Through his work with The Fellowship, he has devoted his life to building bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews and building broad support for the state of Israel. The Fellowship raises more than $140 million annually, via its millions of Christian donors, and through its existence has raised more than $1.4 billion for programs helping Jews in Israel, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, Ethiopia, and other countries around the world.
Rabbi Eckstein’s compassion and help is not directed toward Jews only. He is also a champion of religious liberty throughout the world, highlighted by his traveling to China to try and secure the release of imprisoned Christian pastors, and, more recently, The Fellowship’s work on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
One of The Fellowship’s visions is to create understanding and dialogue between Christians and Jews – to try and repair nearly two millennia worth of discord and replace it with respect and cooperation. Rabbi Eckstein shows his commitment to this goal as a leading international Bible scholar. His lessons help Christians deepen their bonds with the land of Israel and the Jewish people. His messages and educational pieces on the IFCJ website also explain Jewish approaches to many aspects of life: Jewish law, Israel, festivals and Shabbat, and much more.
Eckstein is also a prolific author of books promoting understanding between Jews and Christians, and explaining aspects of Jewish faith, life, and observance. In addition, Eckstein has also recorded several CDs of Jewish music. In 2015, his authorized biography, written by renowned journalist Zev Chafets and titled The Bridge Builder: The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, was released.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has been featured in several news outlets, both faith-based and publications for Israel news:
A key area of The Fellowship’s work is in the former Soviet Union, in particular, Ukraine. Since 2014, when Russian-backed forces annexed Crimea, The Fellowship increased its efforts in this area. Over the course of nearly four years, The Fellowship has enabled thousands of destitute Jews – whose lives have been threatened by the ongoing conflict and growing anti-Semitism – to make aliyah (literally “ascend”) to Israel. At the end of November, The Fellowship enabled hundreds of new immigrants for whom there is no future in Ukraine to start a new life in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Upon their arrival, Eckstein said, “we are doing everything possible to help these people start a new and safe life in Israel, which was and remains the home of everyone who belongs to the Jewish people.”
Strengthening the state of Israel through aliyah has been a consistent IFCJ goal, and Eckstein’s love for the land – shown through his life’s work – has helped facilitate this. For more than 20 years, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been helping Jews to make aliyah and has invested more than $200 million in bringing approximately 750,000 immigrants to Israel. Over the years, The Fellowship has been a major contributor to the Jewish Agency and helped to establish the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization.
The work that Rabbi Eckstein and the Fellowship do has been acknowledged and rewarded.
Eckstein has been named among the 50 Most Influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post and included multiple times on Newsweek’s list of the 50 Most Influential Rabbis in the U.S. The U.S. Congress honored Rabbi Eckstein for his interfaith bridge building. He has also received numerous awards from various organizations around the globe, including the prestigious Raoul Wallenberg Award. He has been the recipient of the government of Israel’s award for Special Contribution to the Welfare of the People of Israel, the Man of the Year award from the Federation of Jewish Communities (presented to him at the Kremlin in Moscow), the Jerusalem Prize by the Economic Forum and more than 100 additional honors and awards from various other groups, including Chamah, Colel Chabad, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Hadassah, and more.
Rabbi Eckstein has made it his life’s work to take a uniquely Jewish message out into the world, particularly to evangelical Christians. It would appear that despite a fine and long-standing record of achievement that he isn’t ready to stop any time soon.