updated 01/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
Yechiel Eckstein, 28, is a fourth-generation rabbi with a very contemporary mission. As associate director of the Chicago office of B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League, he is the force behind both a Holocaust Research Center (now being considered at the local Roosevelt University) and a new course, "Man's Inhumanity to Man," for the city's public school system. A national troubleshooter for the ADL, Eckstein became convinced of the need for such study by the planned American Nazi march on Skokie and Arthur Butts' book The Holocaust Is a Hoax. The first of the family line not born in Jerusalem, Yechiel grew up in Ottawa (where his father was chief rabbi). Yechiel was ordained at New York's Yeshiva University and then spent two years studying on a kibbutz in Israel. He entertained troops on guitar at the Syrian front and in hospitals during the 1973 war. Eckstein has since played on U.S. and Canadian TV and likes to fill in as a cantor at a storefront synagogue near his residence in Rogers Park, Ill. He is married to Bonnie Siegman, daughter of another leading U.S. rabbi, and they have a daughter, Tamar, 3. Eckstein ruffles some of his Orthodox colleagues by fighting the historic misogyny in their faith and by his insisting that the "Inhumanity" course stress the plight of the Boat People and Russian dissidents as well as the Holocaust. He has also disturbed a few Jews by his campaign for interfaith dialogue. Retorts Rabbi Eckstein: "We shouldn't feel we can grasp God as if we have Him in the palm of our hand."