Who are we?
Baruch haba … be welcome ...
We are a flemish family that left our home following our call. We are Jehoshu'a (Filip), Rivkah (Katrijn) and Joke (18 year), Jonas (17 year) and Joram (11 jaar). In 2015 we sold our house in Flanders (Belgium) and we moved to a marvelous place in the middle of Portugal. Since our move, a couple of years ago, we've been working very hard in our new house, because we want a place where we can work out our project (known as 'HOP'). And we were busy to prepare ourselves as well. We are ready to take the next step now and part of it is the development of this website.
Below you can read seven important elements on which our life and our project HOP is build:
We aren't Christians. We don't belong to the messianic movement. The G-d of Israel is our G-d and we understand our connection with Him from a Jewish traditional position because the G-d of Israel Himself made a covenant with Am Israel (the People of Israel) on Mount Sinai. Our communal life thus is determined by a lifestyle founded on Torah1 and kindness. Our daily life is impregnated by d’veykut (cleaving to the Almighty). Our spirituality is chasidic and we feel familiar here with the Breslev movement. In all this we share the vision of ‘the captive child’. Through these words we express our particular and deep concern for everyone seeking to relate with the Holy One of Israel - blessed be He - but up till now not knowing very well how to do this and here we have a heart especially for those people coming from the nations. If you would like to know more about this vision, please ask Jehoshu’a.
Community stands central in our HOP-mission. We want to share our lives with other people and because of that we hold on a certain kind of order. We thus are living on certain times of communal prayer for example. By sharing a communal life we want to offer some comfort for a life build on the Hebrew Scripture2. Together with this comfort goes a kind of safety, and even so the support we all need on different levels. Of course we know our challenges as well; often they are huge. Sharing our lives one with another even has its particular challenges. But we are convinced that when we are unified in our same vision and way of life, these challenges usually reveal to be a path for holiness and after some time we grow better through them in our relating one with another but also in our connectivity with G-d. It is our wish that this unity among us may grow so that we ultimately will be able to share our own material belongings freely one with another. The name of the community is HOP-Captive Children.
Permaculture and Nature
Our permaculture garden, but even so our nature in general, are very important elements in our communal life. We try to practice permaculture principles within the borders of torah (hop-permaculture). Through them we learn how to deal with our possessions and how to enjoy them in a very practical way. We do this in a way so that everyone may profit from the gain. We thus learn about our food production from its first beginnings up till the end, with all that may be involved here as preparing the land, making it ready and keeping it so, planting, sowing, harvesting. We can use the products of the land even for our heating as we plant trees, chop them and get wood for the fire. Furthermore we can utilize our agrarian way of life for clothing : we tend sheep, we shear the wool, spinning and colouring it. We have our own medicinal plants that we can use; we can develop our own pottery etc.. We thus may be able to develop a life that is self sustaining as possible as it can be and we only like it to grow in that way, dependent on the capacity and number of residents we have. We have a vegetable garden, multiple fruit trees and some small live stock. This kind of life generates a training in humility for its practitioners and we learn how to cope with authority and rules. Through all this we learn to appreciate and acknowledge everyone among us. Our devise could be: he that wants to be the first of us, has to serve the others. We further on learn how to live a disciplined life and to forsake all kinds of laziness: there is a lot of hard work waiting for us and all the aspects of our communal life guard us in a practical and sober life, also in living our faith and our relating one with another.
With the aspect of the garden comes the element of food. Except for the holidays, we limit ourselves to our own production. We produce healthy natural products up to biblical standards. Though demanding it may be this involves a production process that will not be manipulated the way modern industry influences it: we don’t use pesticides nor commercial fertilizers nor biologically protective products. Our vision here is akin to that of permaculture. We cultivate what is fitting within the agrarian limits of our quinta. We fertilize with the manure of our animals (pony, donkey, goats, sheep, poultry) and we compost the permanently covered soil (through the compost of our garden, branches and plant remnants). The element of food of course involves our attitude towards it. You may not see the candy you can buy in the shops everywhere but you will be able to taste dried fruit, figs, blackberries, grapes, tomatoes etc.. The bible says a righteous person eats to satisfy his soul (Mishlei/Proverbs 13:25) and this is the vision we like to propagate through our agrarian lifestyle as much as we can.
As already said we see a self sustaining life as central: this is a kind of life that is plain but very rewarding and healthy, emphasizing our dependence on the Creator. It is that kind of life guarding us against many polluting factors we experience in the outside world (in the spiritual and in the physical meaning of the word). We learn to be happy if we are content with what we have. Yes, we need material things that help us with living but even so we fight materialism so that we can invest time for rewarding relationships one with another and with our Creator. In a very practical way and as much as we can we try to avoid anything that is linked to industry, polluting transport and an unethical manner of production. The more our community grows, the more our life can grow plain.
An engine just functions well if it gets the right kind of fuel. So our body does, when getting the right kind of food. But even more important are our souls. If the soul of man doesn’t get the appropriate spiritual food, it will starve, or worse – G-d forbid. Educating ourselves from reliable sources thus becomes primary. This is not only for us, adults, but also for our children. We see that governmental supported educational systems serve a different purpose. We prefer an education preparing our children for a practical life in d’veykut (cleaving to G-d).
Residents may grow in their knowledge through practice, studying Torah and Jewish books3. But this knowledge can further on be completed with literature about Hop-captive Children related content like health issues, food items, books and articles about a self sustaining life etc.
Hospitality is a biblical concept and we are present for everyone. We like our guests to enjoy the place and land where we also are visitors. Peace between visitors of all convictions and visions is very important for us; so we made up a document (house rules) that should be of some help here. Because of our connection with traditional Judaism, we have a special link with these people yearning for a deepening relationship with our Father, our King, the Holy One of Israel, blessed be He, on the foundation of Torah within Jewish tradition. Many are reaching out for this kind of foundation these days but even so many don’t know very well how to start or to live such a kind of life ..In particular for these people our doors stay open, as we like to be an open house for them, a meeting place while at the same time respecting their individual quest.
We thus may offer classes or further information to our visitors, if asked for, so that they may get help. But even so visitors remain free for other activities as we never will push anyone. Sometimes a simple talk already is all what one needs ..
We hope you can remember your visit as a rewarding and enriching experience. Back home we hope you find in your suitcase besides the dirty laundry also knowledge, quietness, energy and enthusiasm to cope with the challenges in life. May G-d bless you.
1.Torah : Written Torah (Tenach) and Oral Torah (Mishnah)
2 one can for example more easily grow in a life that is in full accord with all the commandments we read in the Holy Torah
3. The books and the teaching of Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum are an essential start here.