Israel: Off the Beaten Path

Many who visit Israel, do so with a tour group and spend most of their time staying in hotels, thus missing prime interaction with people who live in the Land. There are some who take the ‘road less traveled’ and adventure on their own. These souls who wish to drink in the fulness of the Land and experience the richness of Divinely guided interaction, often seek lodging in apartments, bed and breakfasts or even, when opportunity presents, with a family, open to interaction.

I want to share a couple places that generally only get passed along by word of mouth, special places where the fellowship is sweeter and you are treated like family. If you need a ‘base camp’ for a few days in Tiberius, Jerusalem or a nice retreat for a medium sized group in the Judean hills, keep reading.

Tiberius – There are not many places on the shore of the Galilee that have a better view than Avi’s three bedroom home with expansive patio. Perfectly tricky to find and only available through direct contact, we have enjoyed this gem for a weekend with several other couples. Our Shabbat fellowship was wonderful and the late night chats were priceless. The sweet hostess is a wealth of information and a dedicated watchman, called to this particular perch.

Avi, originally from the US, has lived in the Land for about 25 years, if I remember correctly, and been in the Tiberius area for at least 10, hosting travelers from the northern house. She sets a daily scrumptious breakfast, included in the recommended 170 NIS/person/night donation. Fruit, fresh eggs, yoghurt, dates, nuts and lots of fresh delicious coffee and juice.

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“…mindsets are difficult to change…”

On several recent trips to Israel, I have watched with interest the construction of a high speed rail from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The rail, significantly, connects Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem via a non-stop, 28 minute luxury trip for just 11 NIS. Very, very convenient and nice. I can’t wait to ride this ‘magic carpet made of steel‘ at Shavuot.

The Jerusalem Post Magazine has a fantastic article about the rail line as well as a mild chiding of the Israeli media for their incessant negative reporting surrounding the line, inspite of excellent service, wonderful experiences and glowing reports from users. I read the article and it only increased my excitement to ride. You’ll have to check it out yourself…

But, the article had a few lines that jangled my thoughts. The author very nicely recounted aspects of Theodore Herzl’s vision and the fulfillment that even this high speed train is a part of. One quote that really caught my attention follows,

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I never saw that before…

We were seated around the living room, preparing for Shabbat afternoon fellowship. More people than normal were here and light banter was going on as we paused for prayer and entered into our designated time of discussion.

With a couple of us having just returned from Pesach in Israel, we gave a good report from the Land. My recent articles concerning The Skeleton in Independence Park came up and we discussed elements and how we can better get people to the Land at feast time. One gentleman commented on some of the negative feedback the articles had received and pointed us to a passage of Scripture I have never seen before!! Further, he spelled out an answer to one of the most bothersome questions that plague most Hebrew roots/Messianics.

The question is ” I am worried about my family. They won’t listen when I tell them about our need to keep Torah. How do I get them to hear and understand?”

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Still More, Re: The Skeleton in Independence Park

The first installment in this series created a stir and got lots of hits. While some were offended by my tone and/or content, others, both publicly and privately, praised the message. Offense was not my intent. It was/is a hard message. The follow-on article offered a really good solution that hopefully fell/falls on tenderized hearts and softened soil.

Jeroboam’s altar at Tel Dan and the story of our repentance.

As I have continued to ponder and study, I think it imperative to explain the magnitude of WHY. Why is the topic of feasts in Jerusalem so gut wrenching? Why do we tend to be so resistant? And, why must we go up?

I Kings 12 is one of the most important chapters in all of Scripture. Certainly, it is the hinge from which all of history and prophecy swings. Yeshua the Mashiach… very important, but His mission of corporate redemption for the house of Israel and kol Israel is not necessary had 1 Kings 12 never happened. I detailed the significance of the rebellion several years ago in this short but jam packed post, then the details of the two houses and their necessary restoration, according to prophecy in Ten Parts in the King.

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MORE, Re: The Skeleton in Independence Park

This morning, as I was answering emails and eating breakfast, my eldest came downstairs to get ready for work. He said, “Dad, I read your skeleton article and if I didn’t know that you were really trying to make a serious point, I would have thought you were mad.”

I chuckled, “You’re not the only one. Apparently, I struck a nerve. More than a couple people did not appreciate that article.” We continued with a very good discussion and a solution that I’d like to share.

