Fundraising rabbi Yechiel Eckstein dies suddenly aged 67

His International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raised millions of dollars from evangelists for Israel and Jewish causes


Yechiel Eckstein, a rabbi who raised millions of dollars in funding for Israel particularly from Christian evangelists in the United States, has died suddenly at the age of 67.

Rabbi Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) in 1983 to support social causes in Israel and the wider Jewish world.

The organisation attracts as much $120 million in contributions and grants every year.

“We are in shock and mourning the loss of our visionary leader, rabbi, friend and colleague. Rabbi Eckstein was a giant in the Jewish and Christian communities, a man who devoted his every moment to helping Israel and the Jewish people,” the IFCJ said in a statement.

“Yechiel forged unbreakable bonds of Christian-Jewish friendship and unity around a shared love for Israel that will stand as his timeless legacy.”

IFCJ services included providing heaters and support for elderly people living in Israel and the former Soviet Union and extracurricular activities for children in southern Israel living in range of rocket fire from Gaza.

Tributes were paid as news of his death was announced.

World ORT's Avi Ganon said: “Thanks to the Fellowship's generosity, ORT was able to operate its schools in the Former Soviet Union and other countries, and thousands of children were able to receive a Jewish education.

“Thanks to the Fellowship's operations, these children can enjoy a hot meal and transportation to and from school.”

US Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach said his son's bar mitzvah earlier this week had featured a speech by Rabbi Eckstein, suggest his passing had been sudden. 

Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League said he was “a tireless worker for the Jewish people and for Israel.”

Meir Klifi-Amir, national director of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, added: "He leaves behind a tremendous legacy for us to continue his crucial work, bringing together Jews and non-Jews in support of Israel and her guardians – the men and women of the IDF.”

His funeral will take place in Jerusalem on Thursday.

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