Sunday, January 15, 2017


Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the President and driving force of his International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, is, as readers well know, a genius at both fund raising and self-promotion. Never satisfied with the mere glory of raising hundreds of millions from Evangelical Christians addressing the needs of the Jewish People, as Eckstein decides those needs; never reaching sufficient honors and publicity for his incredible good works; the Rabbi is always looking for new publicity worlds to conquer and, in doing so, to bring glory to his work and himself.

Back in 2001, Eckstein published a poorly reviewed autobiography, but, having expanded his philanthropic empire over the next 14 years, in 2015 he had his organization fund author Zeev Chafets's apparently made as instructed hagiography*: The Bridge Builder -- The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Here's the Kirkus Review:


Celebrating a controversial rabbi’s life.
The problems with writing an authorized biography are glaringly evident in this life of Eckstein. Chafets (Roger Ailes: Off Camera, 2013, etc.) is forthcoming about his relationship to both his subject and this book. His advance was partly underwritten by the International Federation of Christians and Jews, an organization Eckstein founded and heads; and his royalties will go to that organization. Eckstein was the author’s major source, but, adds Chafets, “that is not the same as saying that this is an ‘as-told-to’ book,” noting that when Eckstein vetted the manuscript, he asked for only one change: the removal of “an unflattering remark he made about a relative.” Nevertheless, the book reads like an as-told-to biography, with Eckstein’s point of view and opinions dominating the narrative and with no attempt by Chafets to contextualize or analyze the man he so greatly admires. In the 1970s, Eckstein took a position with the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago, where he discovered, to his great surprise, that evangelical Christians harbored “unconditional love for God, Israel, and the Jewish people.” Like Eckstein, they believed that the “creation of a Jewish state in Israel (and its defense by the United States) was a sign of God acting in history and fulfilling biblical prophecy.” Eckstein immediately saw an opportunity for bridge building and, most crucially, fundraising. Supported by Pat Robertson, Jimmy Falwell, Pat Boone, and Billy Graham, Eckstein rose to prominence on televangelist programs and speaking tours. He founded the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which eventually became the IFCJ, funneling major contributions to Jewish and Israeli causes. The author portrays Eckstein’s many critics (including his first wife) as narrow-minded, and he echoes Eckstein’s views about Israeli politics and Christian Zionists.
In 2001, Eckstein self-published a fictionalized autobiography; here, Chafets furthers the rabbi’s efforts to publicize and burnish his image."
I don't know if the book has been a best seller, though I doubt it, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the IFCJ has purchased 1,000's of copies.

And, notwithstanding the reality that Rabbi Eckstein should be incredibly satisfied by the awesome results of his/IFCJ's remarkable charity, he felt compelled to invite a JTA correspondent to join him on some form of "junket" to France. The results were clearly not what the Rabbi might have expected exposing, as it did, his ego in fullest bloom. The article in The Jewish Week --  -- Raising Christian Money for Jewish Causes a Star Rabbi Earns Praise and Scorn was subtitled: Yechiel Eckstein's Paris Blues. 

One can only conclude from all of this that Yechiel Eckstein believes in the mantra "any publicity is good publicity" especially if one's picture is in it. unnecessary. Because as Yechiel should know so well, his good works speak for themselves, if only he would let them.

Then, last month, JDC, pushing its financial "partnership" with Eckstein hard, offered:
"This year, on the third night of Chanukah at the local JDC Hesed social welfare center in Odessa, volunteers – many who receive assistance from the Hesed themselves – took to the stage, singing and dancing to help bring a little bit of that hope to local elderly residents. The community joined together to light the menorah and enjoy latkes as part of a holiday meal, which included a video blessing from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) – without whom there’d be a little less light this holiday season."
A "video blessing." Oh my.

I admire so much the accomplishments of the IFCJ, so much of which -- almost all, in fact -- is the direct result of Eckstein's vision and execution. One would think, however, that an Orthodox Rabbi would understand and live by Maimonidean principles of charity or, if he prefers given his donors, Jesus's. The constant and always insatiable demands that accompany Rabbi Eckstein's allocations of his donors' funds, always end badly -- for the then United Jewish Appeal, for Keren Ha'Yesod, for the Jewish Agency.

What organization will incur the wrath next? Just askin'.


* Curiously, Chafets was hired to polish Eckstein's image even after he wrote a scathing report on the Rabbi in 2005:


Anonymous said...

What is the point of your raging hatred?

Your hatred for Jerry Silverman and all things JFNA has spread to all who voted against your boy from Chicago and his legacy.

And now it spreads once again to an ad hominem attack on a man who has made sure that tens of millions of dollars go to Jews worldwide that have been forgotten or underserved by existing agencies. Who on earth cares about his publicity?

(As an aside, Why don't you pick a clearly corrupt target like the Claims Conference and all the various Israeli entities that manage funds of holocaust victims?)

Why are you so old and bitter, waking up on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday morning, not to enjoy this world's bounties, not to go to your local synagogue and give thanks, but looking for another reason to act like an angry old man?

Can I suggest you would be happier otherwise?

RWEX said...

Beautiful thoughts, thanks Anonymous for your encouragement.

Continue to think those happy and totally confused and baseless thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Richard, why would you publish the Comment of someone with such rage that he first claims you "hate" Silverman and then conflates what you've written about JFNA and Silverman with what that jerk claims to know pos your politics. (And all of that in a paragraph almost incomprehensible.) The only "hate" is in this person's diatribe.