Rabbi Eckstein’s biography, The Bridge Builder, releases on August 11. Until then, enjoy a sneak peek from this compelling book about the rabbi’s life and continuing legacy.
Of all Eckstein’s Christian mentors, it is possible that [Pat] Robertson was the most influential. Robertson invited him to come to Virginia Beach to appear on The 700 Club TV talk show. “We met before the show. I told him I had just read his book Shout It From the Housetops! and that I was in awe of what he had built. I asked him how he had done it. He said, ‘It was all God’s doing.’
And then he said, ‘Yechiel, I believe God is in your work and I will pray for your success. I want to be part of it and I will pray for you.’ I remember walking out of that meeting feeling distraught and discouraged. Here I was without a full-time secretary or a real salary and all I was going to get from him was moral support. I needed money and he had it, but I didn’t ask. I didn’t have the temerity, although I felt that I had missed an opportunity.
But when I got back to my office in Chicago, there was an envelope waiting for me. I opened it and found a personal check for $10,000 and a note from Pat: ‘Yechiel, I want to walk with you on this.’ ”
It was the beginning of a long relationship that played a key role in realizing Eckstein’s vision. “From the first time we met, I saw Yechiel as an extraordinarily attractive young man with a heart for reconciliation between Jews and Christians,” says Robertson. “I had been trying to build bridges to the Jewish community for years, and he was doing the same thing. And I don’t know of anyone who has done this more effectively.”