Some have asked questions – and we try to answer them all fully
Is the primary function of this hostel to provide a place for Jews to teach other Jews about the Prophets?
The hostel will be mostly for Aliyah programs: the highly successful Masa and Birthright taglit programs Jewish Agency and Birthright. Also ‘Onward’ which is a more intensive follow up of Birthright and LAPID which is for Jews inside Israel. These are now partly Israeli Government sponsored via a large grant to the Jewish Agency for Israel and partly private sponsored, and they will increase to 50,000 Jews per year… as it is a short season they need a lot of accommodation as close to Jerusalem is possible.
The kids come from disadvantaged communities, most who could never afford to come to Israel, many come from South America. Due to problems in the USA and after ‘Sandy’ which demolished part of a Jewish area, Jews in Israel are having to help out Jews in America for the first time.
The area of Gush Etzion has a sizable South American population, and at 4% per yer population increase, it is the growth area. It has an industrial area and wineries which are driving the growth, as well as the highway to Jerusalem where many work. Jerusalem is beyond the average persons budget to have a house, so the close areas in Gush Etzion Judea and Samaria are the place the new Olim might live.
See also a short news article:
In this area for Jews from Israel combine walking trips with open Tanakh (the Prophets as well as Torah), this area is the centre of Tanakh teaching (as opposed to Mishna etc.). The reason why the walking trips are powerful with an open Bible that this area is loaded with Jewish Biblical history as it’s on the path of the Patriarchs.
Why is it proposed?
There were two reasons among many which direct the work. The first is that recent events show that God is now working in the area of the mountains of Israel (a.k.a ‘West Bank’) and in Judea specifically, as he promised through his prophets. Therefore we would wish to be part of that. The second is that we affirm Israel are God’s witnesses, and strengthen our connection to the witness of God’s Word. It is hoped that as the project is for Jewish youth that our youth may encouraged to take a great interest in prophecy.
What will be achieved?
There is the beginning of work being done at Massuot Yitzchak to teach Jews about their heritage, and to take them to the path of the Patriarchs to learn of the Promises to the Fathers of Israel. Nearby are other schools at both Bet Ayin and Kfar Etzion, all teaching about the Land. Also within walking distance at Kfar Etzion is a museum, which is being upgraded. From the Gush Etzion Foundation, “At Massuot Yitzchak today we have one large room for lectures that can take place inside or outside.There is a small kitchen and restrooms. Our plans are to build not have caravans or mobile units but actual stone buildings. This would be the where your donation would come in. There would be two units for male and female, showers, restrooms etc. This would connect with the existing study/dinning hall. Today 7 families live in Massuot some run the program that exists today. But unfortunately the sleeping issues for a group need to have a solution and today they have to go outside Massuot to Kfar Etzion or in sleeping bags on the existing premises.
Massuot Yitzchak is named after the First Head Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog. Massuot is located in the Judean Hills in the forest, above the main road to the Elah Valley.
Your donation will complete this crucial part that is so needed, so more groups will come.” The groups will include those from both diaspora and Israel itself, for the many aliyah programs.
Whose idea was it?
The idea of teaching Jews their heritage in Israel has become a powerful means of encouraging aliyah. Due to an increase in these type of programs sponsored both by private individuals and the Israeli Government, much more accommodation is required in historically significant places. A Christadelphian architect from Australia became involved with a Jewish centre design in Zayit, Efrat while pondering Bro. John Thomas’ and other’s understanding relating to this area (see here). After talking to those co-ordinating the Zayit Jewish Centre the architect asked the question, what if Christadelphians could help Jews, when Jews are clearly seeking help in their heartland? Many types of buildings were thought of, including donating to a museum, a park etc. but the idea of a hostel for aliyah, offered the most useful benefit for the least input and was most in keeping with Christadelphian history of support for Israel. In addition the architect had experience both staying in such buildings and designing them.
Who could design and build it?
Architects find it hard to work in other areas, as regions and every city/town has different codes. The ecclesia in Israel was contacted and found to have an engineer, but they do not work in every area. Because Tekoa was on the architect’s mind (due to Bro. John Thomas’ words and their family’s research) an internet search gave a contact for a Torah scribe. He was asked who could design and build such a building. He immediately wrote back and in addition gave a wonderful recommendation for Christadelphians to Shani Abrams-simkovitz of the Gush Etzion Foundation, a non-profit charity organization who co-ordinate donations to projects for the community. see Gush Etzion Foundation. We were given a second recommendation to the Gush Etzion Foundation by the contact at the Zayit Jewish Centre. The Gush Etzion Foundation has access to the capability to carry out the construction, seehere.
Who will run it?
