A Crazy Question and an Audacious Answer

A Crazy Question and an Audacious Answer

In celebration of Rabbi Eckstein’s biography, The Bridge Builder, enjoy an excerpt from this compelling book about the rabbi’s life and continuing legacy.

General Yitzhak Gershon, a former Israeli commander, was the American point man for FIDF. In the spring of 2013 he came to the New York Hilton to discuss money. He is the kind of soldier Yechiel dreamed of becoming—a brash sabra with a hail-‹fellow-‹well-‹met persona. Most Israeli general officers do academic training in engineering or the sciences; Gershon has a degree in public relations.

At a table in the coffee shop, Gershon quickly ran down the aid for needy soldiers his organization had received from The Fellowship in the previous year: holiday baskets of food for the soldiers and their families, allowances for civilian clothing, and direct funding for personal and family expenses. “There are three thousand soldiers who have been able to remain in the army because of your help,” he told Eckstein. “I talked to the director general today and he personally asked me to tell you that.”

“Wonderful,” said Eckstein, beaming.

“Next year we want to expand our aid, take care of more soldiers,” Gershon said. “We are hoping for one million dollars from you.”

Eckstein nodded. “All right.”

“But,” said Gershon, as though he had just thought of it, “you can’t have a program like this for just one year. It has to be continuous.”

“That’s true,” Eckstein said.

“So I’m going to ask you to commit to a million dollars a year for five years,” said Gershon. They had been speaking in Hebrew, but for this he switched to English. Sometimes it is easier to ask for money in somebody else’s language. Eckstein is aware of that; he recalls with distaste his own early years at The Fellowship, begging millionaires for a few thousand dollars. He smiled at Gershon and said, “You got it. Anything else?”

Gershon rolled up his shirtsleeve. “The hair on my arm is standing up,” he said.

Learn more about Rabbi Eckstein’s biography.

Visit Amazon to order your hardcover copy of The Bridge Builder, or order a copy for Kindle.

Tags: IFCJ IFCJ in the News

More From Fellowship Blog

Fellowship Blog

Project Spotlight: Hesed Homecare Workers

Hesed means lovingkindness in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what Hesed homecare workers provide when they visit elderly shut-ins who need help with daily tasks as well as caring companionship.

Fellowship Blog

Remembering the Holocaust — Not Just History

As we remember the millions who died during the Holocaust, Yael Eckstein takes us to a cattle car that would have carried Jews just like her to their deaths during this dark chapter of history.

Fellowship Blog

75 Years Ago, Auschwitz was Liberated — Here’s How the World Is Remembering

Even as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, we are inspired to know the world hasn’t forgotten and that the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation is being commemorated by many across the globe.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay informed about issues affecting Israel, the Jewish people, Jewish-Christian relations, receive daily devotionals, and more.