President and Founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, z”l passed away Wednesday in his Jerusalem home. Eckstein was 67 years old. The ministry released a statement following his death expressing their sadness for his loss but their gratitude for his life.
The Fellowship wrote, "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. Yechiel forged unbreakable bonds of Christian-Jewish friendship and unity around a shared love for Israel that will stand as his timeless legacy."
According to the press release, Eckstein founded The Fellowship in 1983 and spent his life working to help low-income Israeli families, Holocaust survivors and toward "strengthening the State of Israel and the Jewish people."
In the past four years leading up to his death, Eckstein was working to help relocate and resettle more than 17,000 immigrants to Israel struggling with "economic hardship, persecution, and terror in 31 countries." Eckstein was also working on building a global center for Christians in Jerusalem.
Eckstein's loss was felt around the globe. Many prominent figures of faith and dignitaries have voiced their sadness for his loss.
In remembrance of his humanitarian efforts, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement about Eckstein noting that he was “a great man, a great Jew and a great Zionist."
Christian Broadcasting Network's Pat Robertson said of Eckstein, “Yechiel has been a pioneer and champion of Christian/Jewish relations for decades”.
Christians United for Israel's John Hagee noted the powerful impact Eckstein had through his efforts to bring the two faith communities together. He said, “His impact on the state of Israel and on bringing Jews and Christians together will be felt for generations.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Eckstein's funeral was held on Thursday and hundreds of thousands of people -- including dignitaries -- came out to pay tribute to the great man.
His daughter Yael paid tribute to him by noting his devotion to his family, Israel and his work. She said, "Your life was dedicated to other people’s happiness… you dedicated your life to chessed [acts of kindess] and you will be praised for doing so."
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