August 13, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
As I told you several weeks ago, my biography, written by respected author and journalist Zev Chafets and published by one of the largest publishers in the world, Penguin Random House, was released on August 11. Titled The Bridge Builder, the book gives an honest account of the triumphs and many challenges that went into founding the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
Today, I want to offer you a short excerpt from the book that describes my early career, and how I came to discover the amazing wellspring of support for Israel that exists in the Christian community:
“…Yechiel Eckstein and the evangelical Christian community were made for one another…In mainline churches, he got a polite but often distant response. The evangelicals were different. At Baptist and Pentecostal churches, Eckstein found himself embraced as a long-awaited brother, a representative of God’s chosen people. “I wasn’t the first rabbi to meet with the cardinal or the big ministers,” says Eckstein. “But I was the first Jew most of the evangelical pastors had ever met.”
Very few American Jews regard themselves as “chosen people” in the literal sense…Orthodox Jews do believe in God and the concept of being a holy people, but they are not inclined to seek validation from Christians of any denomination or variety. Eckstein was raised to feel this way too. Yet he couldn’t help noticing how responsive the evangelicals seemed, how eager they were to help him do his job by supporting Israel, Soviet Jewry, and other Jewish issues. Considering his mission, reaching out to them seemed like a practical thing to do. But there was more to it than simple pragmatism. Eckstein, to his surprise, found himself moved by their sincerity, their religious passion, and their unconditional love for God, Israel, and the Jewish people.
Today, I remain just as moved – perhaps even more so – as I was then by the love for God, Israel, and the Jewish people that I see among The Fellowship’s supporters. Together, we have done so much good over the years. We have helped so many needy Jews around the world, participated in bringing Jews back to their biblical homeland where they can live openly and freely as Jews, provided love and care to Holocaust survivors who might otherwise have been forgotten, and so much more. It is you, my friends, who have made that happen, and I want you to know I will always be grateful to God for it.
If you’d like to learn more about my new biography, you can find out at bridgebuilderbook.com. Please accept my heartfelt thanks, and may God bless us all with his most precious gift, the gift of shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President
P.S. – Please know that I receive no money from the sale of the book and that all profits go directly to The Fellowship for ministry purposes.