Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eckstein challenges halachic ruling and threatens exposure

Posted by Jewish Israel

Hareidi halachic authority Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv recently issued a ruling forbidding the acceptance of Christian funding from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ/Keren HaYedidut).

Yechiel Eckstein, the Director of IFCJ, responded by threatening to expose hareidi organizations which take funding from his organization in order “to make sure everything is perfectly transparent.” Read the full report at Jewish Israel to understand the implications.

“Rabbi” Eckstein may be determined to embarrass and corner the Torah observant world, but Jewish Israel can attest to the fact that more and more Torah true authorities are expressing utter alarm at the degree of Christian influence in Israel, and they are beginning to take a firm stand and calling for consensus and accountability. Jewish Israel continues to hold weekly meetings with rabbinic leaders in Israel and we are regularly updating our halachic section as opinions and rulings are made available...more at Jewish Israel

UPDATE: Arutz 7 has picked up on Jewish Israel's post and "counter offer" read:
Evangelical Funding Heats Up: Rival Groups to Reveal Names


Shiloh said...

Not only should they not accept monies from the xtian world, they should kick them out of Israel as the Torah dictates.

Keli Ata said...

It's great to see that IFCJ is being exposed. Of course transparency is welcome in fact needed but what Eckstein is doing amounts to blackmail if you ask me.

And since he is an Orthodox rabbi shouldn't his attempts at blackmail be brought before the Beit Din where he's located?

I understand what Rabbi Eckstein is saying about not letting Jewish organizations accept IFCJ monies under the table while publicly condemning and forbidding it. I do.

But it still sounds like he is blackmailing Jews.

As an aside: I hope neither of the two Israeli charities I give to accept anything from xtians.

ellen said...

The whole thing stinks, because...

a) a well publicized Jewish-Christian theological and historical reconciliation is part of IFCJ's agenda - which causes enormous halachic obstacles (impossible fences to breach) for Torah observant Jews - for any Jew!

b) Those Hareidi and Orthodox organizations which are unfortunately accepting funds cannot put be in a position where they have to publicly acknowledge that they are relying on Christian organizations for the reasons that Rav Elyashiv outlined (avodah zarah, missionary activity and chilul Hashem). Obviously they are not proud of the fact that they have to rely on missionary funds which are problematic at best. I'm sure Eckstein is fully aware of this.

c) At the same time, there is a major philanthropic crisis and a good number of Jewish organizations are now relying on evangelical/missionary organizations to help them. For the Jewish community, this is grave - if not forbidden, and the halachic minds of the generation need to be consulted. There must be an immediate call for accountability and guidelines.

Eckstein, as a rabbi, should show a little of that overflowing "compassion" of his to understand the terrible halachic dilemma the Torah observant Jewish community is in.

At the same time, any organization which is critical of the evangelical communities assistance should not be taking funds under the table. That is clearly unethical and hypocritical and a desecration of G-d's name. But mistakes are being made -especially with the large umbrella organizations and - as a Jew - Eckstein should not be exploiting the situation.

The Jewish community both in Israel and the Diaspora must remain independent and get back to themselves. Time to streamline, come clean, and get to work.

Shira said...

I don't see why it's exploitation or blackmail. Eckstein says don't take advantage of my organization in private yet slander it in public. If you do that, I will protect my organization by asking you to defend yourself publicly as well.

I was under the impression that these types of organizations offered money to Jews without strings attached, in the hopes that we'll prosper and bring Messianic times. (Yes of course their vision of Messianic times is not ours.) In which case it might not be universally forbidden to accept such funding, like going up to Har HaBayit, wearing sheitls etc. But honestly I don't know the facts, or for that matter what my own Rabbi said, because personally we didn't apply for the xtian grant when we made aliyah.

I find it ironic that two comments above me are against IFCJ but one praises it for helping achieve transparency, and another suggests that Eckstein should continue to help these organizations under the table out of compassion.

Keli Ata said...

Shirah, yes I am against the IFCJ for myriad reasons. While I find transparency a noble enough thing, what Rabbi Eckstein (or more likely the xtians in the IFCJ) are being vindictive against the organizations that have become dependant upon their help.

It all has an air of extortion to it. It would be one thing to list charities that they help but in this context? It smells rotten.

I would have hoped the weeping rabbi Eckstein would have had compassion and not gone out of his way to humiliate Jews publicly.

It's a tangled mess but I guess that's what comes from accepting xtian "charity."

My understanding is that only Jews and Noachides can donate to Jewish/Israeli charities, not xtians. They're only permitted to donate to gentile charities.

Further, I understand also that Jews aren't even permitted to accept gifts from xtians three days before an xtain holiday. Don't recall the exact reason, though.

Anonymous said...

