A book about the work of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein – Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) – was recently released. The book, entitled “The Bridge Builder – The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein,” was written by author and New York Times reporter Zev Chafets, and details the life and times of a man who has dedicated himself to the “contemporary Jewish scene….creating strategic alliances for the Jewish people.”
Throughout his career, Eckstein has fought for recognition and respect in building relationships between Jews and Christians. As founder of the IFCJ he has, in the last three decades, become known as an advocate between the two religious communities, literally, as Chafets’ book says, a “bridge builder.”
There are many communities of divergent religious beliefs trying to build bridges along similar lines as Eckstein. For example, Pastor Bob Roberts of Northwood Church, said, “We’re trying to watch one another’s backs … How we treat Muslims here (in the United States) has an impact on Christians in Pakistan and Egypt and other places around the world. We need to learn how to be civil. We need to teach those who are in the majority how to treat those who are in the minority. We want to pull together pastors and imams in different areas. We need to watch out for religious minorities worldwide.” Roman Catholic Priest Channan is on the same page as Roberts and Eckstein, saying, “We want to heal wounds and build bridges.”
Perhaps this was why Channan received the Global Ambassador of Peace Award from the Institute of International Social Development at the United Nations, and Eckstein the Man of the Year Award and Award for Special Contribution to the Welfare of the State of Israel.
At the end of the day, what people like Eckstein, Roberts, and Channan are all just trying to do is “build bridges” between different communities.