Remembering a True Cornerstone

The Fellowship  |  February 15, 2019

A man using a walking machine as Rabbi Eckstein talks to a medical professional about it.

Memories and tributes have been pouring in from around the globe from the countless people whose lives were touched by Rabbi Eckstein. One recent article in the Jerusalem Post offers a firsthand memory of one of the Rabbi’s last public appearances on behalf of The Fellowship.

Eckstein’s contribution to our world goes beyond the money, although the 1.6 billion dollars that IFCJ has donated have impacted so many lives for the better. In a world in which antisemitism is metastasizing across the tissues of extremes to the centers of democracies, our ties with pro-Israel Christians are more important than ever. Fundraisers have understood from the time of the Bible that being a part of an idealistic endeavor goes beyond lip service and requires contribution. By providing the opportunity to Christians to join in helping and building, Eckstein strengthened invaluable ties of mutual respect and friendship. Where would we be without the decades of his pioneering work?

The last time I saw Eckstein was a month ago when he came to Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, one of the many hospitals that IFCJ supports. He dedicated a robotic walking machine called Lokomat, donated by IFCJ. Demonstrating the machine was 21-year old Dvir Teitelbaum, who lost his ability to walk while serving in the IDF. . . . Eckstein cheered Teitelbaum, who is, thanks to the machine, beginning to walk again. In his rich baritone, the rabbi reached for his guitar and serenaded the staff of therapists and visitors with “On the Summit of Mount Scopus.”

Later, Eckstein went down to a new construction site in the parking lot of the hospital, bent over and shoveled dirt to help lay the cornerstone of the new rehabilitation center that will serve soldiers and civilians in Jerusalem. With his usual good humor, he pointed out that his last name, Eckstein, means “cornerstone.” Then he began singing again, this time a beloved line from Hallel, the song of praise. 

Even maasu habonim…” The stone the builders rejected has become the main cornerstone.”

May his memory be for a blessing and inspiration.