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Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein 1952-2019

February 14th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings No Comment yet

On February 6, 2019, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews passed away suddenly from a heart attack.  Rabbi Daniel Lapin was asked to write a eulogy for The Jewish Press, which describes itself as, “America’s Largest Independent Jewish Weekly.” Here are some excerpts from that eulogy.

It is neither pleasant nor easy to say goodbye to an old friend. My world became a lot lonelier last Wednesday afternoon when Yechiel Eckstein departed this world for his heavenly reward. Reflecting on the loss is most of what I have been doing since then.

…Do you know how cyclists achieve speed records? They ride behind a high-speed truck fitted with a huge wind deflector. Using the full power of its thundering engine, the truck speeds just ahead of the bicycle. Shielded from the wind and fury, the rider pedals away in a tranquil wind shadow.

Yechiel was my wind shield. We Jews, like other people, often succumb to the seduction of driving with our eyes glued to the rear-view mirror. We diligently dodge the dangers of yesterday while blithely ignoring the threats of tomorrow. It’s true that Christian theology spilled much Jewish blood over many centuries. But today Jewish blood is being spilled by murderous Muslims encouraged by a radical secularism that is hostile to people of faith and the State of Israel. Today, Christians are the victims, not the oppressors. Yechiel saw all this over 30 years ago.

Unaware that Yechiel had preceded me by eight years, I formed an alliance of Jews and Christians in 1991. Contradicting centuries of conventional wisdom that insisted Christians were our implacable foes, my work was not without controversy. However, as painful as the assaults I endured from my fellow Jews were, they were as sprinklings of confetti compared to what was inflicted upon Yechiel…

He absorbed much of the fire and fury aimed by those who were determined to see Christians as the enemy. By the time I came along and insisted that the problem we Jews faced was not Christians but, in fact, a secularism that was seducing our youth and emboldening radical Islam, I was able to operate in a relative wind shadow. Yechiel was my wind shield…

He conducted himself with love and concern toward all he came into contact with. Jew and Christian, employee, associate, donor, or beneficiary – all felt that Yechiel was genuinely interested in them and really cared about them…

Yechiel was a courageous man. The default condition for human beings is cowardice, not courage. That’s why Moses, Joshua and Solomon were adjured to be courageous. It doesn’t come naturally. Friendship towards evangelical Christians was not a popular posture in the Jewish community prior to 9/11. Despite possessing the intellect as well as the cultural adroitness to speak out of both sides of his mouth, he never did. Eckstein never ducked the issues. He was exactly who he was with no apologies and was always willing to engage in discussion or debate.

He was devoted to truth and suffered real pain at the skullduggery practiced by many he considered friends. I don’t think he ever understood how people were able to turn their backs on years of friendship for the sake of political expediency. He was a courageous man so he never could understand cowards.

History has long proved Yechiel Eckstein correct. That Jews and the State of Israel have mortal enemies is without doubt. That for the most part, Christians are philo-Semitic and stand with Israel is equally certain. It is indisputable that the warmth felt towards Jews and Israel by millions of gentle Christians – for the first time in two millennia – owes much to Yechiel Eckstein.

Jews Do Believe in Heaven

February 6th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 8 comments

Twitter is often the platform of ignorant blathering and best ignored. But when the tweet is by someone who is White House Correspondent for The New York Times and it concerns Judaism, we think it worthwhile to publicly refute it.

We understand that not everyone loved President Trump’s State of the Union speech as much as we did. Yet Annie Karni objected to the president’s words when he quoted a Holocaust survivor saying, “They came down from heaven,” about the American troops who liberated him from the Dachau concentration camp.

 

(Anni Karni: Trump just ad-libbed “they came down from heaven” when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau. Jews don’t believe in Heaven.)

Note to Ms. Karni. Judaism does teach of Heaven—rather extensively. Those Jews who are faithful descendants of our ancestors believe in an afterlife, Heaven, and judgement after death. We acknowledge that many Jews, tragically, often know little of the traditional, vibrant and enduring faith that is their heritage. So, we think you made an honest mistake, but as an intelligent woman we encourage you to expand your education. There’s a wonderful world of Judaism waiting for your exploration. Perhaps you will join us for a Shabbat dinner and we can talk further.

God Bless America

January 31st, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

My husband and I have the privilege of speaking for the United States Army Chaplain Corps over these few days. What an incredible honor and humbling experience to meet these soldiers and their spouses. We pray that our words provides insight, strength and support to them and are grateful for the reminder that our peaceful lives are possible because others shoulder the burden of protecting our country.

 

MAGA Hat Day: an anti-bullying initiative

January 24th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 11 comments

Around Chanuka time, one sometimes hears a story of a house that has in its window a menorah celebrating the Jewish holiday, being defaced. Whether this was done by teenage hooligans, motivated by anti-Semitism, or the act of a disturbed Jew, a number of Christian neighbors’ immediate response is to buy a menorah and place it in their windows. It is a sign that they stand against hatred.

