International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

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International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), logo 2012.jpeg
Founder(s)Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Type501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization
Founded1983 (originally known as the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews)
HeadquartersChicago and Jerusalem
Focus"To promote understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and to build broad support for the State of Israel."
MethodRaising funds among its partners to help Jews in need and Jews living under the threat of anti-Semitism on five continents with programs which include aliyah (immigration) to Israel; providing basic necessities to needy families, the elderly and children in Israel; providing basic necessities including food, clothing and shelter to destitute Jews in the former Soviet Union; and providing informational and educational materials that help people become better advocates for the Jewish state.
Websitewww.ifcj.org
 
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International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), logo 2012.jpeg
Founder(s)Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Type501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization
Founded1983 (originally known as the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews)
HeadquartersChicago and Jerusalem
Focus"To promote understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and to build broad support for the State of Israel."
MethodRaising funds among its partners to help Jews in need and Jews living under the threat of anti-Semitism on five continents with programs which include aliyah (immigration) to Israel; providing basic necessities to needy families, the elderly and children in Israel; providing basic necessities including food, clothing and shelter to destitute Jews in the former Soviet Union; and providing informational and educational materials that help people become better advocates for the Jewish state.
Websitewww.ifcj.org

The International Fellowship of Christians & Jews (The Fellowship,), founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein in 1983 under its original name of the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews, is a worldwide organization whose stated goal is "to promote understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and to build broad support for the State of Israel and other shared concerns." [1]

Contents

History

As the national Co-Director of Interreligious Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago, Rabbi Eckstein broke new ground by forging partnerships with evangelical Christians. The Orthodox rabbi believed that despite many differences, Christians and Jews are united in their passion for many issues of common concern. And so, in 1983 Rabbi Eckstein established the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews to help Christians and Jews work together on projects "promoting the safety and security of Jews in Israel and around the world."[2]

The Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews was renamed the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in 1991.

Today, The Fellowship has hundreds of thousands of donors. The organization has raised more than $800 million for Jewish immigration and resettlement and social welfare programs in Israel, and for food, housing, and social services for needy Jews in the former Soviet Union and other places of need.

In 2003, Rabbi Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada;[3] in 2006, La Fraternidad Internacional de Cristianos y Judíos;[4] and, in 2012, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Australia.[5]

Organization structure

The organization has headquarters in Chicago and Jerusalem. It is supervised by an independent board of directors – people of both Jewish and Christian faiths – including Chairman John P. French of Orleans, MA, President Yechiel Eckstein Chicago, IL and Jerusalem, Israel, Secretary Barbara Manuel of Orleans, MA, Treasurer Edward Lasky of Northbrook, IL, and Board Members: David Clark of Azle, Texas, J.R. Dupel of Tampa, FL, Steven J. Hefter of Highland Park, IL, Andrew Lappin of Chicago, IL, Mel Myland of Phoenix, AZ, and Suzanne Peyser of Bethesda, MD.

The Fellowship is led by Rabbi Eckstein, its founder and president and one of the world's leading experts on Christian-Jewish relations. In May 2010, Israel’s Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog presented Rabbi Eckstein with the government of Israel's first-ever Award for Special Contribution to the Welfare of the People of Israel.[6] One month later, he was named to Newsweek's list of the 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America.[7]

In 2005, Eckstein, an author of six books, was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the State of Israel, with special emphasis on Israel’s relationships with evangelical communities in Latin America.

Activities

The Fellowship's outreach focuses on five major programs:

Funding

The Fellowship is recognized as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization by the IRS. It submits to examination by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. In 2004, The Fellowship was one of the first not-for-profits entitled to display the BBB Charity Seal, showing full compliance with their Standards for Charitable Accountability.[13]


Controversy

The Fellowship's interfaith work has attracted criticism from some in the Jewish community. In 2001, Rabbi Avraham Shapira issued a ruling against accepting funds from The Fellowship.[14] In 2002 the Edah HaChareidis rabbinical court issued a ruling against accepting funds from The Fellowship, and, in 2007, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss added his signature.[15]

At the end of 2009, other religious rabbis and rabbinical courts issued a ruling banning Jews from taking funds from the The Fellowship, citing worries of Christian missionary activity and idol worship. The signed rabbis and religious court are:

In response to the ruling, Rabbi Eckstein said he would "expose his organization's list of haredi-religious beneficiaries in order "to make sure everything is transparent."[14]

A July 24, 2005 New York Times magazine article by Zev Chafets notes:

“Some of Eckstein’s fellow Orthodox rabbis would like to exile him for consorting with Christians” adding, “Even those who applaud Eckstein’s philanthropies are sometimes skeptical about what he calls his ‘ministry.’ For Jews, who are used to seeing themselves as victims of bigotry, the saga of Yechiel Eckstein raises uncomfortable questions about who loves – and who hates – whom.”

For decades, according to the aforementioned article, Orthodox critics have accused Eckstein of being a closet Christian (though Eckstein has always clearly identified himself as an Orthodox Jew). Additionally, the article states that Abraham Foxman, Anti-Defamation League national director, remains one of Eckstein’s most prominent critics, accusing the rabbi of “selling the dignity of the Jewish people” by pandering to Christians.

“I’m a non-evangelical defender of evangelicals,” Eckstein is quoted as saying. “Jews have such a cynical, negative view of these people. There are all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories out there about how evangelicals only support Israel to bring on Armageddon or because they want to convert Jews to Christianity. That’s just not true.”

