Eckstein devoted special attention to were Holocaust survivors, impoverished seniors, orphans, IDF soldiers, and new immigrants to Israel. The IFCJ remains instrumental in providing food packages to these demographics during holiday times, in addition to funding bomb shelters near the Gaza and Lebanon borders and providing critical medical equipment to Israeli hospitals.
Eckstein sat on the faculties of a number of top institutions, including Columbia University and the Chicago Theological Seminary, and was named to Newsweek’s list of 50 Most Influential Rabbis in the U.S. on multiple occasions.
Notwithstanding the over $1.4 billion dollars he raised for various causes, Eckstein faced criticism from certain figures within the Jewish community who were uncomfortable with forming close ties with Evangelicals.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog issued an immediate response to Eckstein’s death, lamenting, “The Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora lost this evening a leader who worked for us for many years through his wonderful life’s work, which he established with his own hands,” reported the Jerusalem Post.