In honor of that, I have an idea. Teenage boys from Covington School were bullied for being white, male, Catholic, pro-life and Trump fans. The bullies were, in many cases, powerful people who at other times deride bullying. They include pundits, media personalities, actors and others. Some of them have apologized for their actions; others have doubled down and are still wallowing in their venom.

Let’s declare a date, perhaps February 7th, thus giving everyone time to prepare, as “Wear a MAGA Hat Day.” The ladies on The View, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Times journalists, Al Sharpton and others who despise Donald Trump can make a true statement that disagreeing politically with an adult is one thing, but demeaning, threatening and bashing children is something entirely different. Who knows? Maybe the far Left might even reach the point of declaring that demeaning, threatening and physically attacking adults with whom they disagree is worth denouncing.

Gillette’s Male-bashing Commercial and Donald Trump

January 17th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 1 comment

Here is a quick thought on the new male-bashing, virtue-signalling Gillette ad.  I think it is wrong to ask whether this is a good business move for them or not. I think it is a good move. Their company name has been in the news non-stop for the past few days.

What would make it a bad move for them? If conservatives didn’t individually decide to boycott  their products, as I’m sure many will, but if a number of conservative organizations and all conservative media voices picked one member of Gillette’s Board of Directors, or one person high-up in the company and dug up dirt on him or her. Perhaps exaggeration and lies might even be involved. (Needless to say, I’m not recommending this, but I think it is a worthwhile train of thought to follow.) The message that, “If you start up with us or don’t agree with our thinking, you will be punished,” would come across loud and clear and make other companies hesitate before jumping on the politically correct bandwagon. This is pretty much what happens when companies offend liberals.

I don’t expect that to happen and I admit to being happy that it won’t. I’m not into mud-wrestling. But for anyone still wondering why so many of us greeted Donald Trump’s election with glee, this should help you understand. I am delighted that after Nancy Pelosi tried to bully him the president with warnings about delaying the State of the Union address because of the government shutdown, President Trump didn’t grovel and he didn’t insist on taking the high road. Instead he explained that her desired trip abroad would, unfortunately, have to be canceled because of the shutdown. YES!!!

Welcome to the White House

January 7th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

Please watch this amazing video posted on our American Alliance of Jews and Christians facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/AmericanAllianceJewsChristians/

Did You See This?

December 18th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

We take all negative news about President Trump with a shovelful of salt. Not only is much of it spawned by malice, but any outlet that ignores anything positive yet highlights anything negative (and did exactly the opposite with a previous president) doesn’t deserve recognition.

Here is a link to a party that the President and Melania Trump hosted at the White House for Holocaust survivors. Like us, you are probably not surprised that it went largely unnoticed. (Thanks, Julie Ann, for sharing it with us.) https://www.facebook.com/will.kniesche/posts/2255655761379720

 

AAJC Happenings – Update from Rabbi Daniel Lapin

November 25th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings No Comment yet

Dear Friend—

In hoping to enlist your support for our work here at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, I could list our activities, events, appearances, and publications—and I shall do so.  But first you deserve a picture of the umbrella beneath which everything we do flourishes.

Let me try this metaphor: Imagine plucking a beautiful rose from your garden and placing it in a vase on your dining room table. Your first impression is that you made a pretty smart move.  No longer do you need to go outside, cross your lawn and stoop down at the rose bush to enjoy the flower’s beauty and its fragrance.  It is right there on your table.  However, by the next day or two, you begin to have doubts. Your severed flower has begun to droop, and its colors are fading while its sisters, still on the plant outside, are flourishing in their loveliness.

Initially, when our culture detached the frighteningly fragile flower of society from its roots, the eternal Biblical values of the Judeo-Christian tradition, it looked like a pretty smart move.

It looks a lot less smart now.  It is now apparent to us all that what distinguished life in America from life in most other places, was widespread acceptance of the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of civilization. Until the early 1960s, people were mannerly, kind, and compassionate because of our Biblical heritage. People were basically law abiding, family-minded, and hard-working for the same reason. Can you believe that the phrase “…under God…” was easily inserted into our Pledge of Allegiance as late as 1954? Can you imagine this happening today?

Yes, there is a canyon cutting through our culture. But no, contrary to the propaganda messages that attempt to indoctrinate us, the canyon does not separate rich from poor, or men from women, or people with black skins from people with white skins, or Christians from Jews. These are false and secular divisions. They are artificial.

The canyon does seem to separate those who view Judeo-Christian, Bible-based values as vital for civilization’s survival from those who view those values as primitive obstructions to what they see as progress.

Working together, you and I are making a difference in protecting that vital set of foundational values, and I appreciate your partnering with the American Alliance of Jews and Christians to do so.

We continue to change the hearts that will change the culture by consistently publishing three weekly resources, Thought Tools, Susan’s Musings, and Ask the Rabbi. We put out a weekly audio program carried on The Blaze, iTunes, YouTube and other platforms, and we put out a daily television show, Ancient Jewish wisdom with Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin produced by the TCT Television Network.  The AAJC has sponsored my appearances before more than a thousand pastors and Christian leaders during 2018 as I strengthened their hearts and encouraged their passions. My regular synagogue speeches carry the same goal.

