Samuel and Susan Smadja, Founders of Sar-El Tours & Conferences, and owners of Sar-El Group which owns seven businesses.
A young Tunisian Jew who lost his father in the Holocaust was given a Bible by a Christian friend and was challenged to search the Scriptures to see if Yeshua was indeed the Messiah promised by the prophets. This young man, Victor Smadja, with the horrors of World War II still fresh, took the challenge very seriously and pored over the Scriptures for two solid years. Finally he knew in his heart that Yeshua, the Son of God, was sent to bring him salvation. As far as is known, he became the only male born again Jew in all of Tunisia. In 1956, Victor brought his fiancée Suzy to faith and three days after they were married, they moved to Israel.
Samuel Smadja, the youngest of their four children, was born in Jerusalem when the city was still divided (the Old City was under Jordanian occupation) and when there were only about 2,200,000 Jewish citizens in all of Israel.
Early on, his parents noticed Samuel was having a very difficult time in school because of what today is known as a severe case of dyslexia. He simply couldn’t spell. They enrolled him in a vocational school where he could get extra help. Nevertheless, he wasn’t able to receive a high school diploma even though he attended a full 12 years.
However, in his school, he was captivated by a course in tourism, and immediately knew that some day he wanted to work in the tourism business.
His father, Victor, began the first congregation for Israelis in Jerusalem and is known as one of the early pioneers for what is now the Messianic Jewish movement in Israel. Victor was, of course, very bold about his faith. But Samuel, being the only believer in his school at the time, admits he denied his faith many times.
However, when as a soldier he found himself in the middle of the Lebanese War, he heard a voice ask a question inside, the same question Elijah had challenged Israel with some 3,000 years earlier: “How long will you falter between two opinions?”
Then Samuel, feeling a tremendous peace inside and around him on the battlefield, made his peace with God. He immediately began to work with his father, focusing on teenage camps and services for young adults, which he continued for many years.
After finishing the army, he began searching for work in a tourist company, but no one wanted him because he couldn’t spell. Finally he went to one company and said, “I’ll work for you for free. And then if I bring you business you can pay me a commission.” The owner agreed.
Meanwhile, Samuel’s father told him, “If you want to work in tourism, you need added value to your skills. You need another language.” So Victor sent Samuel to Germany to study German. In six months he returned with an astounding grasp of German—even though he couldn’t spell! But everyone realized God had given him a gift for languages. He now has a professional level of Hebrew, English, French and German.
Samuel, always the visionary, realized there are many Christians in India, and so in 1988 went there to see if he could generate some tourism to Israel. He wasn’t able to develop much business at that time, but did meet a famous Indian pastor and evangelist who began to prophesy over him, telling him God was going to use him mightily in the tourism business in a way that would impact Israel. At that time, there was nothing to confirm such a prophecy, but Samuel returned to Israel greatly encouraged. Soon, with his commission, he was making more money than his boss!
In 1993, Samuel felt it was time to open up his own tour company, but he needed $200,000 to get started. He went to his father and asked him to co-sign with him at the bank. Victor, known for his no-nonsense demeanor, replied “Who did you say gave you this vision?” When Samuel answered, “God!” Victor then replied, “Good. So go ask Him!”
Samuel was soon on a plane to Germany to offer 49% of his new company to a Christian investor. Armed with a business plan, he sat with the German man for two hours. The investor never asked to see the business plan, and simply gave Samuel the letter of credit for $200,000 for a small amount of interest—which Samuel paid back in a year and a half.
As he began his new company, Sar-El Tours, many competitors actually tried to get his business blacklisted by all the Jerusalem hotels. The Orthodox published newspaper stories, demanding people boycott his business because of his faith.
But Christian leaders like the late Pastor Chuck Smith began to use Sar-El. The late Dr. Paul Crouch also began using Sar-El Tours for TBN trips to Israel. We at Maoz immediately understood the significance of an Israeli tour company owned and operated by a Messianic Jew, and for several years carried a banner on our website advertising Sar-El Tours. It was clear to us that Christian tourists coming to Israel should use businesses owned by Israel’s Messianic Jews.
