Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ma'alot Center Opens to Public

Today, December 5, 2010, our new center in Ma'alot opened it's doors to the public at 10AM, Jerusalem time. As we arrived at the center shortly before 10AM, there was already a small crowd gathered in expectation of our opening. Over 20 families were blessed in the short 2 hour period we were open this morning, including a mother of 11 children, with the 12th on the way.
Some local residents also came by just to see what we were all about, and upon hearing that we were giving away clothing, and blankets, many offered to bring items they had and were no longer in need of. It's great to see those in the community supporting one another. One man even brought in two blankets to give away this morning.
Customers were limited to 3 kilos of clothing, one blanket and a new pair of Crocs, which are perfect for the climate in Israel.
It was exciting to see how grateful everyone was for everything they were receiving. We were repeatedly told how thankful everyone was, and how appreciative they were of the high quality of clothing. In the next few days we will also have a food distribution in Ma'alot, where we will be giving out bags of food to 10-20 needy families.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ashdod Center is Moving

It was a long tedious process, but we finally signed the new lease today and we'll be moving to a larger store front, with lower rent, in a better location!

Three months ago, while Jeff, Jeff and Chris (Jacob's Hope team members from the States) were all in Israel, we all went to visit our center in Ashdod. We were serving between 30 and 50 families a month from a small store front in a secluded location. We had thought that once word got out that we were giving clothing to needy people, the location wouldn't be an issue, especially since we were located in a poor area. However, I don't think word got out beyond the immediate surrounding area.

The congregation we are working with in Ashdod is also distributing food, in conjunction with the municipality, at another location. It came to our attention, during our visit, that a store front was available near their food distribution site. When we went to investigate, a neighbor of theirs showed us his store. He told us he was moving out and that his store, which was much larger than the other store we were looking at and would be available for a very reasonable price. We were immediately interested.

Everything seemed to be in place and I returned to Ashdod a month and a half later to sign the lease. I meet the landlord's lawyer, and that's when things started to go wrong. The lawyer did not like that her client was going to rent to a non-profit organization, because if something were to happen to the store, or we were to stop paying rent, there would be very little recourse for our landlord to take. She asked us to get a bank guarantee to assure her client would be paid. A very standard arrangement in Israel.

The next day I left for the States and we agreed to meet again when I got back two weeks later. When I got back, I asked our lawyer to contact their lawyer to work out the details of the bank guarantee and a few days later we were ready to schedule a meeting... then scheduling became an issue... getting a bank guarantee became an issue... my contact, from the congregation in Ashdod, went out of the country for a week... the landlord decided she didn't want to rent to us because I didn't live in Ashdod and it was to hard to schedule to see me... my contact returned... we were able to schedule an appointment for today, but I was still having trouble getting the bank to give me a guarantee.

This morning before our appointment, I was at the bank... our lawyer on the phone with me... I brought papers... the lawyer faxed more papers... the director who lives in the States needed to sign a paper?!? Maybe we could transfer the money to my personal account and I could personally guarantee the money... we made the transfer... they needed my wife to come in and sign... she was at home sick in bed with the flu... we transferred the money back... the lawyer faxed more paper... three hours later, with the bank guarantee in hand, I headed off to Ashdod to sign the agreement! An hour and a half later, and two and a half hours after our originally scheduled meeting, I was in Ashdod signing the papers.

The Ashdod center is moving, finally.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Newest Center in Maalot

Tikvat Yakov is excited to announce plans to open a new compassion center in Maalot, our fourth compassion center in Israel. We are again partnering with Rivers of Living Water in Karmiel to operate this center. Rivers of Living Water has a small sister congregation in Maalot who will also be able to use this space for their weekly meetings.

As you can see by the map, Maalot is located in Northern Israel, by the Lebanon border, and has often been one of the many targets in Northern Israel for rockets fired from Hizbullah in Lebanon. Nearly 700 Katyusha rockets fell in or around the city in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

The following information about Maalot is from Wikipedia:

Maalot is residence to approximately 21,000 people, almost 80% of which is Jewish and 20% Arab (10% Christian Arabs, 9% Muslim Arabs and 1% Druze). In the early 2000s, 52% of the population were Russian immigrants and 36% of the population was under 20 years of age.