Commenter Shiloh (1st post), assuming you're the Shiloh who regularly posts here, why don't you tell the other folks here how you believe in Jesus in any which way, rather than putting on the facade of a Torah observant Jew, which your prior comments on this blog and others have shown you not to be.

mother in israel said...

He's not blackmailing anybody, if anything he is protecting them by not identifying them immediately. This information shouldn't be secret.

rw said...

Isn't Nefesh b'nefesh largely/ partially funded by Xtians who want to bring all Jews to Israel for their own reasons?

ellen said...


Any organization that identifies itself as evangelical is jesus-centered, missionary by nature, and hopes and prays and launches projects and actions to facilitate in an eschatological(end-days)plan which they believe culminates in the second-coming of jesus - a time (according to them) where there will no longer be a line between Jew and Gentile as everybody will recognize jesus as lord and savior.

As evangelicals see it, the Jews are very much part of "the plan". This is an integral part of their blessings, prayers, donations and political lobbying done on behalf of the Jewish state. And obviously they love their bible and have taken a moral, heartfelt stand with Israel. So the problem is not a christian one. But it is very much a Jewish halachic one.As the very premise of the christian faith erodes the very foundations of Judaism. And Hashem cannot tolerate it when the Jews turn towards avodah zarah (we lose the land - G-d forbid). This is why Rav Soloveitchik shunned the concept of theologically based interfaith endeavors and any references to
Judeo-Christian tradition of heritage. He wanted to avoid a state of shmad (spiritual destruction)

As far as the Jews are concerned, that theologically inspired evangelical agenda comes with costs and inevitably causes a crossing of halachic lines. This is why anybody who cares about perpetuating and ensuring the Jewish nature of the state of Israel should consult with top halachic authorities before embarking on any Israel-evangelical partnership.

We Jews treated this whole relationship too casually. Recommend you read the post
"Israel’s Evangelical Embrace and the 11 Cardinal Sins"

With regards to Nefesh b' Nefesh
Unfortunately, when Daniel Ayalon was co-Chairperson of the organization, he was heavily involved in Judeo-Christian endeavors and it seems lines were crossed...

goyisherebbe said...

I don't agree with what Rabbi Eckstein is doing with IFCJ in general, but his behavior regarding under-the-table acceptance of Christian funds by religious Jewish organizations is reasonable within his context.
Second, to call him "rabbi" with inverted commas is to say that he is not a real rabbi. Not true. He really has smicha and it hasn't been revoked. You can't call every rabbi you disagree with a fake. He knows more Torah and halacha than you do.
There is also a distortion of what Rav Soloveitchik z"l said. He opposed interfaith dialogue but not interfaith cooperation. Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l opposed both.
Finally, Keli says she hopes neither of the two Israeli charities she gives to accept funds from Christians. Don't just hope, investigate. If they are receiving such funds, then write them a letter complaining. Then if nothing changes, decide if it is worth removing your support to some other worthy cause which does not receive such funds. Trembling Israelites who "hope" nothing bad is happening will never change what is going on. They'll keep lying to you and go on taking your money. Verify.

Keli Ata said...

But how do I verify when the agencies are in Israel and I am in the US? I will check to see if they disclose their sources of funding to make sure they don't accept xtian funds. Good advice goyishe.

Regarding Rabbi Eckstein--he is indeed an Orthodox rabbi. Financial disclosures are important to all charities. They should be accountable to their contributors as to where they receive their funding.

But it's odd that Rabbi Eckstein only mentioned naming the charities that are receiving IFCJ funds since the Israeli rabbis made their ruling.

Sorry but it does sound like a threat boarding on if not outright blackmail. Again, financial disclosure is admirable but it's coming across as vindictive in this case; a threat.

Why can't all rabbis concerned deal bring this before a beit din and resolve it according to halacha? After all, all the rabbis are Orthodox rabbis. This can't be correct manner to resolve the problem.

ellen said...


There is no distortion of Rav Soleveitchik's words here. He was clearly opposed to interfaith endeavors which crossed theological lines. The RCA released a psak against theological dialogue back in 1964 in keeping with the Rav's position due to overtures being made by the Catholic church.

Read the Rav's "Confrontation", as it is one of the most beautifully expressed rabbinic positions I've ever read.

He suggests cooperating on every level, but to "recoil", "retreat",
"retrace our steps", "terminate" and "disengage" if that relationship even comes close to crossing spiritual and theological lines or breaching Torah fences.

He uses the example of the confrontation - almost reconciliation - between Yaacov and Esau as a stunning example.

In short he says,
"Yes, we are determined to participate in every civic, scientific, and political enterprise. We feel obligated to enrich society with our creative talents and to be constructive and useful citizens. Yet, pertaining to the first two questions - whose art thou and whither goest thou - Jacob commanded his representatives to reply in the negative, clearly and precisely, boldly and courageously. He commanded them to tell Esau that their soul, their personality, their metaphysical destiny, their spiritual future and sacred commitments, belong exclusively to God and His servant Jacob."

