Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christian funding comes of age

JPost reports:

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, got the thanks he's been looking for from the organized Jewish world on Monday at a reception at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly.

Eckstein, who started the fellowship 25 years ago, has raised some $500 million from Evangelical Christians to give to impoverished Jews, Jewish groups and Zionist causes.

The relationship has often been one of contention, as the Jewish community has long been wary of receiving Christian money,especially for Zionist purposes.

But Eckstein has become a strategic partner of both of the federation system's overseas arms, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The fellowship has long been a donor to the JDC, giving the organization $9m. last year and $7m. this year, according to the JDC's executive vice president, Steve Schwager. Eckstein sits on the major boards of the JDC.

Most recently Eckstein pledged $45m. to the Jewish Agency in exchange for a seat on the agency's highest governing committee.

In May, that deal almost fell apart because Eckstein felt that the agency was not honoring him as a full partner; in particular, hewas upset that the fellowship was not listed on JAFI's letterhead along with its primary funding organizations, the UJC and Keren Hayesod,which raises money from Europe and Canada for the agency.

But Monday, Eckstein said he finally felt "vindicated" and officially accepted by the organized Jewish community.[...]

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