As of 2000, CBS reported there were 6,931 salaried workers and 408 self-employed persons in the city (70% of men and women between age 20 and 60). The mean monthly wage in 2000 for a salaried worker was NIS 4,435, or $1,082 (New Israeli Shekel, in 2000 approx. 4.1 shekels to 1 US dollar, currently approx. 3.6 shekels to 1 US dollar), a real change of 7.0% over the course of 2000. Salaried men had a mean monthly wage of NIS 5,652 or $1,379 (a real change of 9.9%) versus NIS 3,073 or $750 for women (a real change of 2.0%). The average monthly income for the self-employed was NIS 6,320 or $1,541. There were 559 people who received unemployment benefits (5.3% of men and women between age 20 and 60), and 1,785 people who received an income guarantee.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shannah Tovah!

One year ago, Jacob's Hope had their first event in Israel, a food distribution for Rosh HaShannah in Karmiel, where we gave away bags of food to feed over 60 families in need. This year in Karmiel, we gave away bags of food to over 200 families in need for Rosh HaShannah, in Ashdod we gave food to another 50 families in need and in Tel Aviv another 30 families in need.

In addition to giving away bags of food, we have been able to work with the Joseph Project in Israel to give away clothing and household goods to these needy families in Ashdod and Tel Aviv.

On September 2, 2010, Jacob's Hope along with Convoy of Hope, delivered our first first 40 foot container of humanitarian aid to Israel. Items such as clothing, shoes, diapers and medical supplies to help hundreds of needy people in the land.

In Addition to the three centers we already have open, we are committed to opening at least three more centers in the next year. We are currently looking at places in Jerusalem, Ma'alot, Eilat and Ashkelon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Thunder Rolls...

The Jacob's Hope team is in Israel, and we're making noise. Saturday August 28 we had a food distribution in Karmiel, along with Rivers of Living Water, where we were able to give bags of food to over 200 needy Russian Israeli families. While we were there the team was able to make new contacts in Israel and Ukraine, and plan new projects with the leadership from Rivers of Living Water, to help even more needy Jewish people.

On Tuesday we were able to join some of our Associates on a trip to Sderot and Ashkelon. It was heartbreaking to see the 500 used missile casings that landed in Sderot in the last year, knowing that this has been a quiet year. In years past, over 100 missiles have been shot at this small town, within one kilometer of Gaza, in a single day.

We visited the Sderot Indoor Rec Center, located in a large bomb shelter, that was built by the Jewish National Fund. Again, it was heartbreaking to see children having to play in a bomb shelter because the playgrounds outside are unsafe. I cannot imagine having to raise my own children in those conditions.

In Ashkelon we visited the Barzilai Medical Center. Since new, longer-range missiles are now being smuggled into Gaza, this Hospital is vulnerable to attack. During times of heavy rocket fire, most of the Hospital has to be evacuated. However, due to funds raised by John Hagee Ministries and The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, a new Cardiac Department was built and a new sheltered emergency room is being built at this facility.

Although Jacob's Hope has not been involved with raising funds for these particular projects, we think it's important for our supports to know about some of the great work other organizations are doing in Israel and that we are always looking to partner with other organizations doing humanitarian work in the Land.

More about the rest of our work this week and future projects coming soon, in our next post...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Quiet Before the Storm

Other than buying a new air conditioner for our Ashdod store front, all has been quiet as we reach the middle of the summer. I am continuing to pay bills and work on the never ending legal issues in Israel while our distribution centers in Ashdod and Tel Aviv are continuing to give out food and clothing, and our center in Karmiel is handing out food bags every other month to 200 families. However, we are looking to make a splash at the end of August as Jacob's Hope is shipping its first container to Israel. Jeff Friedman, head of Jacob's of Hope World Missions, is coming to Israel with a few of our new members and supporters. We are hoping to film some of the activity at our distribution centers, as well the unloading of the container so you all can get a look at everything we are doing. Also, for the first time since we opened our center in Tel Aviv, we are looking to expand our activity in Israel, thanks to the generous support you all continue to give, even in these tough times.