After a few discussions with the Gush Etzion Foundation they found a location adjacent the developing educational facilities at the former Kibbutz Masu’ot Yitzhak, Isaac’s Beacons (founded in 1945) in Gush Etzion, mid-way between Jerusalem and Hebron. This location had a benefit as the people there run the school already have the administrative capacity. There are already contacts with aliyah organisations set up.
Is the intention to fund the hostel only or to then keep it going through donations and/or staff?
Due to its location at a kibbutz there is no staff needed more than what they have. Youth hostels typically run on minimal staff as people make their own beds, all that is needed is some cleaning. We would make a gift of a building and the people at Masu’ot Yitzhak, Gush Etzion School charge the Aliyah programs nominal sums that pay for any running costs including cleaning. This is normal and what donations to aliyah cover.
It is envisioned we would donate one-off to fund the building only. It is not expected that we would be involved in maintenance of any sort. For major repairs they might need help, if our Lord delays more than 10 years. If we wish to keep an ongoing association we may offer assistance. But it would not be much, after 10-15 years typically for any building it is less than 10% of the original even with a major repair such a replacing the roof and recladding.
Will you be looking for Christadelphians to go to Israel as part of the project?
If Christadelphians are in the area they are so welcome to see the site and visit the Gush Etzion Foundation! None are needed as everything can be done via internet – not like the days of the 60’s when we would have to go! But they’d love to see us. One of the committee wished for an official formal hand over, it could even be media worthy, and it would be wonderful to do such a thing. Perhaps we could send someone who might never get the chance to go to Israel from among our number. If God willing there is support we could contact all those in disadvantaged areas and have a list of names and select them by lot.
Why don’t we need to buy land?
It’s possible that some Christadelphians helped buy the land, as much of the area not bought previously in 1925 was bought by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the 1940’s from donations. It was then given to the Israeli government. The land the building will sit on has been granted by the Israeli government for such a use as is being proposed (4000 Dunams). As a result building approvals are through the Israeli Government.
Would it be viewed favourably?
The current Mayor of the Gush Etzion region set up the Gush Etzion Foundation, and has been consulted and supports it. In addition there are indicators of positive government political opinion.
PM Netanyahu speaking at the annual Bible quiz was quoted,
“the Quiz is an opportunity for them to deepen their knowledge with the Bible and to use it as a guide in order to get to know the Land of Israel better.”
“Besides participating in the Quiz, Bible Quiz finalists contestants are taken on hikes through the Land of Israel, in places that have significance in the Bible.” Israel National News
This is what is intended at the Kfar Etzion Field School. A government policy for supporting school children visiting and hiking to Biblically significant sites was announced early in 2011. It government is strongly supportive of the idea of school children visiting. Many of the government want Hebron on the list see the Hebron website.
MP Uzi Landau is quoted at Hebron,
“My impression is that the true infrastructures of Israel are not water or energy, but rather the city of Hevron,” Landau said during the visit. “It has been this way from the days of our forefathers and it is true today. It is regrettable that the school system does not educate our young generation to this simple truth.” Landau called for “a change of heart” and to strengthen Hevron by conducting tours, educating about the city, and also by building there. “With the change of heart, the rest will follow,” he said. Israel National News
From Masu’ot Yitzhak, 2 miles north of the Kfar Etzion Field School they can lead hikes to the trail of the Patriarchs and to Hebron.
How’s it going to happen?
It is proposed at this stage that like many of the projects with groups that the Gush Etzion Foundation facilitate that it would be organised through the Land of Promise Foundation (Link) an arm of the American JNF (Link)
How much needs to be raised?
First part is the planning at 200,000NIS = $53,200AUD as it is for the whole plan for a building worth ~$240,000AUD or 250,00US)
This means even if we only raise $50,000 and it is vastly undersubcribed it will be still be incredibly useful to Israel.
Stage One planning, building and infrastructure finished is 600,000NIS which is $159,300 AUD, $165,000USD. This gives shower facilities for a camp of tents and also 10 sleeping places.
Stage Two planning, Building and infrastructure finished is 910,000NIS which $240,000AUD, $250,000USD giving 40-50 sleeping places and facilities.
Can Christadelphians raise such a sum?
If a handful of ecclesias are involved it would require huge personal inputs which is not possible. In the world it is not unheard of for very wealthy people to give a museum or a hospital, but we are not so. With 200 ecclesias from the affluent part, clearly it is possible. If half of Christadelpians world wide are involved it becomes a small matter. We ask first to see if this is possible. If only 10,000 of us gave $20 each even stage two is is achieved.
Will it get off the ground, and what will happen to funds if this is the case?
