Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and a dual Israel-American citizen, passed away suddenly at his home on Wednesday of cardiac arrest at the age of 67.
“I am in shock, and so sad,” said former Knesset member Dov Lipman, also a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. “A heart that gave and gave and gave stopped working. This great man … helped bring so many Jews back home. May his memory be a source of blessing for all who knew him and were touched by him, and may his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”
The IFCJ, founded in 1983, has raised monumental sums of money to aid poverty-stricken Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, particularly those in Eastern Europe and especially those who are survivors of the Holocaust.
Eckstein created the organization to help build bridges between Christians and Jews. He raised more than $1.4 billion over the years, much of it from Evangelical Christians.
The IFJC – Keren L’Yedidut in Hebrew – has provided support for Jews in the form of food and other items, especially around the Jewish holidays, but also provided assistance to enable struggling Ukrainians to come to Israel on aliyah.
Eckstein also provided considerable assistance to Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, especially in the area of security around Chabad Houses, and around the homes of the emissaries themselves.
Yeshiva University said in a statement, “We mourn the untimely passing of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein z”l (YUHS 68, YC 73, BRGS 75, RIETS 75), son of Beila, husband of Joelle, father of Tamar, Talya and Yael, brother of Ahuva Epstein (SCW 70), Rock (Rachayl) Davis (SCW 75) and Beryl Eckstein YUHS 75, YC 79)… May Hashem comfort the family with all those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.”
The funeral is set to take place Thursday at Eretz HaChaim Cemetery in Har Tuv (near Beit Shemesh) at 1:00 pm. Shiva is to take place at 29 Revadim, Arnona, Jerusalem.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.