I don't question the fact that Eckstein received smicha. I used "Rabbi" as a critical reminder and and as a question as to whether or not he is still operating as a rabbi within the realm of normative Judaism. It's no secret that a number of rabbis from across the Orthodox religious spectrum have suggested threatening him with "cherem".

No doubt that he is an excellent administrator, PR man, and fundraiser extraordinaire who cares deeply for people.

JewishIsrael will be releasing a video very soon which will demonstrate what difficult halachic straits we are in and the lines that IFCJ has crossed.

No one is saying across-the-board not to accept funding from gentile sources or to reject support from those who take a moral stand with Israel. But there must be a better way that doesn't risk compromising our Jewish principles.

ellen said...

Jewish Israel has just posted two video clips which demonstrate the crossing of halachic lines and the promoting of the missionary web that a number of rabbis are concerned about with regards to IFCJ.

Note that Jack Hayford who Eckstein embraces at church is a known missionary and promoter of the "messianic" movement in Israel.
And Pat Boone who is a big promoter of IFCJ brags about baptizing a Jew and other such stuff on the Jonathan Bernis show and Bernis was just involved in the Kadima MK Shlomo Molla Affair

Keli Ata said...

Thank you very much for the links, Ellen:) I'm heading to Jewish Israel right now to watch.

BTW: I've seen John Hagee on many of the IFCJ infomercials. Also, quite recently actually, IFCJ has a new infomercial but it strays from appeals to help Jews make aliyah or assiting the poor in Russia.

In this new program, Rabbi Eckstein sings and even engages in a Q&A/Shuirim with xtians. The whole thing is quite similar to any of a number of messianic programs.

I fear Rabbi Eckstein could be inadvertently luring unsuspecting Jews to trust "Jewish" programs on Xtian TV.

I can't say that I know of any Orthodox rabbi that has a television show and preaching on xtian television. Odd.

Also odd that I've never seen the IFCJ infomercials on secular television, only xtian networks. So funding the IFCJ receives from xtian and Jewish sources is going right into the pockets of these xtian networks.

Keli Ata said...

Totally OT but as I write this, I am watching the Rejoice program on TCT xtian network. Rabbi Daniel and Mrs. Susan Lapin are being interviewed and talking about the American Christian/Jewish Alliance or something.

The host is droning on about how xtians and Jews share the same Hebraic heritage. And Rabbi Lapin is producing programs for TCT!

He's also selling his CD about the tower of babel for $50. The host says the money will be used to help TCT "spread the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Heard that with my very own ears.

Keli Ata said...

Note: I also just heard Rabbi Lapin describe Avraham as "the father of many great nations, Judaism and Christianity."

And the book/CD he is selling on TC is called Tower of Power.

What in the world is going on with rabbis on xtian television? Messianic cons are one thing. But legit rabbis?

Hope I'm not commenting too much, Batya.

ellen said...

"Also odd that I've never seen the IFCJ infomercials on secular television, only xtian networks. So funding the IFCJ receives from xtian and Jewish sources is going right into the pockets of these xtian networks."

Huh! It's so obvious and I never thought of that angle. It's true.
These paid commercials quite literally support missionary programming.

Did Daniel and Mrs. Lapin hear the host say that the money will be used to help TCT "spread the gospel of Jesus Christ."?

If you can, record that one for posterity.

Keli Ata said...

Indeed it is odd, Ellen. Not once have I seen these infomercials on secular TV. And I can bet the xtian networks don't donate air time so money from IFCJ is being used in a round about way to further the xtian great commission.

IFCJ should be asked about why the shows are only on xtian TV and how much money they spend on the infomercials.

Regarding R. Lapin--he didn't actually say it, the xtian host did. Still, since TCT is offering Lapin's book for a donation to the network for $50 either Lapin is donating the copies of the book for TCT to make money or he's cutting a cut in the deal.

Yes, both Rabbi Lapin and his wife were sitting right next to the host when the host said the donation for the book would spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'll try to tape a clip of the show and post it online.

Or you could watch the whole thing by going to the TCT website and watching the Rejoice episode for today--October 27, 2009. Let me see if I can find a link for you.

ellen said...

thanks Keli Ata,

I got the link and saw it with my own eyes.

the screen is split between the Lapins and a promotional for the some book on jesus. Too weird

Anonymous said...

Creepy, isn't it? Jewish Israel should keep tabs on TCT. It's an up and coming network and has about 170 stations around the world.

The missionaries that broadcast on TCT are extremely shady and not to be trusted.

I think Lapin is just out to sell his books but...creepy having real rabbis sharing air time with missionaries.

Keliata from a remote computer posting anonymously.