Meet the Families

Rafi needs a haircut. He always does.

Natasha & Rafi

We, both Rafi and Natasha, were born in Miami, Florida, on October 9, 1983. This wasn’t planned, but it turned out just fine. We also went to the same elementary school, a small Jewish day school in south Miami. No, we weren’t elementary school sweethearts or anything. In fact we never said more than two words to each other in 6 years because we were both shy nerds.

Natasha was the first to make the move to Israel. She grew up in the Young Judaea Zionist youth movement and her connection to Israel grew as time passed. After spending a year in the Jewish State, she realized something very simple: As a member of the Jewish nation, she had to return home. Our people have been praying and dreaming of our return to the Holy Land ever since the Roman expulsion, and now we can just go. For free. As easy as that is, God doesn’t make decisions for anyone, so she decided, on her own steam, to leave her birthplace for the Promised Land.

Meanwhile, Rafi was studying in New York. He always wanted to move to Israel but never had the courage to do it alone. One day, on Israel’s 59th Independence Day, he got an email. It was this girl from elementary school. She was kind of cute. An email exchange started, followed a few months later by Rafi getting an El Al plane ticket. The rest, as they say, is Jewish history.

Tzivia the Samarian, looking all Samarian.

We became “settlers” as they call us, simply because we were looking for a nice suburban area that we could afford, with people we could get along with and share a community. It only took a pilot weekend to decide we wanted to put down roots in Samaria, the Shomron.  We’re here because God gave this land to us and we have a Divine responsibility to live on it.

Rafi writes the content for Settlers of Samaria. And just as Moses wrote about himself in the third person in the Bible, Rafi emulates Biblical heroes by doing the same. He’s a marketing manager. Natasha is an English and gymnastics teacher.

Tzivia was born on June 1 2010. She’s a baby, and as of yet does not know where she lives. But she eats a lot of food, that’s for sure.

The Barixes

The Barixes, trying to take an artistic photo of themselves, semi successfully.

(Rafi did not write this part. His footnotes are in italics.)

Hi! We’re Baron and Alix and we were both born in the UK! Baron was born in England and I was born in Glasgow, Scotland!

(The “Barixes” are not their real last names. They were given that name by Rafi when he just met them and didn’t remember their last names, but did remember that they were Baron and Alix, so he called them the Barixes. They kept the name. Rafi suspects they’ll have it legally changed soon.)

We grew up in what can only be described as the most tamest of tame environments, we wonder now if that could have been the inspiration to move to the biggest jungle of them all- The Land of Israel!

At the young age of 19, we both came to Israel- Baron served in the Golani  fighting unit in the Israeli Defense Forces and Alix learned Hebrew in Jerusalem. Our paths crossed several times before eventually deciding we were destined to be here together when we accidentally met on the first day of University!

We love Judea and Samaria…. and our little boy Gidon- who is one year old!

(Gidon is quiet and likes playing with Tzivia’s toy cow. Tzivia doesn’t mind.)

Moshe & Suzy

Nothing more need be said in this caption.

The family so far consists of Moshe, Suzy, and little Aaron.  Moshe moved to the Holy Land at the age of 3 and grew up with his British family in Raanana.

(Moshe is the brawn behind Settlers of Samaria. He speaks fluently, but because he moved to Israel when he was 3, he can’t spell so well. So Rafi fixes everything. Rafi moved to Israel when he was 24, so his spelling is fine.)

After completing the army and religious studies (yeshiva) he is now trained to teach magic and circus arts to kids all around the country. (Moshe does not, as of yet, own a Samarian circus elephant.) He has a strong passion for the Holy Land and what it means to be a Jew and to live here.

Suzy, his wife, moved to the Holy Land only 3 years ago, after feeling for some years that she could never quite fit in anywhere else in the world. She now works in marketing in the center of the country and in her (very little) spare time, loves to read and go for long walks. (There is no beach here. We’re in Samaria.) Although she has adapted to a lot of the traditions and customs, she makes sure to keep a steady stream of English tea available in the house so she never completely loses touch with her roots.

Sweet little Aaron has learned a lot of important lessons so far- like how to laugh, walk, play and most of all, how to make sure his parents never have a moment to get bored! He is the reason we want to build foundations here. He is our future. (Rafi is worried.)


The Israel Defense Forces are Really Weird

Rafi is the third from the right. Last day of basic training.

During basic training in the Israeli Army, I experienced a lot. Not all of the experiences were good, and not all of them involved bathrooms with reverse plumbing. But some of them did.

