The thousands of Jewish refugees who have made aliyah (immigrated) thanks to Rabbi Eckstein's life work are not the only people he brought to the Holy Land. Christianity Today's Kate Shellnutt remembers the Rabbi's mission of bridge-building while overcoming centuries of distrust and division as he moved Christians to stand for Israel, as well:
Inspired by God’s promise in Genesis 12:3 to bless those who bless Israel, Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) worked for decades to improve relationships between the two faiths and raise more than $1.4 billion for projects in the Holy Land, mostly from evangelical donors.
“His impact on the state of Israel and on bringing Jews and Christians together will be felt for generations,” said John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel and one of the biggest voices for Christian Zionism in the US, in a statement to The Times of Israel. “I pray God brings comfort to the Rabbi’s family during this very difficult time, and I know that his memory will be a blessing to us all.”
Eckstein engaged more than 6,600 US churches, with more than a half-million people, around understanding and advocating for Israel and its people. Because of IFCJ, more than 730,000 Jews moved back to Israel, including Eckstein himself, who moved to Jerusalem in 2002.
“Undeniably through IFCJ, Eckstein has constructed a bridge linking evangelicals, Jews, and Israel,” CT wrote in a 2009 profile of Eckstein, nicknamed “The Ultimate Kibitzer.”
“He has been a trailblazer on an uncharted path of showing ways the two faiths can cooperate on behalf of shared biblical concerns. He has brought evangelical and Jewish politicians together in Washington, D.C. He has spoken out against religious persecution abroad and has traveled to China on behalf of imprisoned Christian pastors...”