Netivyah in its 40th year: Jerusalem ministry is dedicated to helping those in need and building the Body of Messiah

Netivyah food bank (Photo courtesy)

Netivyah is a non-profit organization in Jerusalem that teaches God’s Word and seeks to be a blessing by helping those in need in a variety of ways.

The Netivyah ministry – Hebrew for ‘the Way of the Lord’ – was established over 40 years ago as a teaching ministry, and today also offers a food program for the needy, distributing 150,000 meals to those in need, annually.

The organization cooperates with the Jerusalem Municipality Welfare Department to identify those in need. Israel has many new immigrants that struggle with the language and, therefore, have difficulty finding jobs, which leads to their poverty. There is also the phenomenon of single mothers not receiving money due from their former husbands. These women are forced to work and must deal with the cost of providing daycare for their children.

“Our food distribution program started when a supporter of Netivyah turned to us and offered to donate specifically to feed the hungry,” the organization’s former CEO Joseph Shulam explained.  “We started the project using just a standard home kitchen to cook. A small group of needy people came to our building and received a warm meal and a nice place to sit and eat it.”

The number of people eventually grew until there wasn’t enough space to feed them all, Shulam explained, so they started to prepare food packages for families to take home, according to their needs, including rich meat dishes with an emphasis on healthy food.

“After some time, we purchased larger, better kitchen equipment, including industrial burners. However, even with volunteers and a semi-professional kitchen, the amount of needy people who turned to us for aid was greater than the amount of food we could prepare.”

As a result, Netivyah began distributing half the food as prepared meals for people with disabilities who could not take care of themselves, as before but to the other half, they distributed the ingredients needed to prepare the food at home, which mostly consisted of chicken, pasta and rice.

By 2006, Netivyah was helping 110 families on a regular basis and was able to begin providing a larger selection and variety of food items, including fish and fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Sometime in 2008, refugees from Eritrea started coming to Israel,” Shulam explained. “They came with the clothes on their back and nothing else – hungry, unemployed and unable to speak the language. We, at Netivyah, pulled together and donated large amounts of food, soap, shampoo, cleaning products, toilet paper and clothing.”

Joseph Shulam, Netivyah founder

By 2010, Shulam said their ministry getting hundreds of requests for assistance and felt they could not properly sort through them in a professional manner, so they turned to Jerusalem’s municipal welfare offices and social workers, in order to make sure they were truly only helping those in need.

Beginning in 2013, Netivyah was working almost exclusively with the municipality.

“During all the time we operated – and continue to operate – the most important emphasis has been on respect,” Shulam said.

“Our desire has been to serve, to be a helping hand and a supporting shoulder while maintaining an attitude of regard and dignity to all who come. Our building was always clean, with air conditioning and heat, a well-stocked refreshment table with coffee, tea, and cookies, as well as games for the children.”

“At the end of 2012, after many years of prayer and legal battles with different bureaucracies and authorities, we finally got permission to conduct massive renovation on our old building.

In 2013, after many years of prayer and legal battles with different bureaucracies and authorities, Netiyvah was given permission to begin construction on a massive renovation to their old building.

During that time, the ministry had to put pause their food bank program but still wanted to help families in need. After consultation with the heads of the welfare department, they decided to continue assisting the poor by distributing food vouchers to a large local supermarket chain.

The vouchers were an easy and simple way to help and opened up more possibilities for Netivyah to make a difference in the community.

Shulam said they were able to extend their assistance to elderly Holocaust survivors and refugees, most of whom were physically unable to come to the Netivyah building and carry a heavy package back home using public transportation.

“We send a stack of vouchers to the neighborhood welfare offices and from there, it gets to those elderly people, most of whom do not have any family to help them or care for them. In addition, most of them are also immigrants thus have no pension, and live off a modest social security stipend,” he said. “These elderly live in great need, often their daily choice is whether to purchase food or purchase medicine. We hear heartbreaking stories about those we help.”