You may ask, “What, prithee, is reverse plumbing?” I can answer that. I didn’t major in philosophy for nothing. Reverse plumbing is when you’re in a situation like basic training in an army base that predates the British mandate. Back in British Premandate Time, plumbing was only just invented, you see, and they got everything right except the direction the water has to go in and the fact that the pipes have to actually not have gaping holes in them, being that if they do, the entire raisin d’frenchword of plumbing becomes defeated by a vote of everything to one, give or take one.

So I was in “Tironut” for a month, which means basic training, most of which was fine except for the bathrooms and getting yelled at by people of the age requiring daily usage of Clearasil pads. In the end, I ended up knowing how to use and clean an M16 and guard an area, which mostly involves standing around scratching oneself in several areas while strapped with something of a bloated plumber belt packed with 5 magazines loaded with 29 bullets made in Oconomowoc, WI for Government Law Enforcement Use Only, making sure that no masochistic wackos from the highway across from me invaded the army training base. Oconomowoc is in fact a real city, named after Shlomo Hayim Oconomowoc, the first Zionist Native American who had the ingenious idea of shipping all his M16 magazines to Israel).

After I guarded the Pre British Mandate Base with Reverse Plumbing, ingeniously named “Camp 80”, I was shipped to another army city called Tzrifin (literally “Bunks”) where I learned how to be a delivery boy. The course involved 7 days of classes, one of which included the issue of why one should even pay attention to complaints about service in the first place and how to tell which way was north on a map. Yup.

I really was not sure how to answer these question. Later it was revealed to me that one should deal with complaints because of “snow balls” that can get bigger and bigger if you don’t deal with them. And north was up, assuming the letters were all in the right direction.

So during the review session when the commander person asked why we should deal with complaints, I said, “Snow balls,” and she gave me a weird look.

Before the course even started, we were given an emotional motivational speech that required some serious shoveling at the end about how delivery boys are the key to the success of the entire army. The guy began his motivational speech this way:

Guy (whose name is actually Amos): What do you think was the main failure with the Second Lebanon War?
Us: Confused Look
Guy: It was the fact that there were no delivery boys! They didn’t want to go up to the North because they were afraid of the rockets! So they just stayed home! (*Note: this is actually true.) That’s why we’re recruiting you, so you can be the new and improved Second Generation Delivery Boys all loaded and ready for the Third Lebanon War which will start whenever we start bombing Iran! You’ll bring the stuff to the fighters who will go into Lebanon and shoot terrorists and get condemned by the UN for excessive use of force! Without the delivery boys, the army is nothing! You are the key to the future of the nation of Israel! Without you, I’d be dead!
Us: OK.

So I am now part of that excessive use of force all the nations of the world keep talking about. Without delivery boys like me, there would be no force at all. So I got all inspired and did the best in the entire class of 16. I even did better than the Russians, and most of them were in the Russian army previously where if you didn’t do totally awesome they would force you to play Russian Roulette with a fully loaded handgun and make you go first.

Then, today, I got to the base where I was actually going to do the delivering, only to discover that I wasn’t going to be a delivery boy at all. All I’m going to do is stack up humus up in a giant pile for the REAL delivery boys to ship off and deliver.

So when the next war breaks out, and God knows it’ll be soon, just know that I was the guy who put humus in giant piles for the delivery boys to deliver to the guys who shoot the terrorists and get condemned by the UN.

Without me, there’d be no condemnation by the UN, so just blame it on me. I take responsibility for it all.

Unfortunately, the IDF doesn’t have much use for a humor writer.

Honest FAQ

Got questions? We have answers.

Do you really need my money?

No. We are all working adults, and we earn enough money to make end’s meet. On good months we can even put some saving’s away. Rafi is a marketing manager, Natasha an English and gymnastics teacher. Moshe is a magic teacher and magician, and is in school in the University Center of Ariel (also in Samaria) learning computer science. Suzy works in a big company in Tel Aviv. The Barrixes also work in a big building doing corporate stuff near in the Azrielli Towers, Israel’s equivalent of the World Trade Center.

Then why should I donate to you?

Because unlike us, there are people in Israel who do need it. If we all end up taking out a mortgage, we will all end up buying a $200,000 house for $400,000. The difference, all interest payments, will all go to some bank executive who will use it to buy caviar and gold plated hubcaps for his limited edition Bentley GT 5000 whatever. If, however, you enable us to build houses without having to take a mortgage from a bank,  we will pay every dollar forward to causes in Israel, month by month, until the entire principle is given away.

How can you afford to do that?

Because, as said before, we are working, wage earning people with jobs. A $200,000 mortgage would cost us nearly $1300 a month for 20 years, which we would not be able to forward to charity. We would barely able to afford paying our dear bank executive so he can buy his caviar while we split our toilet paper in an attempt to squeeze by.

