Rabbi denies funding evangelical proselytizers

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Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein denied a news story suggesting that some money raised by his interfaith group was used to missionize Jews.

The Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv reported Sept. 15 that Eckstein’s organization, the Chicago-based International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, gave $10,000 in 2007 to an evangelical group in Jerusalem that proselytizes Israeli Jews.

Ma’ariv also reported that the fellowship sent money to a Protestant group in Massachusetts that the paper called “a controversial Christian cult.”

Eckstein, the fellowship’s founder and president who has raised tens of millions of dollars for Israel from American evangelicals, insisted the story misrepresented the facts. He said the report was simply a continuation of a smear campaign against him.

The rabbi said that the fellowship used the Jeru-salem group, King of Kings, to pass $10,000 to a church in Bethlehem to help provide humanitarian aid to local Christians before Christmas.

As for the gift to the Massachusetts group, the Community of Christ in Orleans, Eckstein said it was a $750 donation by the fellowship to the group’s choir after canceling an event there. — jta