A Crazy Question and an Audacious Answer

A Crazy Question and an Audacious Answer

Rabbi Eckstein’s biography, The Bridge Builder, released last week. In celebration, 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 Fellowshipin 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 at bridgebuilderbook.com.

Click here to order your hardcover copy of The Bridge Builder, or click here to order a copy for Kindle.

Tags: IFCJ IFCJ in the News

More From Fellowship Blog

Fellowship Blog

Filling the Vacuum

Fellowship partner Shlomi Peles of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the FSU writes to the Jerusalem Post not only to lament Rabbi Eckstein's passing, but to laud the bright future of The Fellowship.

Fellowship Blog

How Audrey Hepburn Saved Jews During the Holocaust

Tracing the Hollywood star's roots in the Netherlands, her covert activities against the occupying Nazis, and how she helped save Dutch Jews.

Fellowship Blog

Project Spotlight: Yad LaKashish

In Israel, the group that perhaps has it hardest of all is the poor, elderly immigrant population. Learn how The Fellowship helps through Yad LaKashish.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

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