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Yanky Fachler

Bridges Built Through Visit of Jewish Historian, Yanky Fachler

by (Rev) Donald James, April 21, 2014

“Too few Jews are aware of the part that Christians have played in bringing the Jews home; likewise, very few Christians are aware of this history either.”   This was the message of historian, author and broadcaster, Yanky Fachler, brought to Winnipeg recently by several Jewish and Christian partners, including Bridges for Peace and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. 

UK-born and raised, now living in Ireland after 25 years in Israel, Fachler bumped into Christian Zionist history when exploring his father’s determination to join the Jewish Brigade after World War II.  He discovered that the founder of both the Jewish Brigade and the Zion Mule Corps during World War I was a Christian, John Henry Patterson.  Studying Patterson’s life led him to other Christian Zionist military leaders and the publication of 2 Lions, 6 Officers and 750 Mules.  He later learned that David Ben Gurion had wanted, Orde Wingate, a Christian Zionist, to become his first IDF Chief of Staff at the founding of Israel.  Wingate, however, was killed in World War II, in a plane crash over Burma.

Fachler’s Winnipeg visit was two years in the making, following an encounter in Israel with John Howson, Bridges for Peace Director Emeritus.  Hearing Fachler recount a crucial Winnipeg connection to the founding of Israel, Howson was determined to bring the historian here, in particular to Zion Apostolic Church.  It was from this north-end church, in 1936, that Rev. William Hull had felt led to go to Israel to establish a bookstore and a church. 

In 1947, as one of the very few Canadians in Palestine, Hull was sought out by Justice Ivan Rand, the Canadian representative on the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP).  Over a single dinner with Hull, Rand became convinced of the necessity of a Jewish homeland.  Rand then gave leadership to a confused UN Committee and they agreed to make the partition proposal to the UN General Assembly.  The result was the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. Fachler told this story in detail to the current congregation of Zion Apostolic Church as well as to Bridges for Peace audiences.  In his book, God’s Little Errand Boys, currently being re-printed after selling out in Winnipeg during Fachler’s visit, he also includes the moving story of American pastor John Grauel, the sole Gentile on the ship, Exodus, which inspired the 1958 Leon Uris novel.

A full-house at the Shaarey Zedek Seniors’ Luncheon learned from Fachler about Jewish life in Ireland, both past and present.  Ireland’s Jewish population is tiny, having shrunk from 4,000 to between 1,500 and 750 in recent years.  But there have been numerous Jewish notables, including Lord Mayors, poets and novelists.  Ireland’s current posture towards Israel is of great concern to Fachler, and he has founded the Council for Mid- East Peace, Ireland to better inform Ireland’s public debate, including in its schools.

Fachler’s final appearance in Winnipeg was a book launch at McNally Robinson on Monday, April 7thGentile Heroines and Heroes continues the theme of Christians who aided the Zionist cause.  It includes George Eliot and the impact of her “ultimate Zionist novel”, Daniel Deronda, as well as numerous other Christians who have played important, and generally little-known, roles in Zionist history.

Fachler expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to assist in building bridges in Winnipeg between Jews and Christians, and a willingness to return to Canada for similar events in other cities.  He can be contacted through his web-site,


  • (Rev) Donald James BA,MDiv is National Development Director of Bridges for Peace Canada
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