For Immediate Release
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) will bestow its prestigious Raoul Wallenberg Award – one of the humanitarian group's highest accolades – on Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (ICFJ) at a festive ceremony held in Israel on May 20th on occasion of its 100th anniversary. JDC is honoring Eckstein for his profound contribution to the Jewish people as founder and president of ICFJ, an interfaith group that has brought Christian and Jewish communities around the world together and raised over $1 billion for Jews in need in the former Soviet Union and Israel.
"Rabbi Eckstein is a worthy and exceptional recipient of the Wallenberg Award," said JDC President Penny Blumenstein.
"Rabbi Eckstein and IFCJ have done so much to help so many of the World's most vulnerable Jews and we are proud of all that we have done together to reach so many in need," said JDC CEO Alan Gill.
Eckstein – who will receive the distinction in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein – will be the fourth recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Award, joining the ranks of Donn Weinberg, Edgar Bronfman, and Elie Wiesel.
The prestigious prize is named after Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who used his diplomatic status to save the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II. Thanks to JDC funding, Wallenberg issued and distributed thousands of Swedish protective passports to the Jews of Budapest, set up a network of shelters under the auspices of the Swedish crown as safe havens for Jews and pressured senior Nazi and Hungarian officials to stop transporting Jews to Auschwitz – even confronting SS soldiers and physically intervening to stop their expulsion. At the end of an exhaustive campaign to save Hungarian Jews he was captured by Soviet troops and held in captivity. His fate is unknown. For his endeavors, Wallenberg was named a Righteous Gentile.
Since he founded the IFCJ in 1983, Eckstein has built bridges of understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and bolstered support for Israel and the Jewish world. Through his tireless awareness-raising activities, Eckstein helps over one million people around the world each year. Eckstein has raised over $250 million with JDC and other organizations to help tens of thousands of children, senior citizens and Jewish families in Europe and the former Soviet Union, providing them with food, medicine, schooling and other basic needs. Eckstein's motivation has been the stern belief that human beings deserve to live in dignity and he has pursued this goal with vigor and passion.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.
For more information, please visit www.JDC.org.