The IFCJ or The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is a philanthropic organization founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The organization might have done a lot of good in Israel, but I have always thought there was something a little off about it.
[singlepic id=254 w=320 h=240 float=right]First, it seems that one of the main goals of the organization is to promote an heroic public image of its founder. He is not only mentioned in every ad they do – he is the main focus of most of them. On his website you can ‘help honor Rabbi Eckstein [and] share a personal message with [him] that will be placed in a special book of memories being presented to him […]’
In this air of a personality cult they might as well have used a capital H when spelling ‘him’.
Second, it seems that when it comes to soliciting donations, the end justify the means with this organization. A year ago Israel’s Channel 10 news did a segment showing the organization’s US commercials in which Rabbi Eckstein paints Israel as a Third World country whose streets are packed with poor people, bombs go off everywhere, and tourists never visit. Now, I understand that you cannot ask for money if you state that all is well, but it seems the IFCJ is incapable of seeing the big picture, and in trying to make Israel better they seem to perpetuate old stereotypes, trying to manipulate people’s emotions in order to raise more funds.
[singlepic id=96 w=425 h=400 float=right]In yesterday’s Maariv newspaper, the organization published an ad in which Rabbi Eckstein personally feeds a child some green beans, in what appears to be a very large soup kitchen. I found this ad particularly disturbing, as the child in front and the others in the back are most likely real people and not models, who most likely did not consent to being plastered all over the newspaper. But what really made me mad is the subtext of Rabbi Eckstein as a contemporary messiah feeding the poor. No more donating in secret – the modern day savior has an NPO, hires a PR company, an ad agency, and does not wait for people to hang his picture on the wall – he prints them copies of it.