As little as $53,000 is required for the project to get off the ground. Funds are not collected until we have the support of enough Ecclesias to fund Stage One 600,000NIS. This is why first we have asked if ecclesias will support it. Stage 2 is a bonus if by chance we have a lot of support.
What has to happen next?
Before a firm target can be set and fund raising begin final plans that suit the client would have to be made.
At this stage if we have support from over 200 ecclesias then fundraising would begin. As soon as the target for planning is met final plans would be sought.
Would donations be tax deductible?
In America donations to this Christadelphian project would be tax deductible as they may be made directly either to the registered Gush Etzion Foundation in the USA or the Land of promise Foundation (American JNF). At this stage donations in other places in the world would not be. Assuredly we will be pursuing avenues, and if any Christadelphian has capacity to collect donation in this way we would value this. Please note that if there is ecclesia-wide support the donations may so small from each that it may not matter.
What is our legal liability?
The liability and insurance falls on the builder and not the donor. We will be doing this project with the Gush Etzion Development Company that not only gave the lowest price but has a a building record for building hundreds of units all over. Each project is bound to a contract which consists of all the points that you mentioned and a guarantee of supervision for a period of time once the project is complete.
This is a question relating to how we regard God’s law and the obedience required by Christ to the laws of the land. In the same way religious Jews would act to a standard above that required. Legal liability in all nations affected by the British legal system (including Israel) is only incurred if there is a lack of reasonable care, proximity to events and forseeability. The committee is covered Professional Indemnity Insurance. The Gush Etzion Foundation will have in place all insurances required by the Israeli government.
Israel has an active organization for workplace health and safety. They also require registration of construction firms and insurance of construction workers. You cannot work even as a volunteer foreigner in Israel on a construction site unless you are insured. A search showed that it is slightly safer to build in Israel in terms of on site accidents per 1,000 people involved in the construction industry than in America or Australia. See Report on Liability.
How Reputable are the Jewish Organisations involved?
The Gush Etzion Foundation is a tax deductible registered charity in both Israel and the USA and has been for many years. To be tax deductible it has to be recognised by the government as worthwhile. They work in partnership with the Jewish National Fund (JNF)and this project will be done with the Land of Promise Foundation arm of JNF in America which is overseen and accounted by a board. This is the most exemplary arrangement we can have. The Gush Etzion Foundation has built many projects with Christian donations, a few of which have involved sums over $100,000 US and we have independently confirmed this in phone calls to both C.U.F.I and John Hagee Ministries in the USA that they have been very happy with the results of their donations and will be continuing their connection to the Gush Etzion Foundation.
Is it possible it could be taken by Arabs?
The answer is another question- knowing prophecy, and knowing Israel, and knowing the real practicalities of life in Jerusalem – can Jerusalem be lost now, before Christ? (remembering that it has to be won again for Gog to come against it). The site is 8 minutes drive from Jerusalem in a fully Jewish area which is a key defence of Jerusalem and known for its valour. It is an area that would be defended to the last person standing, now with a population of over 60,000 and growing rapidly. See here. The removal of a mere 8,600 residents from Gush Katif (in Gaza) shows why, in reality, it would not be attempted again.
Why might we believe the security wall will come down?
For years Christadelphians preached publicly that Europe would unite. There was line called the “iron curtain”. It no longer exists. At present there is an absurd situation where many thousands of Jews are on one side of the “security barrier” and about five million on the other. The security barrier was begun with the ‘Oslo accords’ in 1994- and now has many strange loops, see map
Once it would make no sense that Gog comments on the absence of security walls, surely it was normal in the modern world? Only since 1994 does it make sense that Gog comments on it… if there was a wall and it is taken down…
It was only in 2011 that a settlement was begun on the mountains of Israel (Judea & Samaria) without security in place, see Israel National News
What should we call the mountains of Israel?
Once all of the area we would historically associate with Israel was called generally by the western world “the Holy Land”. The Holy Land included Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. Many might call the whole “the Promised Land”. The word ‘Palestine’ was used significantly by the Roman power and referred to the same approximate area. Curiously Palestine is used in the KJV once in Joel 3:4. The area the unenlightened world, in their rage since 1967, calls the “west bank”, Jews by preference call Judea and Samaria, reflecting historical usage.
Why is it important?
bro. Michael Ashton wrote it is important “to keep Zion in the forefront of our minds.”
What difference might it make?
We don’t know. The most important part may be that we have a chance to work together, that it be a crucial encouragement, and lastly that our youth connect to reality of the basis of our hope, the gospel taught to Abraham, the meaning of the sacrifice of Isaac and the core of the future kingdom of God on earth.
Who really builds any house or dwelling?
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it. (Psa 127:1)