From a distinguished past to an exciting future at the iconic Beit Immanuel congregation

The true beauty of Jaffa, a small port town integrated into the Tel Aviv metropolis, lies in how it gracefully links the old with the new. In an almost poetic but groundbreaking way its colorful ancient paths ease into busy streets of Israel’s hub of innovation. Tel Aviv and Jaffa are a picturesque contrast, and yet they blend beautifully along the coastline, flushed by the same shiny waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

In one of the quaint colonial neighborhoods of Jaffa is an elegant facility that predates the State of Israel. The community center and guest house called Beit Immanuel has been established by CMJ – Church’s Ministry among Jewish People.

Despite housing an openly Christian institution, the building and its gardens draw the attention of many Israelis. A few years ago local schools even included Beit Immanuel on heritage walks for their students, to explore the region’s history.

The British mission of CMJ started weekly services in Jaffa as early as the 1960s, which were initially held on Sundays and conducted in English.

However, it was soon recognized that for the assembly to thrive, it needed to acknowledge and appreciate its location. As a result, in the 1980s the services were moved to Saturdays, the main language became Hebrew, and Biblical feasts (often also called Jewish holidays) were observed. By 1988 David Lazarus became the pastor and for the next 30 years has served the congregation in that role.

Well into his tenure, in the year of 2000, a young couple from Russia showed up at the congregation out of the blue. Aleksey and Alla Raikhstadt moved to Israel from, what some may call, the end of the earth – from the far eastern part of Russia that even the Trans-Siberian Railway doesn’t reach. Young and full of life, they arrived in Jaffa with great dreams to serve God and the people of Israel.

Leaving his troubled past behind, Aleksey wanted to find a congregation for his family to set roots in. And when they discovered Beit Immanuel, Aleksey knew they were there to stay. It became their spiritual home, their family, and a base to serve God alongside others. Under the mentorship of David Lazarus, it wasn’t long before Aleksey was included in the leadership of the congregation.

Today, almost twenty years later, Aleksey seems even more excited about ministry than he was when he first arrived in Israel. His love for the Word of God is so evident that it’s almost contagious. His dream is to see the congregation grow in their knowledge of and passion for the Holy Scriptures. So, it comes as no surprise that this summer David Lazarus has entrusted the role of senior pastor at Beit Immanuel to Aleksey.

Over the years Beit Immanuel has been a springboard for Messianic leaders and several Messianic congregations in Israel. Many who immigrated to the land from other countries started their journey here, at the legendary compound in Jaffa.

The congregation could boast about playing a significant role in the expansion of the believing community in Israel, but Beit Immanuel is not about to rest on their laurels.

To Aleksey, his family, and the community, what lies ahead is even more exciting than what they have seen so far. 

To learn more about Beit Immanuel, visit their FIRM Member Profile Here >

Estera Wieja
Estera Wieja is a journalist, book author and public speaker, focused on the topics of Israel, Jewish history, and Judeo-Christian culture. Born and raised in Poland, Estera is a regular contributor to "Our Inspirations" magazine in Poland. She holds a Bachelor degree in Communications and Media from Azusa Pacific University (California, USA), and a Master degree in Journalism from University of Warsaw, Poland. Estera has lived in Jerusalem, Israel for several years before joining the staff at FIRM in 2018.
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