Monday, March 12, 2018


Well if ever there were two names you might have thought someday you would read in the same sentence, I guess it would be this President of the United States and that Chairman for Life of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Hmmm, do they have anything in common?

This unusual pairing was highlighted by an article in Haaretz last month. Reporter Judy Maltz captured the setup perfectly. Evangelical-funded Israel charity hopes to cash in by getting cozy with Trump. The only thing missing from the headline was Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein's name -- missing, that is, to Rabbi Eckstein himself.

OMG how this philanthropy, grown on the backs of tens of thousands of small contributions, often in cash, from Evangelical Christians into a prodigious fund-raising machine that is now extending far over its skis with Eckstein's ambition-driven intent to hold a mega-event at Mar-a-Lago, of all places...Mar-a-Lago. Boy-oh-boy, the IFCJ is in the big time now. Ignoring the fact that since Trump's election charity-after-charity has canceled planned events at Mar-a-Lago, the Fellowship is there anteing up the six figures to rent the place.

And, while there are other venues in South Florida, far less expensive, the tease for Mar-a-Lago is that maybe the President will drop in...and I have no doubt that Rabbi Eckstein will be hovering by the door, praying for a Trump appearance, and that the Presidnt will offer some remarks in which he will acknowledge Rabbi Eckstein in his own way.

This event could be, may be, if the President does a stop and chat, a career capper for the Rabbi. Oh, the days are long past -- I'm sure forgotten -- when Yechiel was satisfied by a large blow-up of a small check accompanied in a photo op by leaders of Chicago's JUF, then UJA, then JAFI, then Keren Ha'Yesod, now JDC -- meetings with a succession of Israeli Prime Ministers and Presidents and, if it all works out, a fleeting moment, the biggest yet, a brief encounter with the Donald.

Now, the cynic in me (a living thing, really) would suggest that the event at Mar-a-Lago, and the six figures to rent the place, is strictly to salve the insatiable ego of Rabbi Eckstein. Yet, when last he and I met, Yechiel assured me that he didn't need to have his ego stroked, he wanted "out of the limelight." After all, he recently named his daughter Yael as Executive Vice President and under "Leadership" on the IFCJ website there are now two names and two names only -- Yechiel and Yael. Well, that's progress. Then, again, there was that April 2017 article: Rabbi Eckstein Raises Millions for Israel's Poor, and Don't You Forget It.

For those of you who are not familiar with Yechiel, you might wish to consider the  2015 Zeev Chafets-authored hagiography Bridge Builder: The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, which has the literary and historical merit of The Art of the Deal. But always remember that Eckstein heads an incredible fundraising operation that even after its first "down" year, is producing more to aid Israel's population most in need than any other. 

So, perhaps, you will want to join Rabbi Eckstein and the IFCJ at Mar-a-Lago. As reported in Haaretz:

"The event, Eckstein noted, is scheduled to begin at 5 P.M. – an hour that was chosen carefully. 'That will give the president time to hang around before he needs to head back to Washington,' he said."
As the Rabbi might add, "Let us pray."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such narishkite!