Little Brother Yaacov spent 45 years as a discreet witness to the Gospel in Israel and he died at the age of 95 on October 22, 2014. We quote here from the words of Little Brother Yohanan at the funeral that took place in Jerusalem on October 23, 2014.


Many of you saw him in the past months when he came to mass on Sundays, leaning on his cane, quiet and wordless.

He died yesterday at 6 in the morning, after some weeks of physical deterioration.

Our brother David took care of him devotedly all the time in the last days and nights.

Slowly, he no longer understood, or heard, and two days ago he could no longer even swallow a bit of water.

Who was Yaacov? We, the Little Brothers of Jesus, are a small congregation of 200 brothers in the world. Yaacov was the oldest and the most veteran. He joined the fraternity in 1942, 9 years after it had been founded. He stayed in the Sahara for some years, living a life of prayer and work.

He was among the first of the brothers who agreed to work as laborers in France – worker monks. That was a novelty in the Church in 1948.

When they thought also of Africa, about Cameroun, they chose north Cameroun, a very primitive area, as opposed to the south which was about to gain independence. The head of the congregation sent Yaacov to begin with a primitive tribe, completely naked, which had never seen a White man up close. With another brother and some Little Sisters they opened a clinic and started to work in the fields with the people who received them well. Yaacov started to deceipher their language, beginning from zero. After ten years, Yaacov was forced to leave them. After many years, the tribe became Christian and one day a priest was ordained from the tribe and later the first native became a bishop.

Yaacov returned to France. There, soon afterwards, they asked him to replace temporarily a sick brother in a leper colony in Iran. Yaacov stayed there for two years and learnt a little bit of Persian. The sick brother got well again and returned and so Yaacov returned to France. Then he was sent to the middle of the Sahara to live among the Tuareg people. There he studied the Berber language for two years.

When he returned to France, he met me – I was there in a hermitage for a year of renewal and prayer. He said to me that he had had enough of changing country and language every two years. “I want to finish my days in the Holy Land, will you accept me?”

Of course I accepted him with joy. We met up in Afula (in northern Israel) where we began a small fraternity in 1969. He lived there more than 40 years, learnt Hebrew, worked in a factory where they produced socks. A few years later he worked in a factory that packaged flowers for export overseas. When he reached retirement age, he volunteered and worked with handicapped youth. At the age of 90, he had a fall and we brought him to us in Jerusalem. He was with us in his last years, as he grew weaker and weaker. He could not stand on his feet. In the last weeks, he was indifferent, eating and drinking almost nothing. Then he simply left us, in the dark.

I know that he is now happy to be with our heavenly Father and all those in His kingdom. In the past, every time he heard of a brother who had died,. He would say: “What a lucky guy”.

I forgot to mention that in some places in the world, Yaacov built hermitages. Among these is the beautiful one he built on the Mount of the Beatitudes, north of the Sea of Galilee. He loved to spend weekends there in prayer.

I am sure that there above they received him joyfully with prepared a beautiful home for him but not to play the hermit there but to be in the joy of all God’s children – what a lucky guy!