The Beth Shalom Guesthouse During Corona Days

Sarah Maranzenboim-Winkler

The Beth Shalom Hotel, a small Christian guesthouse, recently went through a difficult time. For more than a year, we could not take in any tourist groups; could not offer guided tours through the region to visit Biblical sites. This was true also for those Christian and Jewish guests, who like to come to Beth Shalom because they appreciate the pleasant, calm atmosphere, the cleanliness, and the friendly demeanor of the longtime staff. Those guests now stayed away, since everything was closed down. From one day to the next, all activities had to cease.

The Beth Shalom House, not functioning like a usual small hotel, in time became something of a second “home” for the Bethesda congregation in Haifa. Even before the corona situation, this congregation used the premises of Beth Shalom for children and young people’s ministry, as well as some social activities. During the corona pandemic, the three, relatively large rooms at the hotel (dining room, assembly room, and recreation room) offered an ideal way to sidestep some of the limitations. Since the hotel was closed for business, it was an easy decision to let it be used for the congregational activities.

When it was possible again to gather under certain restrictions, Beth Shalom became the place for child and youth activities. And every time, we followed the corona mandates: when 10 or 20 people were allowed to meet in a closed room, we had the capability to separate into groups. When 50 people could meet outside, we would get together in the garden—weather permitting, of course. Given the long time of isolation, these activities became very important for the spiritual and social life of the church members. Not only did the young people of the Bethesda congregation utilize our premises, but also those from an Arabic church in Haifa.

Since for a long time, church services were possible only over Zoom, the same applied also for the “Sabbath school” for children. When meetings with corona limitations were again possible, we decided to hold the “Sabbath school” on Fridays at Beth Shalom. In addition to the spiritual values, social contact was also very important for the children. Just as during the youth activities, we consistently had to improvise to adhere to corona regulations. Besides the child and youth activities, various other meetings for prayer and get-together were also held at Beth Shalom.

During the heavy bombardment in the South, we offered our house to congregations in that area; particularly for families that were very much in need of a few quiet days. It was a most difficult time, especially for families with children. One family, which had no safe place in their home, was forced to find protection in a public bomb shelter. Staying at Beth Shalom was relief from an untenable situation. It was also a great blessing for this family: their children got to know our children, played and did crafts with them, and together they listened to Bible stories.

We thank the Lord for all we were able to do for Him during this time and continue to do presently. In Israel, things are beginning to return to normal [but the Delta variant is renewing concerns]. The only exception is international tourism, due to continued limits on air travel. But we wait patiently, because we know that all things work together for good to those who love God (Rom 8:28). At present, we haven’t yet overcome the crisis, but are confident that with God’s help, we will emerge stronger.

Grateful for all prayers and support, we send our greetings to you from Haifa, Israel.

Midnight Call - 10/2021

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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