Monday, May 31, 2010


I had been planning a trip to Ashdod on May 31, but when I found out about the Floatilla ships that were being redirected to Ashdod, I was a little hesitant to go. However, after I was assured, by my friends in Ashdod, that this would not affect my visit, I continued as planned. Currently, our distribution center in Ashdod is only giving out clothing because the congregation that we are working with there is giving out food at another location. They are able to give food to over 600 families, including Holocaust survivors and single mothers. Although they are able to do a great work at that location, it is still not enough, and they are not able to help many families in need. Because of the relatively low cost involved with running the center at this location I was able to give them money on the spot to start giving food away at our location as well. The number of families we will be able to help won't be anyway near the number of families being helped at their other location, but we will be helping those families that often get overlooked; families with short-term needs and families that are still in the process of signing-up for government aid (everything takes time in Israel, nothing happens quickly).
Meanwhile, I have been busy trying to take care of the administrative nightmare that is running a non-profit in Israel. Please pray that God's hand will be in the legal and administrative processes of this organization so that we are able to accomplish what He has appointed for us at this time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Growing Need

On March 20, about a week before Passover, Rivers of Living Water held a special event to give food to 147 needy families in Karmiel. Although we had hoped to provide these families with items that were kosher for Passover, the expense of these items, in combination with the growing number of families looking for support, exceeded our budget. However, we were able to provide all of these families with bags of food, along with twelve additional Ethiopian families that we delivered the bags to. Originally, we had planned to distribute food on a monthly basis, but we now have close to 200 needy families who we have been able to sign-up for aid. Unitl we can increase our funding, or help get these families other sources of income, we will have to cut back our events to once every other month. However, many hearts are opening up as we continue to provide aid. These families want to know more about the people that are showing they care about them when no one else does.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

An Unofficial Opening

Last week, on February 21, Agape held one final work day in order to open their humanitarian aid center, a joint effort with Tikvat Yacov. Everything was cleaned, new shelves were built, old shelves were extended, clothes were unpacked, folded and neatly placed on shelves and food bags were prepared for distribution.

This week, on February 28, Agape, in partnership with Tikvat Yacov, unofficially opened their doors to the public. So what is an "unofficial opening?" That simply means that next month we will be having an official grand-opening event, but that we aren't going to wait that long to open our doors and help those in need. Tonight, we had a small gathering of those involved in opening the center to pray over the new manager and volunteers as well as say "thank you" to all those who put in their time and effort to make our work in Tel Aviv a reality.

With that being said, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the donors, workers and volunteers who are still Stateside that have helped to make Tikvat Yacov a success in Israel, now with two fully operational humanitarian centers. May the Lord bless you as you have blessed Israel!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The work continues in Ashdod with our distribution center now fully up and running. We even received a certificate of appreciation for the work we are doing from a local daycare for children of single parents. Serval large boxes of clothing have already been distributed to over 50 local families.

As work continues in Ashdod, we are preparing to open the center in Tel Aviv. I will post details about the Tel Aviv Grand Opening as they become available.

Check out the pictures from my latest visit to Ashdod:

And also of the progress in Tel Aviv:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ethiopian Jews

On January 22, 2010, Rivers of Living Water, with funds provided by Tikvat Yacov, held a special food distribution targeting Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Although many of these Jews came to Israel almost two decades ago, they are still having trouble integrating into Israeli society. As I learned, moving to Israel in July of last year, moving from your native country, your home, to a completely different culture, especially without knowing the language upon arrival, is very difficult and frustrating. Adding to that difficulty is the fact that many of these Jews were separated from family members, many are sick or elderly and many have little education. Many of these Jews were farmers in Ethiopia, but lack the knowledge or resources for modern farming.
Centuries of anti-Semitism and war almost completely wiped out the Ethiopian Jews, who were estimated to have once numbered around 500,000. However, upon arriving in Israel, their persecution did not end, with many orthodox Jews questioning their Jewry and even calling for them to be “re-circumcised.”
Because of their History, many of these Ethiopian Jews are very skeptical of any help that is offered to them and the turn out was relatively low compared with previous efforts, with only 30, or so, families receiving food bags. Many even refused to have their picture taken by me while receiving their bags of food. However, Zechariah teaches us not to despise small beginnings, and we will continue to reach out to this community.
For more information about Ethiopian Jews, click on the links below.
A BBC News article on Ethiopian Jews:
A brief history of Ethiopian Jews:
Wikipedia article on Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel):