History


The Fellowship has been blessed by God with a rich history of bringing Christians and Jews together and helping millions of Jewish people in Israel and around the world. Journey with us through IFCJ history – we hope you’ll be inspired by the great things God has done!

Building Bridges Between Jews, Christians – May 16, 1983

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein founds the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews to fulfill his vision of building bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews.

Rabbi Endorsed by Christian Leaders, Publishes Book – August 10, 1984

The first Day of Christian and Jewish Solidarity with Israel is held with supporteres who include Dr. Pat Robertson and Dr. Jerry Falwell. Rabbi Eckstein authors book on “What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism.”

Welcoming Ethiopian Jews to Israel – January 8, 1985

6,000 Ethiopian Jews are airlifted to Israel in Operation Moses, a dramatic mission that prompts The Fellowship to help fund resettlement programs for new Ethiopian immigrants.

Jewish Soviet Dissidents Released from Prison – February 11, 1986

The Fellowship plays a significant role in rallying support for the release of Soviet Jewry.

Holyland Fellowship Promotes Israel – September 30, 1986

Seminar tour to Israel kicks off a major effort to increase tourism to Israel and help the Israeli economy by marketing Israeli products.

Rabbi Appears on TV to Discuss Jewish-Christian Relations – April 3, 1987

Rabbi Eckstein makes regular appearances on television and radio to discuss subjects that include Israel, Jews, Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations. His goal is to end the vicious cycle of intolerance and prejudice that has marked relationships between Christians and Jews for centuries.

The Rabbi Is On the Air! – February 15, 1988

“Ask the Rabbi,” The Fellowship’s nationally syndicated radio program, begins airing on predominantly Christian stations. It is seen as a breakthrough in religious broadcasting.

Puerto Rican Christians Learn from the Rabbi – October 12, 1989

Rabbi Eckstein addresses more than 2,500 Christians at a nationwide Feast of Tabernacles event in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On Wings of Eagles Takes Flight – October 1, 1990

The Fellowship launches On Wings of Eagles to bring Soviet Jews to Israel following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. An emergency campaign is launched and raises funds from the Christian community to pay for “Freedom Flight” airlifts from the former Soviet Union to Israel.

Christian Broadcasters Visit Israel – February 28, 1991

Rabbi Eckstein leads a delegation of major Christian broadcasters to Israel in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm.

The Fellowship Becomes Truly International – September 1, 1991

The Holyland Fellowship becomes the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Welcoming Home Russian Immigrants – January 1, 1992

The first group of Russian Jews is airlifted to Israel by the On Wings of Eagles program, which has since brought hundreds of thousands of Jews to Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Argentina and other distressed countries.

Opening Doors with the Media – February 7, 1992

The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles produces the television program, “While the Doors Are Still Open,” hosted by Pat Boone.

Welcoming Home Ethiopian Immigrants – December 1, 1993

Operation Exodus — The Fellowship presents an additional $100,000 to bring Ethiopian Jews home to Israel.

1000th Russian Jew Arrives – January 1, 1994

The 1000th Russian Jew from The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles program arrives in Israel.

Joining Together as Christians and Jews – November 29, 1994

The first Evangelical-Jewish Leadership Congress is held in Washington, DC. The theme of the event is “Building a Moral Society Together as Christians and Jews.”

Shared Values of Christians and Jews – December 9, 1995

The Fellowship opens the Center for Jewish and Christian Values in Washington, D.C., under the chairmanship of Senators Joseph Lieberman, Dan Coates, and Sam Brownback.

Stop Religious Persecution – January 1, 1996

Operation Alert is launched to fight religious persecution around the world.

Lifesaving Aid for the FSU – January 1, 1997

The Fellowship’s Isaiah 58 program is created to provide food, clothing, medical help and other lifesaving aid for orphans and elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.

Bringing Home Ethiopians – January 12, 1999

$2 million is donated by evangelical Christians to rescue the Jews of Kwara, Ethiopia, and bring them to Israel through the On Wings of Eagles program.

