Yael Eckstein
Yael EcksteinCourtesy

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (also referred to as IFCJ or The Fellowship) is founded on the words of Genesis 12:3, when God told Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Established in 1983, IFCJ has provided financial assistance to Israel and Jews for over 40 years, and the work of the nonprofit organization is more critical than ever.

The organization has been leading efforts to build bridges between Christians and Jews while providing humanitarian care and lifesaving aid for Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised over $3.5 billion in funding to support people worldwide.

Yael Eckstein is president and CEO of The Fellowship, leading all ministry programs for the organization, the largest Christian-supported humanitarian organization helping Israel and the Jewish people. Yael has the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of the world's largest religious, charitable organizations; she is the 2023 recipient of the Jerusalem Post's Humanitarian Award.

Eckstein is a married mother of four children and became president and CEO of IFCJ after the 2019 death of her beloved father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Since then, she has forged ahead and risen as a devoted leader of an organization raising millions of dollars each year to help the Jewish people.

Eckstein, who started in the mailroom at The Fellowship, does not just sit behind a corporate desk; rather, she is on the frontlines with her people, impacting those in great need and finding inspirational and innovative ways to pour aid into communities in need. She also serves as a global spokeswoman for The Fellowship and has been featured in some of the most prominent media outlets worldwide.

Just recently, IFCJ distributed armored vehicles in Northern Israel and recently finished a historic project at Schneider's Children's Medical Center of Israel to move pediatric dialysis patients into a completely bomb-sheltered department.

On October 7, 2023, when Israel was attacked and rockets bombarded central Israel, children connected to dialysis weren't able to run to the shelter. The staff covered the windows with sandbags, and they all prayed for the best. Thankfully, The Fellowship had just finished its project and sprung into action.

"Within hours, the sheltered department was opened, and every day since then, the children get to safely get their treatments without worrying about terror rocket attacks," Eckstein shared. "It's a crazy thing that in Israel, we need our hospitals to be sheltered. And I'm so grateful that Christians and Jews around the world, through The Fellowship, are able to provide that."

At the end of March 2024, The Fellowship announced a $1.5 million-plus initiative to place 123 shelters – right in alignment with Genesis 12:3 – alongside bus stops serving 42 northern Israeli communities amid Israel's ongoing conflict with Hezbollah terrorists.

The Fellowship is also shedding light on the issue of salary disparity and poverty in Israel, highlighting its efforts to extend a helping hand to those facing critical challenges.

With an annual fundraising range of more than $200 million in recent years, thanks to the support of people across the globe, The Fellowship reinvests funds into local communities, directly impacting the lives of families in desperate need.

Poverty Persists Amidst Wage Disparity in Israel

Recent data reveals that approximately two million people in Israel endure the harsh realities of poverty, with over a million among them being innocent children. This sobering statistic underscores the urgent need for concerted action to address the systemic challenges contributing to economic hardship.

Responding to the calls of the impoverished, The Fellowship is urgently calling for support to address the needs of various vulnerable groups, including children, Holocaust survivors, homeless individuals, and families. The nonprofit uses funding to provide essential support such as food, clothing, shelter, heating, furniture, medicine, and home visits.

A distressing number of impoverished elderly Jews, both in Israel and the former Soviet Union, are enduring severe deprivation, struggling to meet fundamental needs such as food, medicine, shelter, and heating during the harsh winter months. In light of this dire circumstance, IFCJ stands resolutely committed to being among the foremost Israeli charities dedicated to supporting these vulnerable populations.

Compounding this issue is the strain felt in the Holy Land, where Israel's resources are increasingly diverted towards border security, leaving scant resources to aid its most disadvantaged citizens, particularly impoverished elderly Jews.

Consequently, many find themselves lacking life's essentials and are now turning to allies of Israel for vital assistance.

The Fellowship’s Urgent Call For Action

The Fellowship extensively supports Israel's most vulnerable residents through various aid programs. This includes monthly food assistance, shelters for battered women, and other essential aid initiatives, leaving no need unaddressed.

Nutritional support is provided through monthly deliveries of prepared meals, food cards, and food packages for the elderly. Over 40 soup kitchens serve hot meals to thousands, while needy families receive food cards during Passover and Rosh Hashanah.

Elderly and infirm individuals receive medication, home visits, and emergency funds, with Holocaust survivors equipped with emergency call buttons for immediate medical assistance. The Fellowship also provides vehicles for municipal transport and heating vouchers during winter.

Families in need receive monetary and emotional support, including shelter funding, enrichment activities, and essential services. Appliances, clothing, and food are distributed as required, with children receiving clothing and school supplies. Regular funding is provided to children's homes.

IFCJ's Impact: From Sheltered Medical Centers to Emergency Aid During Crisis

The Fellowship continues to assess the needs daily during the current war. In total, The Fellowship has allocated and distributed more than $19 million in emergency aid to communities and residents in regions of Israel most heavily affected by the devastating terror attacks.

Poverty in Israel: Navigating Economic Hardship

According to the 2021 State of Israel poverty report by the National Insurance Institute (NII), over a quarter of households (26%) in Israel struggled to cover monthly expenses last year. Shockingly, 10.6% of households had to forgo medical treatment, while 6.9% couldn't afford prescription drugs.

This placed Israel at the second-highest poverty rate among developed countries, following Costa Rica.

Factors exacerbating the situation include a shortage of social workers, with about 1,500 positions unfilled due to low salaries. Moreover, over 20% of Israeli adults provide long-term care for family members, impacting their ability to maintain outside employment.

Despite these efforts, Israel continues to grapple with poverty and income inequality. Organizations like The Fellowship play a crucial role in providing lifesaving aid to vulnerable groups, including families, the elderly, and Holocaust survivors. Donations to such organizations complement slow-paced policy reforms and address ongoing challenges in Israel's socio-economic landscape.

The Fellowship's Commitment: Supporting Israel's Most Vulnerable During Times of Adversity

From October 7 through December 31, 2023, The Fellowship provided $19 million in emergency aid and assistance to hundreds of thousands of Israelis affected by the war. Beyond the aid and impact listed above, additional aid and security measures provided by The Fellowship over the past decades continue to protect and care for Israelis throughout the country.

"One thing I'm certain about – and have always been certain about – is that the Jewish state and the Jewish people have true friends in Christians around the world," said Eckstein. "I have seen this more strongly than ever before in the days since October 7."

Eckstein said The Fellowship will continue throughout 2024 to support the evacuees and displaced victims of the war with basic needs and other essentials.

"The Fellowship has been on the ground for more than 40 years, helping provide for the people of Israel and the Jewish people. We were on the ground distributing aid on October 7 as terrorists were still roaming our streets, and we have been doing so every day since," Eckstein said. "In many ways, our work is really just beginning, but we will continue doing everything we can to help people begin to rebuild their lives."

The organization is leaning on the words of Psalm 91:15 as a prophetic promise – “When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.”