News rocked Jerusalem this afternoon that Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) died, after suffering a massive heart attack.
Rabbi Eckstein was just 67 years old.
“I am shocked and devastated by the sudden loss of my friend and mentor Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and express my deepest condolences to his wife, Joelle, and daughters Yael, Talia and Tamar,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz, director of Israel365 and publisher of Breaking Israel News.
“Yechiel, as he liked to be called, courageously forged relationships with Christians on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people at a time when no one in the Orthodox community was willing to do so.
“He was personally responsible for not only the hundreds of millions of dollars he raised for important charity work in Israel, but more importantly, for nurturing hundreds of millions of Christian friends for the Jewish people. It is because of Yechiel that today so many Christians from around the world stand in fellowship with Israel and whom now bow their heads in sadness as we, Jews and Christians together, mourn the tragic loss of a true bridge builder.”
“Rabbi Eckstein set the standard and was a visionary in Jewish Christian relations,” said Jonathan Feldstein president of Run for Zion. “He charted a path that was bold from both a Jewish and Christian perspective. Personally he was always a thoughtful mentor and celebrated other initiatives that I brought to him for guidance when he was able to see the work he pioneered blossoming in ways I’m sure he never imagined. His death leaves a great void and big shoes to fill. His legacy is just as big.”
“Rabbi Eckstein has greatly contributed to the strengthening of relations between the various minorities who contribute to the State of Israel and served in the IDF or National Service and the Jewish majority in Israel,” said Amit Barak co-founder of the “Jerusalemite Initiative.” As former projects manager of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum – Christian Empowerment Council, the representative organization that worked to integrate Aramean and Arabic-speaking Israeli Christians into the Israeli society between 2012 and 2017 and headed by the Father Gabriel Naddaf, I remember the involvement of Rabbi Eckstein and the IFCJ which was one of the largest contributors to the forum during its 5 years activity.
A statement on behalf of Yael Eckstein said, “All of us at The Fellowship are deeply saddened and shocked. Even as we give thanks to God for Rabbi Eckstein’s life, we especially ask that you pray for Rabbi Eckstein’s family, and for all of us at The Fellowship who mourn this incalculable loss, during this most difficult time.”
Eckstein is survived by his second wife, Joelle, and three daughters Talia, Tamar and Yael, global executive vice president of The Fellowship.