Massive Wildfire Burns Settlement of “Love and Prayer” Leaving Many Homeless

May 24, 2019

2 min read

Residents of Mevo Modiin were evacuated on Thursday as wildfires burned out of control at the edges of their settlement. They returned on Friday to shells of burned-out houses as 45 years of hard work turned to ash and rubble.

Unseasonably hot weather created dangerous conditions in the Ben Shemen Forest east of Tel Aviv. As a fire burst out in the forest, officials evacuated residents including the 250 people living in Mevo Modiin. Residents were forced to flee with only a few minutes warning. They returned on Friday morning to find approximately 40 of the 50 homes in the town severely damaged by fire. In addition to the homes, the water, sewage, and electrical infrastructure were damaged. Residents were not allowed to return home, and firefighters are concerned that the fire will reignite over the course of Friday.

The disaster comes one day after the holiday of Lag BaOmer on which many Jews light ceremonial bonfires. Due to the dry and hot conditions, authorities tried to prevent the traditional bonfires but were unsuccessful. Some officials said embers from improperly doused fires contributed to the breakout.


The community of Mevo Modiin was founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, known as the singing rabbi. His brand of Judaism, based on love and inclusion, attracted many from the hippie counterculture in the 1960’s. Many young Jews came to his small synagogues in New York City and San Francisco called “The House of Love and Prayer.” Many of these people followed him to Israel, settling in Mevo Modiin in 1975 when the region was largely unsettled.  The group is a collection of eclectic individuals, including musicians, artists, organic farmers, wine makers, perfumers, and Torah scholars. Their hand-painted synagogue, itself a work of art, was filled with joyous service based on the songs of Rabbi Carlebach.

Israel365 organized a fundraising effort to help the people of Mevo Modiin, most of whom were left with literally just the clothes on their backs. After building up their community for 45 years, they must start over. Any help would be appreciated. Please donate here.

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