Prior to founding The Fellowship, Rabbi Eckstein was national co-director of interreligious affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. In that role, he broke new ground by forging partnerships with evangelical Christians. Recognizing the potential of these strong interfaith relationships, in 1983 he established The Fellowship to help Christians and Jews begin a dialogue and work together on projects promoting the security and well-being of Jews in Israel and around the world.
Rabbi Eckstein advocated for religious freedom worldwide. He traveled to China to work for the freedom of imprisoned Christian pastors and to press the cause of religious liberty. In 1995, he brought the first Torah scroll to Uzbekistan since the Communist regime banned religious practice there.
Rabbi Eckstein was the catalyst behind the first Evangelical-Jewish Leadership Conference, as well as its coordinator, and served as speaker at the National Day of Prayer. He opened sessions of the U.S. Senate with prayer, conducted a Passover seder for U.S. senators, and delivered the benediction with President Bill Clinton at the dedication ceremony for the memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, D.C. the first rabbi in history to deliver the benediction at the dedication of a presidential memorial.
May 2010, Israel's Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog presented Rabbi Eckstein with the state of Israel's first-ever Award for Special Contribution to the Welfare of the People of Israel. In July 2010, Rabbi Eckstein was honored by Hadassah with its first Man of Distinction award, and in 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Raoul Wallenberg Award by the JDC.
Eckstein also received the Economic Forum’s prestigious Jerusalem Prize, the Community Service Leadership Award from Yeshiva College, and more than 20 other awards from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Chamah, Colel Chabad, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel’s Union of Local Authorities, and other organizations.
He wrote columns and was featured in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, U.S. News and World Report, The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and People magazine.
Rabbi Eckstein passed away at his home in Jerusalem on February 6, 2019. He is survived by his wife Joelle, his three daughters, and his eight grandchildren.
Served on the executive committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
An internationally recognized Bible teacher, Rabbi Eckstein served on the faculties of Columbia University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Seminary.
Received Orthodox Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University in New York, and master's degrees from Yeshiva University and Columbia University.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews fights poverty in Israel, aids impoverished elderly Jews and orphans in the former Soviet Union, helps Jews resettle in Israel, and brings Jews and Christians into a relationship marked by dialogue, respect, and cooperation.
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