This work and more, will continue in 2019 as we see enthusiasm for our efforts grow. With your help this can be done. I am not going to suggest how much you should or can give. This is an intensely personal decision; however, I will tell you that for our programmed activities in 2019, we have planned a program requiring a budget of $600,000. Our leadership is discussing expanding our work beyond the borders of the United States of America. In an increasingly connected globe, bad ideas spread quickly; but good ideas and true beliefs can be spread just as effectively. To that end, I have been privileged to carry the banner of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians to the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Switzerland. In all three countries I was amazed to see such receptivity to timeless truth.

God brought about the Exodus to give the Israelites freedom to follow Him. He warned Pharaoh, “Let my people go so that they may worship me in the desert.” (Exodus 7:16) By following God’s rules, people would interact in a way that would create a safe and secure community. Tyrants understand that once God is out of the picture, they can reverse that equation, seducing citizens into trading freedom for the promise of safety and security, which will never be delivered.

Much more cultural energy is being pumped into the anti-Christian propaganda campaign than was ever delivered to the anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving campaigns of years gone by. Fervent zealots of secularism are flinging themselves into this anti-Christian war with fanaticism.

If they succeed, Christianity will be driven underground in America, as it has been elsewhere, and her benign influence on the character of America will be lost. In its place we shall see a sinister secularism that menaces Bible believers of all faiths. Once the voice of the Bible has been silenced, the war on Western Civilization will be strengthened and we could see a long night of barbarism descend.

Without a vibrant and vital Christianity, America is doomed, and without America, civilization is doomed.

Which is why I, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, am so terrified of American Christianity caving in.  I believe that we Jews and Christians must stand together replacing our timidity with confidence and our diffidence with daring and determination.  Almost every day, we see the battle lines being drawn. Defense will be far harder down the road if we ignore the danger signals now.

We feel that it is important to have prominent Jewish and Christian voices on the right side in the struggle for America’s future and your gift helps us recruit and train those voices.  We pray that your heart leads you to support our work at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians and are grateful to you for joining our mission.

Whatever support you can give to our work will be very much appreciated. American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization (EIN 26-07642520). We have several different ways now that you can make your tax-deductible donation:

With my deepest gratitude,

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, President
American Alliance of Jews & Christians

Who Speaks for the Jews?

October 31st, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 5 comments

The simple answer is, “No one.” It has been many years since there was one spokesman like Moses. Even King David had a counterpart in the prophet Nathan. So, while I am aware that columnists do not get to pick the titles of their pieces in newspapers, the heading of William Galston’s piece in the Wall Street Journal of Oct. 31, irked me.

The headline proclaimed, “Jews Are Proud to Stand with Refugees,” and Mr. Galston extols HIAS – the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – founded in 1881. HIAS indeed has done admirable work in its more than a century of existence. What Mr. Galston failed to point out is that HIAS used to be a case of the Jewish community, not the government, supporting Jewish refugees. If it urged the government to allow more refugees to enter, it encouraged legal channels. I am not familiar with HIAS today, but most likely they, like so many once worthy Jewish organization, have instead become mediums for far Left politics.

I don’t draw any commonality between the honorable work HIAS has done in the past and its new focus. Obviously, being upset with HIAS, as murderer Robert Bowers was, doesn’t entitle one to enter a synagogue and start shooting. HIAS and any Jews who support it, have a voice in our open society. So do the many Jews who see the flouting of American law and the invasion by hordes of people illegally crossing the border as a threat to both the United States and safe Jewish survival here.

Neither group speaks for the non-existent “the Jews”. Only our enemies see as as one indivisible group, united as they are in wanting our death whether we are Democrats or Republicans, political conservatives or political liberals, religious or secular.  I assume that Mr. Galston is embarrassed by the title given to his piece. He speaks only for himself and those who agree with him, not for an entire people.

“Hate-Speech” and Twitter – Rabbi Lapin’s Response

October 19th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings No Comment yet

Rabbi Daniel Lapin was asked to respond for a news article to Louis Farrakhan’s most recent anti-Semitic remark on Twitter, and on Twitter’s hypocrisy in addressing “hate-speech”. Here is his submitted quote:

“Jews, along with all Americans, are best served by constitutional fealty and it is the First Amendment to the Constitution that happily makes America one of the few nations not to criminalize what is called “hate-speech.” The reason I say “happily” is because we Jews would rapidly become hate-speech legislation’s first victims, as teaching certain Biblical chapters is made illegal. In America, Louis Farrakhan may freely utter his opinions about Jews, and being a private sector company, Twitter may freely choose to publish those opinions. But Twitter betrays its moral mendacity by providing Farrakhan with a megaphone while banning many voices like the Christian blogger, Elizabeth Johnston, for opposing the sexualization of young children by Teen Vogue magazine. Americans would be better served by a Twitter that practiced no censorship at all. And Twitter would be better off too.” ~ Rabbi Daniel Lapin, American Alliance of Jews and Christians

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