Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Love Israel

August 13-15, 1973, CBS News, Deprogramming: the clash between religion and civil rights, Archive,
April 2, 1979, People Magazine, Steve Allen's Son Brian Saw God on An Acid Trip: It Turned Him into Logic Israel, by Cheryl McCall, Blog,
March 1982, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults, by Steve Allen, 241 pages,December 1, 1982, Seattle Weekly, Cover Story, by Roger Downey,
October 3, 1983, The Seattle Times, page C3, Authority, Lifestyles Disputes Wrake 'Family',October 3, 1983, The Seattle Times, page C3, Family Fight Blows Apart Love Israel Commune,
November 27, 1983, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page F7, Love Was their Answer,
January 26, 1984, SeattlePost-Intelligencer, page D-1, Love Family Slips toward Oblivion, by John McCoy,
January 27, 1984, The Seattle Times. pate B-1, Love Israel Lawsuit Settled Out of Court, by Carol Ostrom,
January 27, 1984, SeattlePost-Intelligencer, page C-1, Love Family and Benefactor Settle, by John McCoy,
February 1, 1984, Queen Anne News, page 14, Financial Base of Love Family Eroded,
September 10, 1984, The Seattle Times, Love Israel Postpones Move into Angered Idaho Community,
September 25, 1986, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, An Ex-family Member Has No Love for Love,
January 25, 1990, seattletimes.com, Love Family Hoping For Zoning Reversal, by Linda Shaw,
December 5, 1990, seattletimes.com, Love Israel Family Can Keep Land - For Now, by Linda Shaw,
January 24, 1991, seattletimes.com, Judge Bars Israel Family Suit Against Ex-Member, by Linda Shaw,
March 9, 1991, seattletimes.com, Love Israel Grows Up -- Coming Of Age -- Change Has Come Slowly But Significantly To Controversial, by Linda Shaw,
August 28, 1991, seattletimes.com, Survey Leaves Landowners Near Arlington In Legal Limbo, by Jerry Bergsman,
September 30, 1993, seattletimes.com, Commune Homes Going Condo --Love Israel Group's Site Redeveloped, by Sherry Stripling,
May 24, 1995, seattletimes.com, Commune On List For Flexible Zoning, by Diane Brooks,
March 11, 1997, The Seattle Times, Twist In State Law May Aid Group's Dreams For Future -- Love Israel Commune Plans 'Urban Village' On Banks Of Stillaguamish, by Stephen Clutter,
March 17, 1997, seattletimes.com, Letters, Love Israel Family Village -- Times' Story Perpetuated 13-Year-Old Rumors,
May 1, 1997, seattletimes.com, Who's A Father? What's A Family? -- Suit Against Love Israel May Break New Legal Ground, by Stephen Clutter,
August 7, 1997, seattletimes.com, A Weekend Of Flavor To Savor -- Edmonds, Arlington Events Promise Taste Of Fun In Summer Sun, by Rebekah Denn,
January 21, 1998, seattletimes.com - AP, Arlington Chiropractor Mistakenly Listed As Defaulting On Student Loans,
April 3, 1999, seattletimes.com, A Reboot Into Eternity: The Righteous Path To Gates' Heaven,
August 9, 1998, seattletimes.com, Fire Damages 5 Cars At Festival,
November 18 1998, The Falcon, Volume 83, Issue 53, [Seattle Pacific University] Isreal commune lives in 'oneness', Students explain history of group centered on family, Blog,
October 31, 2000, seattletimes.com, Multitalented TV pioneer Steve Allen is dead at 78,August 1, 2002, seattletimes.com, Love Israel family seeks county permit for summer festival, by Tina Potterf,
August 10, 2000, seattletimes.com, Here & Now,
July 4, 2002, Seattle Post-Intelligencer - AP, Love Israel hopes auction lures a buyer for its ranch, Archive,
July 7, 2002, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Love Israel family's land on market, by Mike Roarke, Archive,
July 18, 2002, Daily Journal of Commerce Oregon, Commune Looking To Sell Ranch; Love Israel commune looking to sell ranch, Blog,
August 4, 2002, seattletimes.com - AP, Auction brings riches to Love Israel,August 26, 2002, seattletimes.com, Love family fest no party for neighbors, by Tina Potterf, Seattle Times Snohomish County reporter,
January 5, 2003, seattletimes.com, Logging results in lawsuit against Love Israel family,
February 28, 2003, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Bankruptcy may be Love Israel family's salvation, by Jennifer Langstron, Archive,
March 3, 2003, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Faith and community bind the Love Israel family, by Meryl Schenker, Archive,
March 3, 2003, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Photo Essay, For the Love of Family, by Meryl Schenker,
March 4, 2003, seattletimes.com, Love Israel family's land may pull it out of bankruptcy, by Peyton Whitely,
June 22, 2003 [1st web capture] Steven Alan Hassan's Freedom of Mind Center, Love Israel, Blog,
July 13, 2003, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Love Israel familiy's summer gathering celebrates garlic, by Jennifer Langstron, Archive,August 5, 2003, seattletimes.com, Group hopes garlic fest holds seeds of survival,
December 4, 2003, seattletimes.com, Judge may force Love Israel clan to sell off land,
December 12, 2003, seattletimes.com, Sale of 300-acre Love Israel family spread OK'd,
December 12, 2003, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Israel family rift is potential deal breaker in ranch sale, by Jennifer Langstron, http://archive.is/X7xP4,
December 19, 2003, seattletimes.com, Bankruptcy court approves sale of Love Israel property,
December 22, 2003, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Sale of Love Israel's family ranch is complete, Archive,
December 25, 2003, New York Times, Commune to Close, After Years of Strife and Striving, by Sarah Kershaw, Blog,
February 6, 2004, The Telegraph, Bulldozers end the hippy dream by rooting out flower children, by Oliver Poole in Arlington, Blog,
March 2, 2004, seattletimes.com, Couple to restore former bank,March 9, 2004, seattletimes.com, Quirky array up for sale by Love Israel clan, by Diane Brooks,
March 13, 2004, seattletimes.com, Commune holds 2-day yard sale: Love Israel family prepares to move,
April 18, 2004, seattletimes.com, Controversial, colorful Israel family moves to more open spaces,
April 18, 2004, seattletimes.com, Chapter closes with clan's move,
October 18, 2005, seattletimes.com, Museum exhibit takes look back at tomorrow, by Diane Wright,
December 27, 2005, seattletimes.com, From commune to camp, by Diane Brooks,
July 4, 2007, seattletimes.com, Water district gets council OK,
August 2, 2008, Herald.net, Teens spend summer in Love family's footsteps at Camp Kalsman near Arlington,
January 1, 2009, University of Washington Press, The Love Israel Family - Urban Commune, Rural Commune, by Charles P. LeWarne, 312 pages, Archive,
January 31, 2009, seattletimes.com, Seattle tribute band's ultimate tribute: re-creating Beatles on the roof,
May 19 2009, Seattle Weekly, SIFF, Children of the Revolation; Two New Docs, Wrestle With the Old Hippie Idealism, by Brian Miller,
May 26, 2009, IMDB, Documentary, 90 min., It Takes a Cult (2009),
September 13, 2009, seattletimes.com, "The Love Israel Family:" a new history of Seattle's Love Israel commune, by Carol M. Ostrom,
September 25, 2009, Olympia, Wash.: TVW, Author's hour: The love Israel family urban commune, rural commune, Terry Tazioli; Chuck LeWarne,
September 27, 2009, The Herald [Everett, WA] New book tells all sides of the Israel family's saga, by Julie Muhlstein, Herald Columnist, Blog,
December 20, 2009, seattletimes.com, Lighten your footprint by sharing,
February 22, 2010, HistoryLink.org Essay 9322, Love Israel Family gives up all its Seattle properties in an out-of-court settlement on January 26, 1984. by Charles P. LeWarne, Archive,
May 24 2010, Conversation Series, Religion, Coversation Series: Cults From the 70s--Israel Love Hippie Cult, by PapaGiorgio, Archive,
December 30, 2010, KomoMews, Cult or commune, the Love Israel Family persists 43 years later, by Michael Harthorne,
September 30, 2012, seattletimes.com, Granger brickyard is one of Yakima Valley's hidden stories,
May 28, 2013 [1st web capture] Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Love Israel, Blog,
October 4, 2013, seattletimes.com, Spirit of the Love Israel family lives on in condos, Blog,

