“I hung out with the Yellow Deli People”: One woman’s story

The July 18th 2010 TAT story from Ben and Elizabeth about the Yellow Deli People sounded eerily familiar. I knew the name of the group before it was ever mentioned in the article: The Twelve Tribes Commonwealth of Israel. Three summers ago, I stayed with the same group for a few days in Rutland, Vermont while in the process of completing a 5-month Appalachian Trail thru-hike.  They run an adorable hostel upstairs from their business, The Back Home Again Café and Juice Bar, and offer a “work for stay” option. This means that for perhaps 1-2 hours of work (washing dishes, sweeping, peeling potatoes, whatever), we are able to have a roof over our heads and eat well without paying a dime. These deals are highly attractive to the thru-hiking community, who would do just about anything for the promise of a hot meal, a shower, and a real mattress.

From http://www.backhomeagaincafe.com

The weather during the first half of Vermont had oscillated between cold drizzle and oppressive heat, and after one of our more interesting hitchhiking experiences, my hiking partner and I arrived at the café exhausted and hungry. Upon entering, we were struck by the atmosphere of the place: intricate, hand-carved wooden beams, exposed brick, cozy lighting and with hanging plants everywhere…definitely an other-worldly Middle Earth sort of vibe, with the elfin community members happily running around with serving trays. We were greeted with warm smiles, and promptly led toward the showers (stocked with intoxicating homemade lavender and tea tree soap). The men and women were conservatively dressed, and I immediately felt self-conscious in my clingy, sweaty tank top. I knew we must’ve reeked, and yet they invited us to join their family for dinner. They were amazingly nice people, but I’ll admit I was a little unnerved by their serenity. What is their deal?

From http://www.backhomeagaincafe.com

There was a variety of reading material in the bunkrooms for our perusal: things about the homemade soap, menu choices for the café below, and…what’s this?…pamphlets about following Yahshua with all of one’s being? Ah, the light bulb went off in my head. The Twelve Tribes Community, it seems, is a branch of fundamental Christianity trying to return to as close to a traditional Jewish lifestyle as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, communal living, strict gender roles, homeschooling and labor for the children, shared finances and possessions, Hebrew names given for all community members, and universal hairstyles and clothing. After a few hours of working side-by-side, we were on a first name basis with several of the community members and our interactions felt comfortable enough to ask them some questions about their path: why the traditional, regimented dress code? Why did you join the group and how does your family feel about this? They responded patiently and smiling sweetly. They seemed acutely aware of cult-like perceptions outsiders have of the group. Whatever their reasons, they seemed really happy. I know I couldn’t handle it, but to each their own, I guess.

From http://www.backhomeagaincafe.com

Travelers take note, the people here are interesting, welcoming, and open to questions, and the food is delicious and wholesome. We were told that we should look up other community locations if we were ever in need of a place to stay. Just be prepared to volunteer in the kitchen (or wherever they need help), in addition to experiencing the magnetic pull of that peace-and-love feeling…which may creep you out a bit upon escaping the place.

By: Maribeth Latvis

4 thoughts on ““I hung out with the Yellow Deli People”: One woman’s story

  1. How specific are they about the identity of the 12 tribes? Did they tell you where they are today? How were they disposed to the royal Jewish tribe of Judah? And did they have a solution for resolving the blood feud between the two houses of Israel and healing the Breach of Jeroboam?

  2. i lived with the twelve tribe back when they were the Vine House people never once did have to sneak out when I was ready to leave I just packed up and lift. They knew I was leaving no one tried to stop me. I lift because I was not old enough to be there. If I every feel lead to go back I will. I still go to the Friday night meetings I don’t understand all of there ways9 I want say I don’t believe I will just say I don’t understand it all) they are very warm people and love the live they live. I am happy they are back in Chattanooga. If people would just stop trying be the only ones right the only way and learn from each other we would all be better people. I get so tried of hearing church people put each other down. We don’t have to always agree with each other in what we believe and don’t believe and trust each other and love each other except we are all different it is okay not to be a like but to love each other as we love Jesus. Stop trying to be perfect and learn to love in a perfect way. I get tried of people putting down the 12 tribe because they are different you don’t have to live with them but Jesus does want us to love each and get along. WE NEED TO SEE EACH OTHER AS THE FATHER SEE’S US LET OUR EYES BE HIS EYES OUR HANDS BE HIS HANDS OUR FEET GO WHERE LEADS YOU.YOUR EARS BE HIS EARS. STOP TRYING TO BE THE RIGHT ONE ALL THE TIME AND AGREE TO BE ONE IN LOVE ALL CHURCH’S NO MATTER WHAT THE NAME OF YOUR CHURCH IS JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY NOT YUR RELIGION. THAT IS A MAN MADE THING ANYWAY. I LOVE ALL OF YU AND I PRAY THAT YOU ALL WILL LEARN TO LOVE EACH OTHER HAS PAUL WORTE IN HIS BOOK .LOVE IS THE GREAST GIFT TO LOVE WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART NOT JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE BELONGS TO YOUR CHURCH BUT WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART ALL MAN KIND THAT TRY TO LIVE A CLEAN HONEST LIFE.

  3. I lived there for 21 years. To get a well rounded understanding it is good to talk with the current members and former ones. You can find more info on the internet, even though you have to filter through it, please do your research.

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