The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada (IFCJ) is a leading Canadian religious charity building bridges between Christians and Jews, blessing Israel and the Jewish people worldwide with humanitarian care and life-saving aid.
Yael Eckstein has served on the Board of Directors for International Fellowship for Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Canada since 2015. In June 2019, following the unexpected death of her father, Rabbi Eckstein, she succeeded him in his role and became President of IFCJ Canada.
"Until I was in college, I didn't even really know what my father did," said Yael. "It was when I moved to Israel in 2005 that I saw the work of the fellowship on the ground, and I said to my father, I have to be involved with this. He looked at me and said no, you don't. You're going to go to law school, but I insisted."
She started by putting stamps on envelopes and answering phones. She eventually worked her way up, feeling like it was a calling to prove herself administratively while feeling fulfilled doing anything to help this mission that she saw as prophetic and life-saving.
"I feel like it was a gift," said Yael. "I feel lucky and blessed that I came to it on my own and that my father made me prove that this was a passion because I feel like it's my mark."
Since taking on the role of president and CEO of IFCJ in 2019, Yael says there have been many influential moments.
"I was in Kyiv four days before the war broke out. I flew into Kyiv to prepare the people on the ground for what would come," Eckstein explains. "Because of the preparation of the fellowship, we were providing food, medicine and evacuation, from the day the war broke out to today where in Kyiv we had a food box distribution today for over 650 people."
"Everything, every day inspires me and reminds me that this is holy work, life-saving work, but there are some historical situations that remind you what you're here for and how this will go down in history."
One of the most important parts of Yael's work is helping Christians and Jews reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, better understanding, respect, fellowship, and active cooperation on issues of shared concern.
"Let's go back to what it says in the scriptures, what it says in the Bible, in the Torah and see that there are a lot of similarities. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the poor, take care of the elderly, take care of the orphans," said Eckstein. "Let's come together on those core principles of both of our faiths, and what we see is that when we do that, suddenly over 2 million people are being given the gift of life through this partnership."
"When my father started the organization almost 40 years ago, he couldn't imagine what a dark world he would be leaving with so much division. Everyone is focusing on what divides us instead of what unites us," Yael explains. "What the IFCJ does is, focus on the good things that unite us, and from that point, amazing miracles happen."
Today on Connections, Yael shares a bit about the fellowship, how they're helping to build bridges between Christians and Jews, and how they're blessing Israel and the Jewish people around the world with humanitarian care and life-saving aid.