News of Note

both stories from the Jerusalem Post (click the titles for the complete article):

Holier than thou?

Donations from evangelicals are critical to welfare funding, but rabbis are divided on whether it is kosher to accept money from messianic Christians.

Jewish American songs for Shabbat, the High Holy Days and Jerusalem play in the background as one waits for the phone to be picked up at the Jerusalem headquarters of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). The warm and soft voice is that of organization founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

“We worked to change what we called the four As: awareness, acknowledgment, appreciation and attitude. Today, the vast majority of evangelical Americans know and appreciate what we do and are willing to take part in it.”

But American liberal Jews were not the only ones who have had reservations about Eckstein and his fellow evangelicals. In Israel, evangelical donations have met opposition from both sides of the spectrum, although apparently such opposition has not always been expressed by a refusal of such funds.

“DURING THE days of Avraham Burg, former chairman of the Jewish Agency, the money was accepted, but not publicly,” says Eckstein.

The IFCJ is a member of the Jewish Agency board. However, recently its board member status was questioned by other members, who argue that the IFCJ hasn’t donated enough to hold a seat on the executive board.

“We will never stop funding and supporting the Jewish Agency,” says Eckstein. “Until now, we have given our annual share – up to $8m. We might raise the sum to $15m. if the Jewish Agency approves the new program we submitted and for which we await its decision, but the basic donation of $8m. is assured in any case.”

Trailblazing through history

If you ask Yehezkel Dror, he’ll tell you that the future of the Jewish people is an uncertain one. The Jews are treading a path through history filled with dangers and challenges, and the key to getting through it all safely, he says, is to sit down and do some serious thinking.