Rosh Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Rabbi Yaakov Shapira Shlita is counted among the voices against accepting funds from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The dati leumi community is divided as to accepting funds from the organization, with some leading poskim approving while others say accepting funds is prohibited.
The matter is more relevant today than in the past as the Ministry of Education is accepting funds from the organization to assist in funding summer camps, camps that many dati leumi families rely upon for their children. As such, families are asking their rabbonim if one may send one’s child to such a camp.
Amid growing criticism and opposition to accepting funding, Rabbi Eckstein recently stated that any organization that does not want their money should not take it.
In a schmooze with talmidim, Rav Shapira explained the matter of accepting funds from this organization becomes an issue from time-to-time. He told talmidim that the organization is run by Christian missionaries, quoting his late father, HaGaon HaRav Avraham Kahana Shapira ZT”L. “My late father and teacher expressed strong opposition to accepting money from the organization. One of the heads of the organization was in our home once, and he was forced to leave in disgrace. My father and mentor zt”l even sent an open letter to rabbonim in northern Israel” the rosh yeshiva explained.
The rav ended his talk by comparing the fund to the sin of the meraglim, stating “To our sorrow, there are always people looking for heterim and explanations for one thing or another. Can one who receives money from them know with absolutely certainty there will be no influence? This was the meraglim, ‘באותו שעה היו כשרים’ and later, as the Maharal explains, when they were messengers of the evil they themselves became evil”.
Recently, Shomron Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, a prominent dati leumi posek, spoke out. He explained that the goal of the fund is to make the State of Israel dependent on Christianity and this is why one must not accept their Money.
In a recent article in the weekly BaSheva Newspaper, the mora d’asra of Yishuv Har Bracha, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Shlita, a noted posek as well, expressed his opinion and he is not opposed to accepting funds from the organization run by Rabbi Eckstein.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)