State of the Family Report:
Five Years and Counting
January 24, 2021
It’s been so quiet you could hear a pin drop! Yes, we have been quiet, and you might be wondering what is going on with B’ney Yosef North America (BYNA) since you haven’t heard anything for a while. We could blame the virus that impacted the world in 2020 (and yes, whatever you may think of the Corona virus, it has changed the shape of our world), but in all honesty, we have been working behind the scenes as the months have marched by. So, what has BYNA been doing?
The year began with great expectations as we launched two events: the inaugural Family Gathering in Mesa, Arizona, and the inaugural Family Reunion in Ridgeville, South Carolina. The Mesa event in January was the premier of our long-awaited regional conferences, and the Ridgeville event in February was the restart of the National Shabbat initiative that had inspired BYNA’s beginning. We had great hopes of continuing with regional conferences and Family Reunions, but that pesky virus situation but a hold on all in-person gatherings. We are considering alternatives, such as a virtual Family Gathering, but as we have all learned, virtual hugs aren’t quite as meaningful as the “real deal.” So, continue to wait eagerly for the time when we can be together in person.
Another major event that we sorely missed was our annual BYNA Leadership Gathering. This yearly meeting of our Elders and Administrative Council has helped us renew and strengthen our personal relationships as we prayerfully establish our priorities and direction for the coming year. Our planned meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, had to be transformed into a series of virtual meetings spread out over a week. While we did accomplish much, we missed the fellowship of being together.
So, what have we accomplished? Well, we brought on new leaders. Bob Wern joined the Admin Council as our Communications Director. Bob reworked our website and initiated ongoing improvements to our communications enterprise before stepping back to function in an advisory role on technical matters. That means we’re beginning the search for a new Communications Director, and in the meantime have a highly talented team running the show.
Our Elders have also moved through some changes, beginning with the addition of Dan and Kathy Collier to the council in January. As the new Hebrew year rolled around in the spring, John Conrad completed his two-year rotation as Chief Elder, and Ed Boring moved up to take the spot. The Elders have grown much in their roles as BYNA’s senior leaders, and as a body are providing the wise direction we sorely need.
Even though we have not been able to hold in-person meetings, we have continued to cultivate relationships across the spectrum of our covenant family. That includes a presence at major events such as Revive, where Al McCarn and David Altman represented BYNA in this annual conference sponsored by Hebraic Roots Network. It was there that we presented the first of two awards of the Frank Houtz Memorial Scholarship. Frank’s daughter, Eleeyah Houtz Difranco, received a scholarship to assist in her field of interior design. The second award was presented in December to a promising young violinist: Clair Gonzalez of Founded in Truth Fellowship in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Houtz Scholarship application window is now open for the Fall 2021 award! To learn more, please visit:
Throughout 2020 we continued to produce new editions of our weekly podcast, Reunion Roadmap, which is now in its fourth year. New shows air on Saturday and Sunday evenings on Hebraic Heritage Radio (http://www.hebrootsradio.com/), and each podcast is available on the BYNA website at:
Reunion Roadmap is where you get to learn more about BYNA as our Elders share their observations from scripture. You will also meet people from many different streams who share the same hope of our Messiah’s coming Kingdom, and are laboring in different ways to see His promises fulfilled.
Even as we have continued to move forward as we are able, we have paused this year to honor those of our family who have departed this life. Over the summer, we said farewell to two pioneers in the Torah Awakening: Brad Scott and Angus Wootten. In the fall, we were saddened at the loss of Tova Gilboa, one of our friends from the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Arial, Israel. BYNA was able to honor the memory of each of these beloved friends in ways intended to honor the works they held dear, such as Growing in Torah (https://growingintorah.com/), an outreach that benefitted much from Brad’s wisdom and participation, and the Biblical Garden at the Eshel Hashomron (https://eshelhashomron.co.il/en/the-biblical-park/). We were also able to republish a number of articles Angus authored over the years, some of which he co-wrote with his wife and col-laborer Batya. Each of those articles is now available on the BYNA website at https://bneyyosefna.com//category/articles/.
Although we have been “quiet” in 2020, Abba continues to lead and direct us as we prayerfully consider how to live out His mission for us in this ever-changing world. He has opened opportunities for us to partner with the Nations’ 9th of Av (https://9-av.com/) in an educational outreach of reconciliation seeking to transform the future of Christian-Jewish relations. We have also entered into several forums with Hebrew Roots leaders across North America who, like us, are seeking to bring together our scattered family and take steps forward together.
So, you can see that even though we have been silent, we are still about our Father’s work. We covet your prayers in the day ahead with so much uncertainty in the air. A critical way you can help is to join our prayer team, but there are other needs as well. If you would like to help, or if you have ideas to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, if you would like to partner with us financially to meet our modest operating expenses, or to help with the Houtz Scholarship and with our Israel-focused projects, we are able to receive donations online through our Donations Page. We can also receive checks mailed to:
B’ney Yosef North America
PO Box 1068
Centralia, WA 98531
Thank you for your interest, your prayers, and your participation with us in this Kingdom process of Ephraim’s restoration and reconciliation with Judah!