The Heritage Centre
Beit Immanuel, represents
a movement dating back to the 1800's dedicated to Aliyah (return
of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel), and the restoration
and proclamation of the Messianic Jewish hope in Yeshua (Jesus.)
Following the outbreak of the French
Revolution many Christians in Britain, America, and Europe
sensed the time was approaching when Jesus the Messiah would
return. They understood from the Bible that the prior to His
second coming, Israel would return to her Land.
In the 1820's a British organization
associated with the Anglican Church (LJS, today CMJ) came to the
Land of Israel to proclaim this message and promote Aliyah. Most
of the early workers landed at Jaffa, and in 1844 opened a
centre in Jaffa's Old City.
Then in September 1866 a group of
American Christians belonging to "The Church of Messiah" arrived
to Jaffa. They came in hope of assisting the return of the
Jewish people to the Land and imminent return of the Messiah.
Most of the American group departed
during 1867-8. At the same period a German group known as the
Templers (Die Tempel Gemeinde) came to the Land of Israel and
took over many of the American buildings. They also established
colonies in Haifa and Jerusalem.
The Templers turned Beit Immanuel
into their national headquarters and a school, and also added
the two stone wings onto the original structure.
On the west side is the Jerusalem
Hotel. Just beyond it is one of the wooden American houses that
was purchased in 1867 by the LJS and became the centre of their
activities in the city.
In 1878 the Russian born Baron Plato
Von Ustinov (who had become a Bible believing Protestant
Christian) purchased Beit Immanuel. Baron Ustinov built a third
floor and carried out other major renovations dedicated to
harmonizing the various architectural designs of the building.
He turned it into no less than a Russian palace.
In 1882 hundreds of destitute Jewish
refugees from Russia landed at Jaffa. Many of these were
assisted by Moritz Hall, a Jewish believer in Jesus, at the LJS
building, and by Baron Ustinov in his hospital.
In 1888 Ustinov married Magdalena,
the daughter of Hall. Magdalena was born in Ethiopia and
together they had four children, their eldest son Joah being the
father of actor Peter Ustinov.
The Baron's palace not only became
the focal point of the German colony, but indeed the city of
Jaffa. He established exotic gardens under the supervision of
the first graduate of Mikve Israel, the original school of
agriculture in modern Israel. Several of the plants and trees
you in our garden today are part of these famous gardens. People
came from far and wide to visit on Shabbat and holidays. One
such visitor was Baron Rothschild, who so liked what he saw that
he 'took' Ustinov's gardener.
Between 1895 and 1914 part of this
building became the Hotel du Parc operated by the brothers
Ustinov's second wife. During this time, on 27 October 1898, the
German Emperor Kaiser Wilheim II stayed here while on his visit
The Ustinovs left in 1913. Later the
building became known as the Park Hotel, and remained so until
taken over by CMJ in 1926. CMJ turned the building into the
English High School for girls. Up to 240 Jewish, Moslem and
Christian girls studied here.
During the British Mandate the
property was temporarily taken over by the British Army and the
Palestine Police. Meanwhile during World War Two, CMJ used the
German Church opposite for services. A number of the Templers
living in Jaffa were Nazi sympathizers and were deported by the
British to Australia.
During the fight for Israeli
statehood this area was often in the firing line, and the school
was relocated in 1947. After May 1948 and the British
withdrawal, the Israeli Army took over Beit Immanuel,
strategically located on a hill between the Arab and Jewish
In 1954 the Israeli Army returned
the building to CMJ. Changes were later made, with the Anglican
congregation moving out. In the 1970's a Hebrew speaking
congregation of Messianic Jews and Arabs began meeting and
worshipping at the site. Later other congregations began
worshipping here as well.