More Outreach in Jerusalem – January 1, 2000

The Fellowship’s Jerusalem office opens. The Guardians of Israel program is launched to help families suffering from poverty and terrorism in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.

Terror Spreads Across Israel – January 1, 2001

The second Palestinian intifada begins in Israel. The devastation wrought by suicide bombers motivates The Fellowship to establish the Israeli Victims of Terror Fund.

5 Million Christians Pray For Israel – January 1, 2002

Stand for Israel is initiated by The Fellowship in order to mobilize U.S. churches, Christian leadership, and individuals to express their solidarity with the Jewish state through prayer and advocacy. The first International Day of Prayer and Solidarity with Israel mobilizes millions of Christians around the world to pray for Israel.

North Americans from Over 20 American States Arrive in Israel – July 9, 2002

The Fellowship helps establish Nefesh-B-Nefesh, which is Hebrew for “soul to soul,” and is an organization that encourages immigration by Jews to Israel from North America and other English-speaking countries.

Bringing Hope to the FSU – January 1, 2003

The Fellowship supports more than 200 programs in Israel and the former Soviet Union, including food and housing for the sick elderly, orphanages, rape crisis centers, distribution of coats for needy children, soup kitchens, security vehicles, spiritual centers for Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, job training and more

Welcoming IFCJ-Canada – January 1, 2003

Rabbi Eckstein founds the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada, a sister organization to The Fellowship in Chicago and Israel.

World Leaders Stand for Israel – April 2, 2003

Rabbi Eckstein and Ralph Reed organize the Stand for Israel Washington Briefing, a two-day strategic conference in Washington, D.C. to bring together key U.S. government leaders, Israeli government officials and pro-Israel Christian leaders from across the United States.

Stopping Terror One Seat at a Time – January 1, 2004

Operation Safe Bus is launched to safeguard public buses that transport as many as 1.7 million Israelis each day.

Mel Gibson’s Film Brings Conversation – January 1, 2004

Rabbi Eckstein publishes “A Jewish Response to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ” and “Understanding Evangelicals: An Introduction for the Jewish Community.” These white papers, the first two in an ongoing series, provide unique insights to thousands of readers.

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem – October 17, 2004

Millions of Christians in thousands of churches in the United States and other countries participate in the third annual International Day of Prayer and Solidarity with Israel.

Do Christians Support Israel? – January 1, 2005

Rabbi Eckstein publishes “The Growing Church Calls for Divestment from Israel—a Jewish Response,” a commentary that examines the widening rift between mainline Protestants and the Jewish community and the growing strength of the Jewish-evangelical alliance.

Goodwill Spreads to Latin America – January 1, 2005

Rabbi Eckstein is appointed as the State of Israel’s Goodwill Ambassador for Christian communities in Latin America.

Protecting Israeli Citizens During the Second Lebanon War – January 1, 2006

The Fellowship’s Guardians of Israel program is the first organization to deliver emergency food and supplies for people living in bomb shelters during the Second Lebanon War.

Soup Kitchens Bring Hope – January 1, 2006

The Fellowship’s Guardians of Israel program funds a network of soup kitchens, Meir Panim, throughout Israel.

Building Bridges With The Jerusalem Post – February 1, 2006

The Fellowship partners with the Jerusalem Post in launching their Christian edition of the magazine.

Bringing Home Iranian Jews – November 27, 2006

The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles program helps 200 of the Bnei Menashe, descendants of the biblical tribe of Manasseh living in India, and 200 Iranian Jews, make aliyah to Israel.

Jewish Orphans Know They Are Not Alone – January 1, 2007

Isaiah 58 expands its work to help Jewish orphans, street children and Jewish kids living in poverty.

Bringing Home Immigrants From Arab Lands – January 1, 2007

On Wings of Eagles expands its work to help Jews from Arab and Muslim lands return to Israel.

Building Bridges With Latin America – January 1, 2007

Preguntale al Rabino (Ask the Rabbi) Spanish-language radio program is launched on 135 stations in over a dozen Latin American countries.