Deu. 16:16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed:

We read these verses every year both as part of our reading through Deuteronomy as well as during our Pesach readings. Some, like one member of our crew in Israel, argue that this only applies in the Land, while others offer that not only is there no caveat in the passage and Deuteronomy 30:1-4 clearly require obedience while still scattered as a prerequisite for being gathered. Zechariah 14:16 and following clearly outline the fact that even the enemies of Elohim will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem annually at Sukkot to insure rain.

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Sukkot 2019 in Jerusalem. 16 days, Just $945!!

You can be in Jerusalem for Sukkot this year and experience the feast in a whole new way while being obedient to the command to ‘go up.’ Price of just $945 USD includes lodging and two meals per day as well as community and fellowship opportunities unavailable anywhere else. Space only available for 70 participants and about 30 are already spoken for.

October 7-22, 2019. Details at Ani Yosef!

Present yourself before the Lord in Jerusalem this Sukkot!

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Committing an act of war….

We were sitting in the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv last night waiting for our flight. Kelly was using the time to catch up on some reading when she read a quote out loud. While the author is not Messianic and is speaking of Christian communion, her mention of ‘feast’ immediately set my wheels turning. Here’s the quote in sidebar…

Wow, interesting to think that feasting at the table, in Jerusalem, in obedience to the command and counter to the many challenges that seek to prevent us, is an act of war. Spiritual war!

I guess I knew that any act of obedience or stand for truth is an act of war against the adversary, but this was a great reminder, particularly in the midst of my musings about how very important it is for us to be appearing in Jerusalem for the feasts. It is not just our physical presence that Jerusalem needs to see. It is our spiritual presence that offends the forces of darkness. We are taking a warrior’s stand that if it delights the Father, then it enrages the adversary.

Hmmm.. gird up, boys! Jerusalem for the moedim!!


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The Skeleton in Independence Park

She got under my skin and I was getting angry. She didn’t mean to as she leaned across the table with pointed questions.

It was not her very direct interrogation that was more appropriate for cross examining a hostile witness, but the fact that she exposed an unarticulated question that has been boiling in my own frame.

We were in a restaurant in Jerusalem at the end of Unleavened and she asked,’where is _______?’ naming a prominent Torah teacher in the US.

I tried to smile, gave a light shrug and said nothing. I was about 99.9% sure the teacher she named was not at the feast.

‘Maybe he is at an Orthodox community. Do you think so?’

Again I just shrugged.

‘Where is ________?’ She named another.

I pursed my lips in a forced smile, but was feeling my temperature beginning to rise.

‘Maybe they just don’t want to meet with us, or they are too busy to come to the Park?’

I grimaced. Thinking through the last five feasts I’ve attended, I recall only seeing

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Pesach Shabbat

Today, the Ani Yosef team slept in from a late Pesach Seder, then we dug in the Word this morning. Discussion took us many places, beginning in the Torah portion.

Then, this afternoon we drove to Independence Park in Jerusalem to meet other observant non-Jews from around the world. I was able to refresh/renew connections with many friends from all over. James Block showed up

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Busy, busy!

Jerusalem is always special, but this trip with Ani Yosef us more special than most! Besides multiple days of clean up, we planned, prepared for and hosted a wedding… all in a two day timespan. Details and lots of pics across several posts at

Pesach Sameach!

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Wonderful weekend in Tiberius

Some places are special. Some people are special. Occasionally, you get both and this weekend in Tiberius was one of those double wins!

Since last year when we dropped in on Avi to visit for an afternoon, I have wanted to return and rest a few days while drinking in the atmosphere and incredible views from her sunny overlook of the Sea of Galilee. She humbly refers to herself as ‘God’s Inkeeper’ and though she does not have a business or official B&B, somehow, travelers find their way to her door for fellowship, a respite and a few night’s stay in their sojourn about the Land of Israel.

In the final stags of arranging to occupy one of her four bedrooms, we were delighted to find out that two other couples that we know, one from Holland and one from Texas, would be there the same weekend. And, our dear friends from Holland, the Hoogendorns, were bringing another couple making for a very full house and Avi volunteering to occupy the couch so we would all have beds! What a hostess!

Previously, I relayed out adventure getting to Tiberius and settling in, so I won’t recount that, but I did get a picture of the street sign where she lives. It means, ‘one of His people.’ Interestingly, Avi has hosted travelers in Israel for nearly a decade, the first seven of which were on a street named ‘watchman.’

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Welcome (back) to Israel!

The journey always has some sort of hiccup or two, but each time it is so very ‘worth it.’ As I woke this morning, hearing birds chirping outside Avigail’s window, I took a deep breath, stretched and remembered, “I’m in the coolest place on earth!!  Israel!”