Shulam explained that they provide assistance to the elderly for an average of two months.

“The reason is to make sure they do not grow accustomed to a higher income and change their lifestyle. The goal is to help them out with a few bills or give them a good meal, without it coming at the expense of medication.”

The municipality is grateful for Netivyah’s work in Jerusalem.

One senior social worker once told the ministry: ‘You have become a life-giving artery for so many families.’

With that food voucher distribution program in place, Netivyah has been able to help the municipality with additional projects, such as providing warm meals for youth in an afterschool program designed to help juveniles at risk of dropping out of school.

“In addition, we also help with one-time emergency assistance to families that have some urgent need, or by purchasing cleaning products and paint for volunteers that clean and repair houses for the elderly,” Shulam said.

“Of course, at the top of our list are the needy within the Body of the Messiah. We help believers from many congregations throughout the city.

“Praise God! Through your generous support and prayers, we are able to do this,” Shulam said. “We can only do this good work because of the prayers and generous support of disciples of Yeshua around the world, who are searching for ways to support Israel.”

“Each person and every welfare office that works with us or receives our aid knows that the donations come from believers in Yeshua who love Israel and want to help Israel in the name of Yeshua.”

Netivyah runs the ‘Houses for Healing’ program that provides housing accommodations for families of patients who come to the city for special surgery. Families in need are provided with a small furnished apartment at no charge near the Hadassah Ein Kerim hospital in Jerusalem.

“Our mission is to aid the sick by providing free temporary housing to those receiving medical treatment at Jerusalem hospitals.”

According to Shulam, these families are not just Jewish Israelis but Arabs from neighboring countries, many of whom are children who receive free life-saving procedures from Israeli surgeons who donate their services to help with medical needs. Medical needs include emergency surgery, accidents, premature birth, chemotherapy and radiation for cancer patients, heart surgeries, and other complex medical conditions.

Netivyah works with Messianic Jewish congregations who trace their family roots back to the 15th-century Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions when Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism but continued to live secretly as Jews. Netivyah supports congregations of Anusim believers (Hebrew for ‘forced or compelled’) in Brazil and other locations.

Education is important to the Netivyah ministry, which regularly gives scholarships to believing young people in Israel. Their “Adopt a Student” program raises money to support Messianic youth and allow them to complete their studies. The concept behind the program is to help the messianic body as a whole to become more founded and grounded within Israeli society.

The program has helped over 500 students, ages 18 to 26, from local congregations to attend university.

This year, alone, Netivyah has distributed scholarships to 28 Messianic believers and is in the middle of processing dozens of applications for next year.

The ministry’s support is limited to Israeli institutions with the purpose of “helping young believers who are just starting out in their adult lives, as opposed to older adults who are making vocational changes. The intent is to strengthen the Messianic body by encouraging and supporting the next generation,” said Daniel Stern, who runs the program.

Daniel Stern (L) and Yehuda Bechana on a teaching visit in Switzerland (Photo courtesy)

Netivyah runs an ongoing weekly 15-hour Zoom Bible Study course for pastors and clergy in Zimbabwe. The lessons are being taught by various Netivyah staff members, including Shulam and Netivyah’s Director Yehuda Bachana.

Netivyah’s congregation building on Narkiss Street in central Jerusalem is available to any Messianic group who has a need. It has been used by local congregation youth groups and social gatherings of Messianic-believing soldiers who serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Messianic singles groups have also used the facility,

In addition, a film and recording studio are available to Messianic musicians and musical groups to use for free.

Every Purim holiday, Netivyah prepares a gift package for believing soldiers serving in the military. Over the last four years, the ministry has partnered with DFW New Beginnings Church in New Bedford, Texas. Since that cooperation began, the value and quality of the gifts distributed to young Israeli soldiers have improved significantly, including electronic accessories.

For more information about Netivyah’s additional  programs, make a donation or visit a congregational meeting, visit