But then the Arab Intifadas took place in Israel, with suicide bombers and murderers killing over 1,000 Israelis. Even many Jews stopped touring Israel and tour company after tour company folded. However, Christian volunteers came through Sar-El to assist the nation on ministry trips during this horrific period. And amazingly, Christians continued to come in spite of everything. Sar-El went through difficult times, but survived.
Today, Sar-El Tours & Conferences is one of the largest tour agencies in Israel, serving about 50,000 tourists a year. And the Sar-El Group, consisting of a number of businesses, is now the largest employer of Israeli believers in the country.
As one of many examples of how God is using Samuel, he was invited to a special event of Who’s Who of Israelis with former politicians, military generals, and significant businessmen and women. Samuel used his invitation to share the Gospel with dozens of the most influential people in Israel. David had beaten Goliath. To God be the glory.
When Victor Smadja recently went to his reward, his son, Samuel, with all he has on his plate, decided he would also take up the leadership of the Jerusalem congregation “Messianic Assembly” that his father founded.
HOW TO BLESS ISRAEL’S MESSIANIC JEWISH COMMUNITYBY VACATIONING IN ISRAEL! (and getting to know Israeli believers!)
Maoz Israel Ministries has three principle goals:
- To bring the Good News to the lost sheep of Israel.
- To help raise the spiritual and economic well-being of the Messianic Community in Israel.
- To give Christians and Messianic Jews around the world a spiritual and prophetic perspective of the real news in the Middle East as it occurs—and connecting it with the Old and New Testaments.
In this July issue, we get to promote our second goal.
We will open a window on Israeli Messianic Jewish believers who are in the tourist business, serving Christians and Messianic Jews at B&B, hostels, apartments and a hotel.
If you need a retreat with no pressures or obligations, just come to the Holy Land and relax! While unwinding and resting, you will be supporting the Body of believers here in His Land.
So choose a location and be a part of what God is doing in Israel—while you enjoy your vacation!
A comfortable two story Villa in a garden with a large lounge and open plan kitchen. Five bedrooms available for guests—Sleeps 9. Two rooms with double beds including a master bedroom, three with singles. Bathroom shared except for master bedroom.
Kitchen facilities, with coffee and tea available.
Breakfast available on request.
Easy access to places of interest in Galilee.
Midge Butler: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rechov Aya no. 54, Makosh, Karmiel
Tel: +(972) 52-385-5953
Home: +(972) 4-958-6887
A peaceful getaway in the Galilee. Come hear the birds sing as you gaze at the mountains of the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee.
Lovely 3 bedroom apartment, sleeps 7 with a queen size and 5 singles beds in the midst of a thriving believing community. Just 10 minutes from Jordan River, Sea of Galilee and Tiberias Hot Springs. Only 15 minutes from downtown Tiberias.
Central air, fully equipped kitchen, computer work station, free wifi and laundry.
Available rates per person or for the entire apartment.
Michael and Lucy Zeitler
HaMatsok 13, Poriyya Illit
Are you longing to escape the pressure of everyday life and the craziness of the city? Then this is the perfect get-away for you! Come spend some down time in a serene Galilean village with a breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights and the Gilead mountains.
Our luxurious roof apartment offers a fully equipped kitchen, a cozy living and dining area, a huge balcony with lots of seating space, a bathroom with Jacuzzi, one private bedroom with a queen size bed, an open loft area with two single beds, a sleeper couch for two people, air-conditioning, wifi, TV, gas grill and more. The apartment is great for a couple, family, or small groups up to 6 people.
In the middle of the German Colony in Haifa, near the harbor and at the foot of Mount Carmel is the Bethel Hostel. We offer a centrally-located, clean and affordable accommodation for Christian groups and individuals who love the land of Israel.
