Rachel Netanel was born and raised in Jerusalem in a religious Jewish family of Moroccan descent. Her family tree goes back to the well-known Rabbi Alkabetz, who helped write the Jewish Siddur (prayer book). She struggled with an elitist mentality, believing that God only cares for the Jewish people. Eventually she left the religious lifestyle she was raised in, but held onto her faith in God.
In 1994 she was working as a designer when a couple entered her store wanting to buy a carpet for their Messianic synagogue. They shared the Gospel with her and she was immediately drawn to the presence of God in them. She wanted to hear more about their faith and began to develop a relationship with them. She felt a strong attraction towards Messianic Judaism but struggled with accepting Yeshua as the Messiah.
One day, during a time of prayer in a Messianic synagogue her heart began to soften towards Yeshua. As she read the New Testament, the words seemed to jump off the page, and it was clear to her that Yeshua really was the promised Messiah. She was joyful and angry at the same time thinking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?”
This question stirred in her a passion for evangelism. Rachel had a growing hunger to learn more, so she started attending a bible study taught by Asher Intrater in 1998. Walking to the weekly meetings she would ask people along the way if they wanted to ‘change their life.’ Everyone who answered, ‘yes,’ she would bring to the bible study.
After realizing her call and gifting in evangelism, she started inviting people to her home for Shabbat dinner. Rachel prepared the meal and Asher shared the gospel. Her home soon turned into a center where 50+ non-believers came to eat and hear the Gospel every Shabbat.
Her ministry quickly caught the attention of both the Muslim and the Orthodox Jewish communities. She became the target of persecution from religious extremists and was forced out of two different homes because they pressured her landlord not to rent to her. Finally, their ministry partners were able to purchase a house for her to continue the outreach events.
One day, after she shared about Yeshua with a family in the neighboring Muslim village, a violent mob retaliated by vandalizing her home and ruining significant parts of the property. The story was even featured on the front page of one of Israel’s largest newspapers. With coverage from newspapers and television stations, her testimony reached tens of thousands of people.
In response to this event, she was asked to do an open house in order to host people interested in hearing about her story. She was able to share with over 1,000 people, who came in groups of fifty throughout the day.
In 2012 she married Gilad, a believer from Austria, who also has a heart to share the good news with Israelis. Today their home is known as an open house in Israel to hear about Yeshua. They continue to hold dinners, festivals, and cultural events, where she shares her testimony and teaches on the Jewishness of Yeshua the Messiah. Guests come from all walks of life – secular, religious, soldiers and even tour-groups. Rachel is always ready to cook and share both hospitality and the gospel, no matter how many people show up. Both Jews and Arabs are often found sharing fellowship around her table, united by a hunger to hear the Truth.
Since 2005 Revive Israel has been providing spiritual covering, sending team members to serve alongside Rachel in her outreaches, covering her in prayer and financially supporting her work on a monthly basis. We also take time to minister to the believing and non-believing guests she brings to our ministry center on a regular basis.
Sharing the Good News in Israel can be a special challenge. Because of the repeated attempts throughout history to ‘convert’ Jews to Christianity at the expense of their heritage as Jews, and the threat of Islamic extremists, Israelis are understandably cautious and even outright fearful of the intentions of evangelists. Street evangelism can even sometimes provoke a violent response. Despite these challenges, the message of Messiah is going out and the people of Israel are hungry for truth.
We at Revive Israel believe that the kingdom of God is built through personal relationships. This takes place naturally through the daily interaction of believers with their peers in schools, work, market places, and neighborhoods. While sharing our faith is a lifestyle we seek to walk out as a team and as a community, we also have a few of our own evangelistic projects and outreaches.