Rabbi’s daughter raises $118 million for Israelis in poverty

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been extremely effective at alleviating poverty among Israel’s poorest citizens.

By World Israel News Staff

Despite Israel’s well-earned reputation as the world’s “start-up nation,” with billion-dollar IPOs and tech innovation at the forefront of the Jewish State’s exports, a staggering amount of Israelis are poor.

According to Israel’s Social Security Institute, almost 2 million Israelis — more than one in five — live under the poverty line.

But one NGO, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, has been extremely effective at alleviating poverty among Israel’s poorest citizens.

Led by Yael Eckstein, the daughter of the Fellowship’s founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the organization reported that it raised a whopping $118 million for poor Israelis in 2019 alone.

Eckstein, who was born and bred in Skokie, Illinois, made Aliyah several years ago and is now based in Jerusalem.

She started from the ground up at the organization, working in the mailroom and working her way up to positions with greater responsibility.

“We followed a very non-traditional path when it came to transitioning” leadership of the organization, Eckstein told the Washington Times.

“I didn’t go to courses and different things for the transition. My father never sat down with me and opened the books and said, ‘this is what you need to know, my daughter, in order to lead the organization.’”

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Instead, after her father’s untimely death in 2019, she took the reigns of the organization and spearheaded a campaign that raised more than $100 million for Israel’s poorest citizens.

“I think Yael is filling her father’s shoes so wonderfully,” Eli Beer, president of United Hatzalah of Israel, told the Times.

“She has taken on the role with such passion and dedication, and she has brought in many new supporters and partnerships with amazing organizations.”

Founded in 1983, the organization positions itself as a facilitator of a “spiritual opportunity” for donors.

The Fellowship’s site quotes God’s promise in Genesis 12:3 to “bless those who bless Israel” as an encouragement to donors.

Eckstein cited the $500 monthly stipend for retirees in the Jewish state, explaining that the amount wasn’t enough for elderly people, including Holocaust survivors and IDF veterans, to live comfortably.

“Those are the people that we’re targeting specifically,” she said.

“We’re bringing them food, we’re finding elderly who meet that criteria, we’re coming to them and saying the Fellowship is going to bring you food every single week for the rest of your life.”