Thirty-six years ago, my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founded The Fellowship. He was the first to venture into the unknown territory of Jewish-Christian relations and to determine that a relationship was not only possible, but also beneficial and desirable to both Christians and Jews. At the time, it was a radical idea – one that brought my father a lot of opposition, some of it very vocal.
There is no way that my father could have brought his vision to fruition on his own. God guided his heart to the right people with the same heart and similar ideals. He was able to collaborate with close friends and supporters like Pat Boone, Pat Robertson, and Jack Hayford.
With their partnership, my father turned an idea into a reality even greater than he imagined. Today, Christian-Jewish connections are widely acknowledged and accepted. However, without the enthusiastic participation of those who supported The Fellowship in the beginning, it is unlikely that we would be where we are today.
Ever since that time, the values of collaboration and partnership have been guiding principles for The Fellowship. When we see a need that is not yet being addressed, we find and implement a solution. However, if there is a program already in place that fills a need, we seek collaboration. In this way, we ensure that struggling people receive maximum assistance in the most effective way possible. The result is that more people receive more help.
Here’s a case in point: Though The Fellowship has been involved in helping Jews make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) for decades, five years ago, my father noticed that there was not enough assistance for Jews who wanted to make their home in Israel. At the time, there was only one existing organization to help Jews all over the world.
The worldwide rise in anti-Semitism, the aging of Holocaust survivors, and political instability in many countries created a demand for even more assistance for new olim (immigrants). Our response was to create an aliyah program in 2014 that it made it possible for Jews, even in the most complicated and difficult of situations, to make it home to Israel safely and with sufficient support.
Thanks to God’s help and with backing from Christians around the world, since that time, The Fellowship’s direct aliyah operations have brought nearly 20,000 olim (immigrants) from 36 countries – and counting – home to Israel.
Yet, as my father taught me, often there’s a way to expand our aid by working with the right partner. Recently, I approached the Jewish Agency, the organization charged with bringing Jews home to Israel. After a productive meeting, we agreed to work together on initiatives that provide greater opportunities to new olim and strengthen the ability of each of our organizations to fulfill its mission.
In that same spirit, The Fellowship will continue to seek out strategic partners, both large and small, so that we might grow exponentially greater together. Moreover, as always, we will work in the spirit of togetherness, united in service to God with all who wish to join us. Alone each of us can do something, but together we can accomplish anything.
Everyone benefits from partnership. No wonder God said, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). Thank you, my friends, for truly standing in unity with Israel and the Jewish people.
Tags: Christians IFCJ Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein The Fellowship Yael Eckstein