We make breakfast for groups of 20+ people and provide a guest kitchen.
Haifa port, the German Colony, cafes, shops and the lower entrance to the Bahai gardens are within walking distance from the hostel. The beach, the Louis Promenade, the Carmel center, shopping malls, etc. are easily accessible by bus.
Also day trips to Acre, Caesarea, Nazareth, Tiberias, Megiddo, etc. can be made from the hostel by public transportation. Of course, Mt. Carmel was made famous by the Prophet Elijah who called down fire on his sacrifice to the God of Israel.
Eight miles (12 km) north of Tel Aviv, you will find a luxurious apartment one-minute walking distance from the beach. Herzliya Pituach is an upscale suburb, and home to many beachfront residences. The town has a lovely commercial center, beaches, good restaurants and a large mall at the nearby Marina.
Our studio apartment is ideal for a couple with one or two children, or individual travelers as well. It has a comfortable queen size bed, and a sofa convertible into double bed. LCD TV with cable, wifi Internet service, air conditioning and a fully equipped kitchen.
Beit Immanuel is a Guest House situated in the old American/German Colony, a historical area in the south side of Tel Aviv. Close to Old Jaffa, 5 minutes’ walk to the Flea Market or to the Mediterranean Sea and its sandy beaches. More than a guest house, Beit Immanuel is a peaceful and calm place filled with love and availability. It is also a house of prayer, run by a committed and dynamic team. Breakfast is fresh with cheeses, fruits, veggies, toast, cereal, yogurt, etc.
The carpark is gated and there’s a nice courtyard outside.
Our accommodations are ideal for all travelers, couples, families with kids, as well as groups. We offer private rooms with bathrooms as well as large dormitory rooms, all air-conditioned, for younger people and those on limited budgets. In our lobby there is free wifi. Don’t expect a 5 star accommodation, but be ready to meet smiles and kindness, and you will surely decide to be back on your next stay in Jaffa.
For prices and reservations see:
Tel: +(972) 3-682-1459
8 Auerbach Street
Corner of Eilat Street—Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Hotel Gilgal is a boutique hotel owned by Yacov and Elisheva Damkani, who set out to establish a unique hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv, on a quiet street, only two minutes’ walk from the beach, with a relaxing and intimate atmosphere, decorated with original works of biblical art and pictures of the land of Israel.
This 3 star superior boutique hotel with 50 rooms, places the utmost priority on providing personal and warm service to every guest along with modern accommodations and high standard of comfort.
Hotel Gilgal has a biblical theme rooted in the history of our people and the land of Israel. The name Gilgal is derived from the Bible, Joshua 5:9: “Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.”
Ten minutes drive from Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Hills Inn is a family-run Bed and Breakfast, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Great place to stay to see the sites in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, as well as easy access to the airport. Full Israeli breakfast, fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, free Internet. Restaurants within walking distance. Luxurious, American-style beds. With 10 rooms and 3 apartments, we can accommodate individuals or groups of 25 or more. Queen-size beds and singles.
The B&B was started by Chaim & Ruti Singerman, a Messianic familly with 7 children who made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel in 2008. It is located where the Ark of the Covenant rested in Kiriath Jearim, where King David came to retrieve it from the home of Obed-Edom, to bring it up to the City of David. Today it is known as Abu Ghosh, a town where Jews and Arabs live in real peaceful coexistence. The Arab restaurants are famous throughout Israel.
We would love to host you for a life-changing connection to Israel.
Desert Rose guest apartment is in Midreshet Ben Gurion, Sde Boker. The village sits on the edge of a canyon that overlooks the Wilderness of Zin Nature Reserve.
The apartment sleeps 6, has a self-catering kitchen and private patio. The area is popular for nature trails, desert springs (Avdat and Ein Akev) and perfect for time out and reflection while in the desert.