January 25, 1990, seattletimes.com, Love Family Hoping For Zoning Reversal, by Linda Shaw,

ARLINGTON-- The spiritual leader of the Love Israel family thinks the new members on the Snohomish County Council may help the family resolve a longtime zoning dispute over its 300-acre religious compound.

And Love Israel may be right.

Councilman Peter Hurley, who took office this month, said yesterday he's willing to consider supporting a Rural Community Village zone that the council rejected last year.

Under RCV zoning, the family members could keep the cluster of 14 single-family dwellings they've built on one part of the property as long as the buildings meet all building and health codes.

Under present zoning, the family is only allowed one house on each five-acre parcel.

On Wednesday, the Snohomish County hearing examiner enforced the council's previous decision and ordered the family, which has about 90 members, to comply with the zoning code within one year.

The family now can appeal the hearing examiner's decision back to the County Council.

"Since the county turned us down, the County Council has changed," Love Israel said. "We'll probably try to bring it before the council again.

"The zoning laws have no room for communities like ours."

December 5, 1990, seattletimes.com, Love Israel Family Can Keep Land - For Now, by Linda Shaw,

EVERETT - The Snohomish County sheriff won't be selling 290 acres belonging to an Arlington-area religious community - at least not yet.

The Love Israel "family" can use its land as a security while it challenges a former member's interest in the property, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled yesterday.

Judge John Wilson said the family doesn't have to come up with a cash bond to guarantee Daniel Gruener will get $175,000 to $200,000 if Gruener's judgment against the family stands.

The family's appeal of that judgment is pending in the state Court of Appeals.

