Chafets's eye remains sharp, his voice clear and his b-s detector is finely tuned. In “The Bridge Builder: The Life and Continuing Legacy of Yechiel Eckstein,” Chafets turns his attention to a little-known rabbi, educated in the U.S., who has dedicated his life to performing mitzvot (good deeds) while weaving a fabric of collaboration between evangelical Christians and the State of Israel. What could be more pure and simple than harvesting financial contributions from Christians eager to donate to needy Jews out of a religious of love Israel and its people? As Chafets explains, Eckstein has overcome hostility from Orthodox Jews suspicious of Christian motives; mainstream Jewish social agencies were jealous; some Christians, upset that Eckstein blocked their mission to proselytize among the Jews, dropped him. His marriage fell apart. His health suffered. He was kicked out of the yeshiva where he studied. But he persevered, winning over opponents and skeptics, raising enormous sums to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless and rescue Jews from places like the Ukraine and remote parts of Africa so they could make a new home in Israel.
This was a anazing book, he not only talks about the hard ships he went through he talks about thelping the ones who need it the most. In an incredible tale of hardships, trails, and rejections we witness the amazing determination of one man. Rabbi Eckstein is a man of strength in the face of defeat, a warrior in a cultural battle. He wades through the misinformation and rallies back victorious as he lends a helping hand to the Jewish people in need. For his entire career he has helped the Christians understand the life of the Jewish people, and then provided the Christians with the means to administer help, by way of financial support.
When the Anti-Defamation League sent a young Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to Chicago to foster interfaith relations in the late 1970’s, he was surprised to see how responsive Christian evangelicals were to the cause of supporting and defending Israel.
Eckstein founded The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in 1983 to promote cross-cultural understanding and build broad support for Israel, Soviet Jewry, and other shared concerns. The Fellowship has grown and thrived over the last three decades, raising more than $1.1 billion, and is one of the largest 50 NGOs in America today. American Christians have become one of Israel’s most reliable sources of financial and moral support.
The next factor that makes this book such a great read is… it's well written. Just — extremely well written. Zev Chafets is a master at bringing together elements of a story, and even when those elements might not be the most appealing on their own, he weves a tale that keeps you following through.