It was Ben Ammi’s vision in 1966 that led to the exodus of nearly 400 souls the following year to Liberia, West Africa, where we would spend a two-and-one-half year “wilderness” period – shedding the many detrimental habits that as an enslaved people, we had acquired. In 1969, we would continue our sojourn, making aliyah to Israel, where we would arrive to a short-lived welcome. For over two decades, we endured the lack of status, work permits, access to schooling, health care and the like and even the belligerency of various personalities and institutions which would severely test our resolve. Moves toward a reconciliation in 1990 have led to our current place as a permanent fixture in Israeli landscape, and from that time we made great strides in education, organic agriculture, vegan food production and more.
Ben Ammi’s immense love for the Land of Israel remained constant throughout his life – from his initial awakening to his Hebraic roots, through the controversial and sometimes contentious early days in Israel and subsequently the reconciliation which led to the current unity of purpose which we now enjoy. “The insight, commitment, patience and compassion he demonstrated was instrumental in leading us to forge a social model for humanity in which Yah might be pleased,” said Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda, a member of the Holy Council.
Ben Ammi’s profound intellect and leadership, expressed over the years in his writings and public speaking around the world, inspired the growth of the community. Today community members reside in several cities across Israel, with branches throughout the U.S., the Caribbean, Africa (including Ghana, Kenya and South Africa), and the U.K. In addition, countless adherents to the lifestyle and philosophies of the community – who may not be on the roster as members – seek advice and direction from our community’s institutions through social media.
Under Ben Ammi’s leadership, the Hebrew Israelites have become renowned for their vibrant culture and boundless creativity. The holistic lifestyle of the community, coupled with high moral standards, was forged in keeping with our aim to fulfill the prophetic mandate of the Israelites to be “a light unto the nations”. Indeed, many of the ideas and standards which Ben Ammi introduced to the community and were thought to be unusual at the time – including veganism, weekly fasting and the limiting of salt and sugar consumption – are now recognized as genius and have been implemented globally.
The community he founded has gained such popularity that an average of 500 visitors come to tour weekly the Village of Peace in Dimona, including political leaders from Israel, the U.S. and Africa. Other notables and celebrities drawn to Dimona include entertainers like Stevie Wonder, Kim Weston, the Neville Brothers, Ray Charles, Barry White and of course, Whitney Houston, who adopted Ben Ammi as her spiritual father.
In 1994, the US Congress Human Rights Caucus proclaimed the Dimona community “The Miracle in the Desert” for its innovative and forward thinking structure and environment. In a 1994 feature article published in Teva Hadvareem, the community was feted as “An Island of Sanity,” The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2006 termed the accomplishments of the community a “phenomenon in a land full of phenomena”. Ben Ammi guided the Hebrew Israelites through this most difficult period with untold perseverance and determination, resulting in the community earning permanent residency in 2003, with the granting of citizenship in a process that continues today. He was able to transcend the often contentious political and religious boundaries of Israeli that often confound the local scene by forging relationships based on integrity. In 2006, the community officially registered as an urban kibbutz, taking the name, “Guardians of Peace” (Shomrey HaShalom).
Representatives of the community can be found throughout the world serving in projects which Ben Ammi called “redemptive enterprises” – activities specifically designed to enhance the quality of life and living for any participants. These accomplishments made Ben Ammi the father of the “Dimona Model,” a systematic approach to healthy living that was implemented in conjunction with the Ministry of Health in Ghana, West Africa, in the Regenerative Health and Nutrition Project.
Immediate family members – along with all of the faithful near and far – express their heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the outpouring of concern, prayers and thoughts during this time. “While obviously deeply saddened at the loss of our Holy Father’s physical presence,” said Ahmadiel Ben Yehuda, a spokesman, “we are nevertheless emboldened in knowing that his spirit truly lives in each and every one of us. We are also cognizant of the fact that – with tens of thousands of people near and far who drew inspiration from his words, message and example – we are greatly blessed in having had the opportunity to serve with him over the five decades of his selfless leadership. As such, we are as focused and determined as ever to continue to fulfill, maintain and further his vision for all humanity and the Creation. His example and focused commitment to Yah and His people will be an eternal flame in our hearts and a guiding light on our path.”
For more information contact: Yafah Baht Gavriel at 972 (0)523 910 858.