Avraham Herzlich is a 76-year-old expat from the United States. In the 1960’s, Herzlich gave up the hustle and bustle of the New York high-tech industry to walk in the footsteps of the Jewish forefathers in the Land of Israel.
Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Herzlich decided devote his life to the Land and became a shepherd. He married a woman from Tiberias, and the couple had 11 children and today have over 70 grandchildren. Herzlich later moved to Samaria to take care of six of his grandchildren when their parents were killed in a terror attack some 15 years ago. To reach his family, he walked with his herd of goats from Tiberias to Tapuach, a journey of some 10 days travel.
Each day, Herzlich sits in the fields of the Jewish homeland, tending to his herd of goats and reading from the Bible. Instilling in his children and grandchildren the ancient values of the Jewish Bible, Herzlich forged a bond within his descendents of loving the Land and His word.
Singing Psalms together out in the fields with his grandchildren, to this day many join Herzlich in his Shepherd’s Tent out in the hills of Judea and Samaria. But not everything was roses for this biblical living family.
David Ha’ivri, Avraham’s son-in-law and a well known political activist fighting on behalf of Jewish right to Judea and Samaria, told Breaking Israel News that “approximately three years ago, the grazing area around Tapuach was exhausted and the government was just threatening to tear down Migron, so Avraham moved his herd to just outside of Migron to show his support.”
Once Avraham arrived to the embattled community, Arab thieves came and stole his entire herd in one night. “400 goats were taken from him. His entire livelihood swept away in one night,” said Ha’ivri.
The goats were taken into Palestinian Authority controlled territory, which made them very hard to track down. After two months of searching, the Israeli police managed to find 20 of the goats and returned them to Avraham.
Mollie Ha’ivri, Avraham’s oldest daughter and wife of David, realized that her father Avraham has a very important story to tell. “It was hard for him to manage all of these animals as he was getting on in years. She helped him to manage his focus into telling his story,” Ha’ivri reminisced.
In order to help tell his story, Mollie and David built a tent in the spirit of the forefather Abraham where tourists and visitors could sit and visit with Avraham and hear about his life spent serving God. People from all over the world flock to the Jewish Shepherd’s Tent to witness the bible coming alive.
The Shepherd’s Tent and Avraham have played host to over 1,000 people since its inception.
However, recently, Herzlich’s otherwise pastoral life was turned upside down. Earlier this month, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria came and destroyed his tent, claiming the “simple structure” was an illegal outpost on grazing land.
“The land is not privately owned, it is a simple structure that is covered with simple fabric. It was not a set building. However the Civil Command decided to demolish the structure which was determined to be an illegal building, regardless,” said Ha’ivri.
“The tent was open to the wind on all four sides to accept people from any which way they are coming. We weren’t expecting any problems with the Civil Administration. Then last week they came and destroyed the tent. It wasn’t an established building.”
The family is looking to relocate the tent to a nearby area in which they can receive authorization from all necessary bodies. “The regional administration has been very positive and is looking to help us currently, so we are hopeful,” said Ha’ivri.
Despite being torn down, people still flock to the Jewish heartland to visit with Avraham and witness a true Biblical character in modern times. “We are very touched by the outpouring of love that we have seen by those who visit with us. It means a lot to us, and to what we are doing,” Ha’ivri stated.
“We are trying to keep a very positive outlook. Just one hundred years ago our grandfathers were living in the diaspora and had little hope of ever leading a life like this. And here we are leading the life that our forefathers led thousands of years ago in our land. It is a huge leap,” Ha’ivri told Breaking Israel News. “And while with any major accomplishment there will be setbacks, we are trying very hard to stay focused and stay positive, on the power that our generation has.”
The family has set up an online fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to allow supporters to help rebuild the Avraham in his quest to rebuild the Shepherd’s Tent.