JERUSALEM, Israel – In February, Israel and the world lost a champion with the sudden death of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).
Many knew him as the ultimate bridge builder. Rabbi Eckstein started IFCJ in 1983. Since then, the humanitarian organization has generated more than $1.5 billion to help Jews in Israel, the former Soviet Union, and more than 58 other countries.
Today, Eckstein’s daughter Yael is carrying on that legacy.
In a video message tape shortly before his death, Eckstein charged his daughter Yael with the mantle of his ministry.
“I miss my father. I still can’t comprehend and internalize I’m never going to see him again or get a hug from him. But I also feel a lot of light. I feel a lot of peace. I see a lot of God’s hand within the tragedy,” Eckstein told CBN News.
Yael says her dad left a rich and prophetic work for her to lead.
“Everywhere I look it’s prophetic,” she explained. “Suddenly, we have Christians bringing from the Biblical land of the north, Jewish people on wings of eagles home to Israel. That’s prophecy. That’s what Isaiah and Jeremiah — this is what they saw 2,000 years ago. They were having the visions of us sitting here in Jerusalem.”
She also talked about key Christian leaders who influenced her father’s life.
“From the very, very beginning, Pat Robertson, along with many others like Pat Boone and Jack Hayford. But the way that Pat Roberson was just passionate about it. It seemed like he was praying for this and God sent my father as an answer to prayers because he got it before my father even developed the whole idea,” said Eckstein.
Rabbi Eckstein pursued three goals: build bridges between Christians and Jews, deepen Christian understanding of the Jewish roots of their faith, and develop a practical way to help the Jewish people and Israel.
Yael believes that effort is more important than ever with the alarming rise in anti-Semitism.
“It’s in the American government. It’s no longer fringe,” she said. “There’s always been a fringe of anti-Semitism in America. You’ve always had the KKK, but they were taboo. They were ostracized … and maybe for the first time, Jews are at as much risk as Christians or should I say Christians are just as at risk as the Jews. We’re in the same boat. But it’s very clear that we are fighting a war of light versus darkness, good versus bad and everyone’s at risk of falling, that we need to stand together.”
Yael says she’s grateful for the many prayers helping her make the transition from grief to building on her father’s legacy.