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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’

Limmud FSU Gets Major Boost in Collaboration with Fellowship

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Saturday night, two organizations committed to strengthening Jewish identity and connection to Israel, announced a new global and long-term partnership. Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (the Fellowship) are joining together in order to enhance and develop the activities of Limmud FSU and expand the organization worldwide, according to a joint release.

Limmud FSU is a nonprofit founded eight years ago by Chaim Chesler, former treasurer of the Jewish Agency; Sandra Cahn, philanthropist from New York; and Professor Michael Chlenov of Moscow, to serve young Russian-speaking Jews around the world. The organization operates in seven countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, USA, Canada and Israel. Key partners include the JDC, philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, Aaron Frankel, Diane Wohl, UJA-Federation of New York, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Education, the Jewish Agency and others.

The Fellowship was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel and other shared concerns

As part of the new collaboration, the Fellowship will be a key partner in Limmud FSU, and will provide funding that will allow the project to hold conferences around the world, among other activities, and engage more participants, most of whom are young Russian-speaking Jews.

President of the Fellowship Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein will join Limmud FSU’s leadership as dean and member of the executive committee, alongside Matthew Bronfman, chairman of the International Steering Committee, and Aaron Frenkel, Limmud FSU president.

Bronfman and Rabbi Eckstein made the official announcement during the Limmud FSU conference which is currently taking place in Parsippany, N.J.

The conference is the largest gathering of Russian-speaking Jews in North America, attracting over 800 young participants from the U.S. and Canada. There are an estimated 750,000 to 1 million Russian-American Jews in the U.S., half of whom are living in New York and New Jersey. The entire conference is organized by young volunteer participants from the Russian-Jewish community.

Within the framework of the new partnership agreement, which was signed for an initial three years, Limmud FSU has already begun to build an infrastructure for activities among Russian-speaking communities in Australia and the West Coast of the United States.

The first Limmud FSU conferences will take place in those locations in 2015. The new partnership will also allow the organizations to hold eight conferences over the course of 2014 (an increase of 25% over last year), including the first Canadian conference, to be held this October in Toronto.

Limmud FSU was established, the release explains, to offer young Russian Jews around the world a unique and independent community, an educational and cultural framework that helps strengthen Jewish identity and connection to Israel, deepen involvement in Jewish communal life, and empower activists to build the next generation of Russian-speaking Jewish leadership in the Diaspora and in Israel.

Limmud FSU has revolutionized pluralistic Jewish engagement of Russian-speaking Jews, who are often described as marginally engaged in Jewish life, and is making a great impact in strengthening Jewish identity through a unique educational experience of Jewish history and culture.

The organization seeks to renew the tradition of Jewish learning with conferences and festivals of Jewish and Israeli study, arranged and produced by volunteers. All conferences and festivals offer diverse and multi-disciplinary programs including lectures, workshops, master classes, musical performances and cultural events in three languages: Russian, English and Hebrew.

“We are proud of the new strategic partnership with the Fellowship, and hope that it will allow us to grow and expand our important activities among Russian-speaking Jewish communities around the world,” said Matthew  Bronfman, of Limmud FSU.

IFCJ Denying Report on Netanya Charity Rejecting Donation

Friday, March 1st, 2013

A major charity organization in the city of Natanya, Kupat Tzdaka Merkazit (Central Charity Fund), has refused to accept a pre-Purim gift of 100 thousand shekel (roughly $27,000) from Keren Hayedidut (The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews), administered by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The reason for the rejection, according to the local magazine HaShabat B’Netanya, is the fact that the fund’s money comes from Evangelical Christians.

The donation, according to the magazine, was contingent on the Netanya charity posting a large sign on its office wall announcing the fact that they are supported by the IFCJ – which members of the Netanya organization, after a debate, deemed unacceptable.

But the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews said it was “surprised to read the article mentioning an organization that rejected our funds. The fellowship receives numerous requests for funding from hundreds of organizations from all sectors in Israel and distributes funds according to professional criteria. We never offer funds to organizations who did not apply for it and we do our best to provide aid to populations and people in distress.”

The IFCJ, founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein—an Orthodox rabbi—who remains its central force, has been the subject of criticism from both Haredi and National Religious Jews, who view it as a promoter of missionary activities.

Many have argued that the IFCJ’s strategy is to gain the Orthodox Jewish public’s trust, and so to break down the Jewish cultural barrier and earn a legitimacy for the Christian faith in those circles.

It has also been argued that the reason Evangelicals are supporting the State of Israel is rooted in their belief that it is a phase in the process of Christian redemption, and that at some point in the future the Jews will “see the light” and embrace Christianity.

HaShabat B’Netanya offered a long list of past and present Orthodox scholars who decreed against accepting money from the IFCJ, including the late Rabbis Avraham Chana Shapira, Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, Mordechai Eliyahu, and, may they live a long and healthy life, Rabbis Ovadia Yosef, Nissim Karlitz, Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, Simcha Ha’Cohen Kook, Dov Lior, and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

Back in 2007, the Jewish Agency signed a cooperation agreement with IFCJ, which called for the American organization to raise $50 million for aliya and absorption projects, and in return the fund was to get a Christian representative on the Jewish Agency’s board of directors. This was discovered by the anti-missionary organization Lev La’achim, which campaigned against it along with other Jewish groups, until the deal was stopped.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has coined the term “Christian Zionism,” and has engaged for three decades in fostering good Christian-Jewish relations, with an eye to the generosity of Christians, particularly the Evangelicals.

“Christian Zionism exists today in America but it did not happen by itself,” he told an interviewer in 2012. “When I first started meeting Evangelicals, I was the only Jew in the field and often, I was attacked by both communities.”

Eckstein says that his extensive media outreach to the Evangelical community, with hundreds of infomercials emphasizing the joint “Judeo-Christian” connection to the Bible and promoting tourism to the Holy Land, has changed things considerably.

“I would like to believe that we played a significant role in fostering relations by directing their biblical attention to walking where Jesus walked and highlighting the Jewish roots of Christianity,” Eckstein said, adding that he was grateful for having had the foresight to see the potential that “nobody else could see.”

An IFCJ official wrote The Jewish Press Online: “Our policy has always been to be as generous as possible with those who are in need and we do not force our funds on anyone, ‘lo rozeh lo zarich’ (you don’t want, you don’t have to). Moreover, we never heard of the organization mentioned in the article nor have we offered it any funds.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyas-largest-charity-rejects-evangelical-donation/2013/03/01/

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