We don’t earn that much and we’re not rich. But if we build a house in cash with no mortgage over our heads, we would easily be able to pay $500-$1000 a month to charity. Month by month, everything would be paid forward, all to people who actually need the money and have no use for caviar and golden hubcaps, so craved by the CEO of some bank giant.

What’s the deal with the stick figures?

I (Rafi) can’t draw, but I find that basic illustrations say a lot. I did the same with my wedding invitation I drew up in 20 seconds on an oily napkin at my father in law’s house in Miami, Florida.

Why should I trust you?

This is our favorite question. Here’s the answer. The Jewish Nation has historically tried to escape its destiny and mission. That mission is to be a Light unto the Nations of the world. We want to be just like everyone else, to be left alone, not to be paid attention to. This is the entire purpose, driving force, and meaning of the Middle East “Peace Process”, the process by which we will finally be left alone after 3,000 years, or so we believe. We just want quiet and for everyone to stop looking at us as if we were some historical anomaly and why the heck are we still here etc.

God will never let any of that happen. The Jews will never be left alone.  We will either be a Light unto the world, or we will be thrown to the wolves. Again.

That’s where we come in. We, the Settlers of Samaria, are trying to be that Light. We understand the Jewish People’s mission and destiny, and we are deeply aware that the world looks to the Jews for moral leadership, whether consciously or not. When we don’t provide that leadership, God leaves us, we are hated, and the rest is Jewish history.

As such, we cannot afford to desecrate God’s name and endanger the Jewish Nation by publicly stealing other people’s hard-earned cash. Everything you give will be paid forward.

How will I receive my tax deductible receipt?

Give us your name and email. When we pay your money forward, we will donate in your name – NOT in ours, and we will email you a copy of the receipt.

Why aren’t you a 503C?

We aren’t yet, but we’re in the process of becoming one.

What are your administrative costs?

A few thousand dollars a year that we spend out of our own pockets for internet marketing purposes, printing brochures, and fueling our cars to drive to different places to speak. None of your donation goes to administrative costs. It all goes to the houses, and then from there to charity. All of it.

How much money are you going to raise?

$603,550 for three couples. It’s not just an arbitrary number. It is the number of military-ready Israelites, our great grandparents, recorded in the Bible as leaving Egypt on their way to conquer the Holy Land from the Canaanites. $200,000 is enough to build a house. Mulitply that by three for $600,000. Add $3,550 for effect.

When will my donation be paid forward?

Once we raise $603,550, we will begin building. Once the money is paid to all contractors involved, we will then begin setting aside $500 – $1000 of our salaries every month to be paid forward to causes in Israel until the entire $603,550 is paid in full.

Can I decide which charity my donation will be paid forward to?

Yes, provided that the charity of your choice does not go against our values and is one that supports Israel. You can also opt to have your money go back in to Settlers of Samaria to support the next interest-free house.

Settlers of Samaria

Charitable giving has a serious flaw. If you give charity, it may be used to feeding the hungry, or donating to a fund that helps new immigrants, or a shelter for battered women, or supporting victims of Islamic terror.

We understand. We do that too. After all, we’re not poor and we are hard-working, able-bodied adults. We all give a tenth of our salaries to charity every month. But none of us can deny the fact that once we give our money to a worthy cause, that money is spent and gone the next day. We can only hope it had its effect, but that’s just it. We can only hope.

Were the hungry fed? Yes, but they are hungry the next day. Were the new immigrants helped? Yes, but they continue to struggle. Were the terror victims supported? Of course, but their lifelong nightmares rage on. And where is your money? It was used to buy much needed relief, and we thank you. But the effect is at most temporary.

Settlers of Samaria changes all that by changing the entire concept of charity at its base. We have learned that stable and long term charitable services are the way to do this.

Instead of giving money that will in the end be used up, we give you the chance to make your donation to Israel permanent and everlasting, forever a monument to your contribution to the Jewish State.

Giving money to Israel through us, allows us to physically build a house in Israel, avoiding all bank charges and interest rates on mortgages. The result being that a $200,000 home can be paid back in 15 years instead of 30 at the same rate.

But who are we paying the money back to? There’s no bank. The answer is we’re not paying it back. We’re paying it forward. All that money we didn’t have to pay to a bank, because of you, gets paid forward to the hungry, the terrorist victims, and the new immigrants.

The result? You’ve given your money to the causes you believe in. And you’ve also built a house, a permanent, practical, real monument to you, our partner in building the Land of Israel.