Amazingly this small desert town is also home to a growing community of believers. Come and discover the hidden gems in the Negev.
Eilat is the southern most city in Israel. We are on the Red Sea and we border Jordan and Egypt. We’re 300 meters from the water and a 15 minute walk from Eilat’s seaside promenade and shopping mall.
Our B&B Inn “Heaven Scent” is a cozy and quiet, relaxing place with all the personal attention you deserve. We are a couple from California who lived near the beach. It was almost as nice there as it is in Eilat! We’ve been in Israel since the turn of the century. My wife has had lots of experience in the service industry. We want you back again and again. If we can help you forget about where you came from and the worries you left behind, we’ve done a good job of giving you a little of “Heaven Scent.”
We offer a “suite” with a queen size bed and a private bathroom with a private terrace/balcony, flat-screen TV and mini-fridge; and a private room with twin beds and a shared bathroom. Can sleep 6. A full bed and breakfast – free parking (usually), free wifi, air conditioning.
John and Jan Tilton
Cell John: +(972) 50-930-9991
Cell Jan: +(972) 50-230-9991
While Samuel Smadja was still serving in the Israel Defense Forces, he began to understand the plan that God was laying out for his life. He was to build a Messianic business that would be a witness to Israelis, provide jobs for Israeli believers, and be a bridge between Israelis and Christians and the Messianic community in Israel.
He believes Christian and Messianic business people should be involved in both the marketplace and ministry. His confidence lies in the Scripture, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you!”
In short, he felt a tour agency run by a Messianic Jew would be a another tool to bring the Good News to Israel, and to bless Christians around the world.
Before Samuel opened his company, Christians were generally bussed from traditional church buildings to more churches throughout Israel. Instead, Samuel’s vision was not only to concentrate on ancient Israel, but to expose Christian tourists to the miracle of modern Israel, and especially, the Living Stones – today’s Jewish followers of Yeshua.
Here are some of his goals for the tourists he hosts:
HI TECH: He still meets tourists who are surprised that Israelis don’t ride around on camels all day long! Instead, visitors are made aware that Israel is, for good reason, called “The Startup Nation.” Its technology innovators are in high demand by many companies such as Google, Microsoft and Intel which do research and development in Israel.
BIBLICAL VALUES: Samuel has made sure his company serves always with integrity, honesty, hard work and respect for others, with a passion for the good of others.
BIBLE-BASED GUIDES: His licensed guides – who number over 500 – always lead with the Bible in hand. They begin with the Word of God. They then tie together all the other sources of information such as archeological sites and museums. But their starting point is always the Bible. Compare this with a guide who fails to share the New Covenant application at Caesarea. Is it just a Roman amphitheater or also the place where the Apostle Paul was sent out to the nations? The place where Herod had a palace or the place where Peter met Cornelius and the Gospel reached the Gentiles in a new wave of evangelism?
IMPACTING ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS: Every new opportunity God presents to Samuel gives him more opportunities to impact Israel and the nations. He has served politicians, presidential candidates, senators, cabinet members, heads of state, and professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, boxing, etc. Today, he is regional director of TBN; viewers can often see him hosting interviews with Israelis.
HIS GOAL: Samuel’s desire is to operate his tours in a way that will absolutely change lives. Visiting Israel gives a greater hunger to read the Word of God. One pastor told him that 10 days of touring in Israel is equal to a year in Bible school. He believes experiencing Israel will encourage a spiritual encounter with the God of Israel. Samuel has seen how God has talked with visitors as they see the places where Yeshua lived and died and rose again.
His passion is that tourists will leave Israel, not with solutions to this nation’s woes, but with an urge to pray. Preachers will change how they preach. Samuel believes it is a real loss to both preachers and their flocks if a pastor preaches about Israel without ever having been here. He says it’s like selling a car without ever seeing it!
Samuel is persuaded that no pastor has a reason for not coming to Israel, for not making it a priority—no matter what denomination.