Our flight was largely uneventful, making the quickest transit we’ve ever experienced inspite of sitting on the tarmac for an hour before even leaving Charlotte. (I can’t wait for them to begin a direct flight from CLT to TLV…) Where hiccup, and the fun, happened was between the airport and Tiberius.

Our simple plan was to plug an address into the rental car’s dashboard Waze and hit the road.  Because we were in  a hurry, we loaded the car and I started rolling.  Only after we were about 5km from the airport did we realize that my phone was not logging into the network and she had zero service to pull our destination address off of her tablet.  NICE!!

This is our fifth trip to Israel, so I had a pretty good idea where we were headed.  Start off toward Jerusalem, catch Highway 6 North, then take the Tiberius exit.  In town, I knew that if I drove straight through the middle of town and went left just before the water I could get really close I could see a landmark or two that would remind me from our daystop a year ago. Besides, sunset was still hours away…  What could go wrong, right?

Highway six was a parking lot. In my many times on that interstate, I’ve never seen it so congested. It took several hours to make the trip and it was pitch dark dotted by lights on the many hillside communities as we got to the edge of town and still, no idea exactly where we were headed.

I threaded through town looking for anything familiar and we took a foray into side streets for a couple minutes, but quickly realized though close, we weren’t going to find the B&B in the dark. We decided to find a restaurant with wifi, eat and solve our mapping issue before continuing on.

We didn’t stumble into the cheapest place, but the food was amazing and we must have had ‘American’ written all over us because an English speaking waitress pushed to the fore as we came through the door. We enjoyed an amazing kabob dinner with all of the trimmings while easily solving the mapping issue. Indeed we had gotten to within about 400m of the house before finding help. 

Upon arrival at Avigail’s we were surprised to find that Conner and Celesta Stevens, of Texas, had just arrived and would be staying for Shabbat along with today’s expected arrival of dear friends from Holland!! This place doesn’t just feel like home, it is family!

We talked late into the night before retiring.

All  but one have drifted out of bed, coffee is on and the day’s activities, preparing for Shabbat, are being discussed.

Stay tuned.  Lots of pics and video coming as we enjoy the next 19 days.


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Almost wheels up!

Today began with finishing some light office work, final packing and heading to the airport.

Waiting now to board an overnighter to Rome, then a short hop to Tel Aviv before driving to a B&B in Tiberius.

Excitement, relief, planning, and waiting… ready to ‘be there.’ Funny how getting ready and going takes ‘forever’ and the tine in Israel always passes so quickly.

Big shout out of thanks the Char for letting us leave a vehicle there and for driving us to the airport. Very much appreciated.

Here’s a fun post from my Instagram earlier today….

And another pic with the three travelers before we go…

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Packing for Pesach…

Finally…. As with the last few trips to Israel, the anticipation begins building months in advance to the point now that I simply cannot wait to board the plane, have a glass of wine and go to sleep!! A real bennie this time is that our flight is direct from Charlotte to Rome and a scant two hour layover before the final leg to Tel Aviv! Total transit is about 15 hours, the shortest ever!

The disaster before it all gets packed into a couple suitcases….

So, inspite of the excitement, I have begun the dreaded packing. Of special note, the new Ani Yosef T-shirts came in today, thanks to Ken Rank and Hilltop Designs! The design, slightly visible in the pic, has changed a bit since Sukkot with a really cool variation in the works for those who participate in the Sukkot 2019 trip.

We’ll get there a couple days early and plan to stay at a B&B in Tiberius overlooking the Kinneret with an amazing view we experienced last year on a day trip through the area. Avigail is a wonderful hostess and friend that we met at the 2nd Bney Yosef National Congress. Breakfast on her patio and Shabbat in that local will be outstanding! Watch for pics and commentary.

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Reviewing Two Important Books

You don’t have to be around me very long to figure out that I have one single driving passion, one thought and prayer that is always with me, one desire at the core of my being that everything else revolves around. Simply, I desire to see the full and complete restoration of kol (all) Israel as prophesied throughout the Scriptures.

To be clear, there are many varying opinions on who kol Israel is, a topic I will not delve into here. For my perspective on who the twelve tribes are, where they come from and why God has separated them for a time, see my book, Ten Parts In The King; The Prophesied Reconciliation of God’s Two Witnesses.

The restoration of kol Israel is much more than simply having a bunch of yahoos coming together. At the macro, it involves unity in government that is truly Torah based, and at the micro it begins with the building blocks of family and clan that begin to walk out the fullness of what God’s Word says and not the interpretations and additions of men.

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