About Judy

Judy PexI was born in Washington, D.C. but have been living in Israel since 1976. My journey here was a circuitous one, including three years living in an Eskimo village in Alaska and a year hitchhiking through Europe. I didn’t plan on staying when I arrived here, but my life was changed when I picked up a Bible thinking that by reading it I could learn about Israel’s history.

I was living at the time in an oasis in the Sinai with no one to explain or teach me, and was immediately captivated by the truths I was reading – different from any other book I had encountered. Having been raised Jewish, I never imagined I would believe in Yeshua (Jesus) but I couldn’t deny the prophecies I read in the Tenach (Old Testament) as well as the words in the gospels.

A few months later I met my husband John, from Holland, who had a similar experience when he came to Israel. We were married in the U.S. and after a year returned to Israel as new immigrants to live in Eilat on the Red Sea.

In 1984 we began the Shelter Hostel, a guest house for people from all over the world and a drop-in center. We have been privileged through the years to meet thousands of people and to be able to help meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

After managing the Shelter Hostel in Eilat for 20 years, we felt we needed a break – from people, phones, and all the stresses of our busy life. A chance encounter with a young couple in a remote desert oasis evoked in us the vision to hike the Israel Trail, a marked path of 950 kilometers. Walking 20 or more kilometers a day sounded like the perfect way to rest. Thus in 2005 we took a two month break which became a pivotal experience in our lives and led to me writing my first book, “Walk the Land – A Journey on Foot through Israel.”

Besides the usual visitors, our work in the Shelter has tended through the years to focus on different people groups who have come through Eilat. In the beginning we dealt largely with hippies and backpackers. In the early 1990’s Israel was flooded by immigrants from the former Soviet Union and for many, the Shelter was their first stop. They were followed by construction workers brought in from Romania and the Republic of China to build houses for the Russians and we found both groups thankful to find a place and people who welcomed them.

In the spring of 2007 Sudanese refugees who had fled their civil war and jumped over the border between Egypt and Israel appeared on the streets of Eilat. Our involvement with them led to my second book, “A People Tall and Smooth – Stories of Escape from Sudan to Israel.”

In 2004 at the urging of friends and former Shelter volunteers, I decided to undertake a book about the hostel. I thought,outlined, collected stories, and began to write, but then we took off on the Israel Trail. The Shelter book was put aside as I wrote the other two books, but it wasn’t forgotten. I began again in 2012 and Come, Stay, Celebrate: The Story of the Shelter Hostel in Eilat, Israel was published in 2014.

We have four children and are the happy grandparents of seven.

In my free time I like to hike and camp in the mountains around Eilat, snorkel in the Red Sea, travel, read, and spend time with family and friends.

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