About us

As former backpackers we understand the traveling lifestyle. In the Shelter we aim to create a community where people from every background, religion, country, and language feel welcome and accepted.


About us

In the beginning
     John and Judy Pex, from Holland and the United States, opened the Shelter Hostel in 1984 after having both traveled extensively. John sailed around the world in the Dutch Merchant Marine before picking up his backpack and embracing the hippie lifestyle. Judy lived three years in Alaska in an Eskimo village before taking off on a solo hitchhiking trip through Europe. Both had the goal to reach India where they hoped to find answers to their spiritual search.
     Eventually their journeys led them to Israel where both fell in love with the land and culture and began reading the Bible. To their great surprise, Judy being from a Jewish background and John Catholic, they started to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that He is the “way, the truth and the life.” At this point they met, and when they married a year later in the United States, they knew they would be coming back to Israel and Eilat.

The Shelter story
    After immigrating to Israel in 1975, John and Judy lived on and off for several years in a tent in an oasis in the Sinai desert with their first child. Later John had a job in agriculture and they began inviting people to stay with them in their apartment. When it became too small for their family of four and their guests, they moved to a larger house. However, with their friends, friends of friends, and others sleeping on the porch, in the garden, and on the sofa, they began looking for a hostel, and so the Shelter was born.

owners shelter hostel eilat

Our vision

As former backpackers we understand the traveling lifestyle. In the Shelter we aim to create a community where people from every background, religion, country, and language feel welcome and accepted. We want to share our lives with all who come through our gate as we meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Books for further information

Judy has written four books

Walk the Land

A Journey on Foot through Israel

is a travel memoir about John and Judy’s trek along the 1000 km Israel Trail, from Eilat to Mt. Hermon. By walking the Trail with them, the reader will receive an insider’s view of the land and insight into Jewish culture and history, as well as botany, animal lore, geography, politics, and the Hebrew language. Not only for hikers, Walk the Land  is an encouragement for anyone setting out on a new path or dreaming a dream.
Available in English, Dutch, German, and Hebrew. 

Buy it now

A People Tall and Smooth

Stories of Escape from Sudan to Israel 

contains the moving stories of five refugees who arrived in Eilat in 2007, their place in Israel today, and background material about the conflict. The Shelter Hostel was and still is a refuge and center for this population, and the challenges they faced and lessons learned are especially applicable to the European migrant crisis.

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Come, Stay, Celebrate: 

The Story of the Shelter Hostel in Eilat, Israel  

begins with John and Judy’s journeys to faith, their meeting and later immigration to Israel, life in a tent in the Sinai, and establishing the hostel. The book, using touching and humorous personal stories, doesn’t hesitate to include the lows and disappointments together with the highs and victories. The reader will find himself challenged, encouraged, and entertained as he discovers how God uses ordinary people to participate in His extraordinary work.

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To Belong:

A Novel

To Belong – A Novel  is a contemporary story of hope and compassion set in Eilat and tells the story of Tamar who is fiercely loyal to family, friends, and faith. When she finds herself fostering two Sudanese refugee children, she faces opposition from the authorities, her family, and begins wondering herself what is best for them. The reader is introduced to a cross-section of Israeli society with all seeking an identity, to know “who they are.”

Buy it now

Home away from home

The Shelter Hostel

The Eshel Street 149/1. P.O. Box 816
Eilat 88104, Israel.

972-(0)8-633 2868