Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and
Jews, since 1983, a bridge-building organization to
promote greater understanding between the two faiths
Author, The Journey Home (2001, Shavti
Host of several television and radio programs aired
throughout the U.S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Int'l Fellowship of
Christians & Jews
30 N. LaSalle Street,
Chicago, IL 60602
Log on to www.ifcj.org
or call 1-800-486-8844 for your free brochure, "Five
Ways To Be A Blessing to Israel," and your free
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein: Bridging
By The 700 Club
In February 1992 Yechiels friend, Evangelical Christian
pastor Jamie Buckingham passed from this life at the young age
of 59. Jamie had visited Israel frequently and loved Israel and
the Jewish people. Yechiel and Jamie often spoke of traveling
to the Promised Land together. Unfortunately, that trip never
happened. After Jamies death, Yechiel was approached by
a respected Christian writer with the idea for Yechiel to tell
his bridge-building story through a metaphorical trek up Mount
Sinai, which never actually took place. Telling the story would
not only honor Jamies memory but also inspire other Christians
and Jews to stretch out their hands to one another in respect
Yechiel says his book represents the ideal and vision he has
been trying to bring about for the past 25 years. "Christians
and Jews can walk together on separate paths, hand in hand, up
Mt. Sinai and accept Gods Word," he says. There is
no other setting, he explains further, for both Jews and Christians
to be united. For Christians, Israel is the place where the biblical
drama unfolded, where it will be completed, as well as where Jesus
walked. For Jews, Israel is the center of the world. For both,
it is the Promised Land.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Misunderstanding and prejudice between Jews and Christians remain
today due to a lack of communication between the two groups. Issues
inevitably arise that create tension and ill will between the
communities. Yechiels International Fellowship of Christians
and Jews (IFCJ) was founded in 1983 to counter the 2,000 years
of ignorance, mistrust and antagonism. The mission of the Fellowship
is to reverse this discord and replace it with a relationship
marked by dialogue, better understanding, friendship and active
cooperation on issues of common concern.
The IFCJ educates Christians and Jews by encouraging members
of both faiths to embrace their shared values and morals while
affirming their own religious beliefs. They also provide Christians
with opportunities to express their financial support of various
programs offered through the Fellowship. One such program, On
Wings of Eagles, helps Russian Jews emigrate from the former
Soviet Union to Israel and also assists poor, hungry, elderly
and orphaned Russian Jews. Christians also have the opportunity
to provide immediate and emergency needs of the poor in Israel
through other IFCJ programs.
Yechiel also takes every opportunity to resolve and mediate disputes
that may arise between Christians and Jews. Recently, New York
Knicks basketball star, Charlie Ward, a professed born-again Christian,
was reported to have made a statement in a Bible study that the
"Jews crucified Christ." After that story made the front
page of the New York Times and a serious attack by the
NBA commissioner, by chance, Charlie and Yechiel shared a mutual
friend who contacted him for assistance in the volatile situation.
The mutual friend gave Charlie a number to contact Yechiel. "Charlie
called me and said he never intended to be insensitive,"
says Yechiel. "He wanted to learn more about the Jewish faith
and agreed to commit to a learning process." Part of this
process, Yechiel says, begins with Charlie reading his book, The
Journey Home, as well as several face-to-face meetings and
a trip to Israel together. "This will be the trip I was never
able to take with Jamie," says Yechiel. "Sometimes from
bad things can come good."
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