New TV Series Hosted by the Rabbi Joins Christians and Jews – August 1, 2007

Journey to Zion, a groundbreaking television series hosted by Rabbi Eckstein that provides educational information about the Jewish roots of Christianity, is launched on networks across the U.S.

The Fellowship Visits Israel – November 1, 2007

More than 100 Fellowship supporters visit Israel as part of the annual Journey Home Tour to Israel.

Renovating Bomb Shelters in Israel – January 1, 2008

The Fellowship’s Guardians of Israel program renovates 32 public bomb shelters in Sderot, which for years has suffered daily rocket attacks.

Happy 25th Anniversary to The Fellowship! – September 22, 2008

The Fellowship celebrates its 25th year of building bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews.

Holocaust Survivors Know They Are Not Alone – January 1, 2009

The Fellowship distributes more than $10.5 million to assist 27,785 Holocaust survivors in desperate need in Israel, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and Europe.

The Fellowship Cares for Their Employees – May 20, 2011

The Fellowship is voted one of the “Top 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For” by The Non-Profit Times.

Congratulations, Yael! – November 14, 2011

Yael Eckstein is appointed as The Fellowship’s Senior Vice President.

Building Bridges With South Korea – September 20, 2012

The Fellowship establishes a new affiliate in South Korea.

Emergency Aid to Southern Israel – November 15, 2012

The Fellowship distributes a $2.7 million aid package to cities in southern Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Rescuing Jews in Ethiopia – August 28, 2013

The Fellowship helps make possible the final aliyah of Jews in Ethiopia, members of the Lost Tribe of Dan.

Needy Elderly Know They Are Not Alone – September 1, 2013

The Fellowship launches our With Dignity and Fellowship program, which provides food, medicine, and companionship to the neediest elderly in Israel. This is the first program The Fellowship runs entirely on its own, without partnering with any other organization to staff, supply, or sustain the program.

Ongoing Support for War-torn Ukraine – February 27, 2014

The Fellowship provides more than $1.7 million to aid Ukrainian Jews during a period of extreme civil unrest.

Protecting Israeli Citizens on the Ground – July 22, 2014

The Fellowship distributes more than $3.4 million to provide aid to Israelis in need during Operation Protective Edge.

Freedom Flights Show Immigrants We Care – December 22, 2014

The Fellowship launches our own aliyah program, which is initiated by two flights bringing hundreds of Jewish refugees from war-torn Ukraine to Israel.

The Bridge Builder: The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein – August 11, 2015

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s biography, The Bridge Builder, by Zev Chafets, is published by Penguin Random House.

Aliyah to Israel Nearly Triples – December 5, 2016

The Fellowship nearly triples its share of overall aliyah (immigration to Israel), becoming a dominant force for Jewish immigration to Israel in nine of the countries in which it is active.

Drones Protect Israeli Communities in the South – September 17, 2017

Our supporters help us fund security drones for Israeli communities that face increasing terror threats.

The Fellowship Hosts its First-Ever Gala – March 25, 2018

The Together in Fellowship Gala is held at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Christians and Jews from around the globe gather to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary and The Fellowship’s 35 years of strengthening Israel and her people.

Happy Anniversary to Israel and The Fellowship! – May 14, 2018

The Fellowship celebrates its 35th year of strengthening Israel and her people, as Israel marks her 70th anniversary of independence.

Rescuing the Persecuted – July 15, 2018

As Christian communities in the Middle East are being decimated by terrorists, The Fellowship helps to fund a medical clinic on the ground for Christian refugees who fled to Jordan, as well as provide food and housing assistance.

Yael Eckstein Appointed Fellowship President – February 6, 2019

Yael Eckstein transitions into the role of president of The Fellowship, answering God’s call to continue the rich legacy that her late father, Rabbi Eckstein, left behind.

Fellowship Founder and President Rabbi Eckstein Passes Away at 67 – February 6, 2019

The Fellowship mourns the passing of our founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and pledges to carry on his work of supporting Jewish people in need around the world and building bridges between Christians and Jews.

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