“Yechiel was like the sun that shines one the world, and he shone on all Jews everywhere,” said Rabbi Berel Lazar.
BY JEREMY SHARON | The Jerusalem Post
Hundreds of people attended the funeral on Thursday at the Eretz HaChaim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), after he passed away suddenly on Wednesday night at age 67.
Several dignitaries were in attendance – including US Ambassador David Friedman, MKs and former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, along with Rabbi Berel Lazar, head of Chabad in Russia and one of the country’s chief rabbis.
Eckstein founded the IFCJ in 1983 and raised more than $1.6 billion, according to the organization – mostly from Evangelical Christians – to help hundreds of thousands of low-income Israelis, ailing and poor Holocaust survivors in Israel and the former Soviet Union, and low-income Israeli minorities, including Arabs, Bedouin and Druze.
Lazar gave the first eulogy at the funeral service, speaking of how Eckstein dedicated his life to helping other Jews through the organization he established.
“Yechiel was like the sun that shines on the world, and he shone on all Jews everywhere,” said Lazar.
“He knew his task was to save people. He never cared what others would think and he always went further than others thought possible.”
Eckstein’s brother Beryl also gave a eulogy, describing his closeness to his older brother, his admiration of him and his devotion to helping other Jews and building bridges between the Christian and Jewish worlds.
“Yechiel was a dreamer and a visionary, and all such people are controversial,” said Beryl Eckstein.
“Your lifetime of service to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel is now complete,” he continued, saying that this service had now merited him with the accompanying angels that bring tranquility. “May God bless you with peace,” he concluded.
Eckstein’s daughter Yael spoke emotionally about her father’s devotion to his family, as well as his work.
“Your life was dedicated to other people’s happiness… you dedicated your life to hessed [acts of kindness] and you will be praised for doing so,” she said.