Related,The Jewish Observer, the house magazine of the ultra-Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America, called Eckstein’s work “a curse.”

A Feb. 24, 2009 article by John W. Kennedy in Christianity Today notes, “Good works have permitted Eckstein to reach detente with leaders of Jewish organizations who now realize that even though they have theological differences with evangelicals, the two groups share many values.”

The Christianity Today article quotes Rabbi A. James Rudin, senior interreligious advisor for the American Jewish Community, as saying, “Rabbi Eckstein is well-respected within the American Jewish mainstream. Until he came along, evangelicals and Jews were like ships passing in the night.” [18]

Timeline

Below is a timeline of The Fellowship's key events, as listed on the "About The Fellowship" webpage:

1983 Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein founds the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
1984 Dr. Pat Robertson and Dr. Jerry Falwell join Rabbi Eckstein at the First Day of Christian and Jewish Solidarity with Israel.
1985 6,000 Ethiopian Jews are airlifted to Israel in Operation Moses, prompting The Fellowship to help fund resettlement programs for new Ethiopian immigrants.
1986 Seminar tour to Israel kicks off major effort to increase tourism to Israel and help the Israeli economy by marketing Israeli products.
1987 Rabbi Eckstein makes regular TV and radio appearances to discuss Israel, Jews, Judaism, and Jewish-Christian relations.
1988 “Ask the Rabbi,” The Fellowship's nationally syndicated radio program, begins airing predominantly on Christian stations.
1989 Rabbi Eckstein addresses 2,500 Christians at nationwide Feast of Tabernacles event in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1990 The Fellowship launches the On Wings of Eagles program to bring Soviet Jews to Israel following the collapse of the USSR.
1991 The Holyland Fellowship becomes the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
1992 The first group of Russian Jews is airlifted to Israel through The Fellowship's On Wings of Eagles program.
1993 Through the Operation Exodus program, The Fellowship presents an additional $100,000 to bring Ethiopian Jews home to Israel.
1994 The 1,000th Russian Jew from The Fellowship's On Wings of Eagles program arrives in Israel.
1995 The Fellowship opens The Center for Jewish and Christian Values in Washington, D.C.
1996 Operation Alert is launched to fight religious persecution around the world.
1997 The Fellowship creates the Isaiah 58 program to provide food, clothing, medical help, and lifesaving aid for orphans and elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.
1998 $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.
2000 The Fellowship's Jerusalem office opens, and the Guardians of Israel program is launched to help families suffering from poverty and terrorism in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.
2001 As the second uprising among Palestinian Arabs in protest of the continued Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank begins in Israel, the devastation wrought by suicide bombers motivates The Fellowship to establish the Israeli Victims of Terror Fund.
2002 The Fellowship initiates Stand for Israel 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 to pray for Israel.
2003 Rabbi Eckstein founds the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada, a sister organization to The Fellowship.
2004 The Fellowship launches Operation Safe Bus to safeguard public buses that transport as many as 1.7 million Israelis each day.
2005 The Fellowship sponsors its first tour for Israel for Fellowship supporters.
2006 The Fellowship, through the 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, while the 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.
2007 The Fellowship's Guardians of Israel program donates $10 million to help refurbish bomb shelters in northern Israel and the community of Sderot bordering Gaza.
2008 The Fellowship's Guardians of Israel program renovates 32 public bomb shelters in Sderot, which for years has suffered daily rocket attacks.
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.
2011 The Fellowship is voted one of the "Top 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For" by The Non-Profit Times.[19]
2011 The Fellowship launches 4Zion.

See also

References

  1. ^ IFCJ: Who We Are
  2. ^ "The Jewneric Leadership Series: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein", The Jewneric Leadership Series (Jewneric), http://www.jewneric.com/2008/09/24/the-jewneric-leadership-series-rabbi-yechiel-eckstein, retrieved July 10, 2012 
  3. ^ International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada
  4. ^ La Fraternidad Internacional de Cristianos y Judíos
  5. ^ International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Australia
  6. ^ Rabbi Honored for Special Contribution to Israel, YNet News, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3890911,00.html, retrieved July 10, 2012 
  7. ^ "The Fifty Most Influential Rabbis in America Newsweek". Newsweek. June 28, 2010. http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/28/the-50-most-influential-rabbis-in-america.html. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ On Wings of Eagles
  9. ^ Guardians of Israel
  10. ^ Isaiah 58
  11. ^ Stand for Israel
  12. ^ 4Zion
  13. ^ "Charity Review, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews", BBB Wise Giving Alliance (Better Business Bureau), http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/religious/international-fellowship-of-christians-and-jews-in-chicago-il-1962, retrieved July 10, 2012 
  14. ^ a b c d http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/134027
  15. ^ a b c http://www.news1.co.il/Archive/003-D-42673-00.html?tag=01-36-40
  16. ^ a b Rabbi Elyashiv: Refuse Money from IFCJ
  17. ^ "Chabad Rabbinical Court: No Fellowship Funding", The Chabad Rabbincal Court, http://www.chabad.info/index.php?url=article_he&id=46524, retrieved July 12, 2012 
  18. ^ The Ultimate Kibitzer, Christianity Today, Feb. 2009, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/27.32.html, retrieved July 12, 2012 
  19. ^ The NonProfit Times' 50 Best Nonprofits To Work For 2011, The Non-Profit Times, May 5, 2011, http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/article/detail/the-nonprofit-times-50-best-nonprofits-to-work-for-2011-3858/l, retrieved July 12, 2012 

External links