Wilson's ruling postpones a sheriff's sale, previously set for tomorrow, that would have compelled the family to come up with a cash bond.

The land, not counting timber and buildings, recently was appraised at $960,000.

"I feel very relieved," said Love Israel, the family's spiritual leader, after the hearing.

Serious Israel, who has done much of the family's legal work, said the group probably would have been able to come up with the money, but it would have put it in more debt than members wanted.

Love Israel is the founder of the religious sect, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon.

Members believe in living as a peaceful, loving, communal family without ironclad rules and regulations. They all share the same last name and make money by building custom houses, selling organic produce and clearing timber.

The community has about 85 members. About 300 belonged in the early 1980s, when the family had its headquarters on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle.

But in 1983, accusations and lawsuits, including one brought by Gruener, forced the remaining members to move to the Arlington-area ranch.

The ranch was just about all the family had left after settling Gruener's lawsuit for $1.6 million. Gruener, formerly Richness Israel, sued to get back a large inheritance he'd brought to the community.

The settlement also gave Gruener a mortgage interest in the Arlington property.

Gruener foreclosed on that mortgage in 1989, and won a judgment against the family in Snohomish County Superior Court. With interest and attorney's fees, the judgment now is an estimated $175,000 to $200,000.

Serious Israel said the family paid Gruener about $7,500 on the mortgage even though members didn't think he was entitled to it.

But when Gruener foreclosed, he said, they had no choice but to fight because they could have lost their land.

Serious Israel said the family also has filed suit in King County to try to get back the entire settlement.

In court papers, they allege it was "extorted by duress and the abuse of the legal process."

Tom Gilman, Gruener's attorney, said yesterday his client simply is trying to collect the rest of his settlement. Gilman argued in court that the law requires a cash bond for the amount of the judgment while appeals were pending.

If the family can't get a bond, Gilman said, "it leads me to believe it (the land) can't be worth that much."

Love Israel said yesterday's ruling allows members to turn their attention to another legal matter: alleged zoning-code violations.

The family is appealing a decision by the Snohomish County hearing examiner that prohibits the family from clustering houses on its property.

The zoning code in that area doesn't allow for more than one house per five acres. The county also has cited the family for failing to get building permits for many structures on its property.

The family also has been working with county staffers to see if there's some way the county can allow cluster housing in rural areas.

County planning director Greg Williams said yesterday that his department has asked the County Council to consider allowing planned residential developments in rural areas, which would allow some clustering of buildings.

January 24, 1991, seattletimes.com, Judge Bars Israel Family Suit Against Ex-Member, by Linda Shaw,

The Love Israel religious community waited too long before filing suit to regain $1.6 million lost in a 1984 settlement with a former member, a judge says.

King County Superior Court Judge LeRoy McCullough yesterday ruled the statute of limitations bars the group from suing Daniel Gruener and his attorneys, said Serious Israel, a community member who represented the group in court.

Thomas Gilman, one of Gruener's attorneys, declined comment yesterday.

Israel said the community will ask the judge to reconsider his decision, then decide whether to appeal.

The Love Israel "family" has about 85 members and lives on a ranch near Arlington in Snohomish County. Love Israel is the spiritual head of the community, whose members say they believe in living as a loving, communal family without ironclad rules and regulations. They all share the same last name and make money by building custom houses, selling organic produce and clearing land.

The community, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon, had about 300 members in the early 1980s, when the family had its headquarters on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. But in 1984, the family broke up in a flurry of accusations and lawsuits, and financial troubles prompted remaining members to move to the Arlington-area ranch.

The ranch was just about all the family had left after settling with Gruener, who sued to get back a large inheritance he had brought to the community.

In court papers, the community has argued that the settlement was "extorted by duress and the abuse of the legal process."

Serious Israel said he argued in court yesterday that extenuating circumstances kept the family from filing the lawsuit before early 1990. Members since have contacted three people who they say are willing to retract what was said in damaging affidavits, mostly directed at Love Israel, which led to the settlement.

Serious Israel said some former members have threatened to make those affidavits public.

He said most of the allegations in the affidavits weren't true, including that Love Israel was involved in drugs, but that remaining family members decided to settle with Gruener rather than risk adverse publicity.

"Love felt he wouldn't have had a chance," Israel said. "He felt the media would have exploited it to the max."

Gruener also holds a mortgage on the Arlington ranch and foreclosed on it in 1989. The family is fighting that foreclosure in court.

March 9, 1991, seattletimes.com, Love Israel Grows Up -- Coming Of Age -- Change Has Come Slowly But Significantly To Controversial, by Linda Shaw,




ARLINGTON-- Touching money isn't taboo anymore.

Children no longer are chastised for calling their parents "mom" and "dad."

And nobody is ready to go to jail rather than reveal his birth date.

Members of the Love Israel community smile when they think back on discarded practices of their earlier days.

The self-appointed family, which once had 300 to 400 members on Queen Anne Hill in the 1970s and early 1980s, still is far from conventional. Its survival as a large-scale experiment in communal living still is hand-to-mouth. But members are older, more tolerant. And, like most of us, they find humor in some of their younger ways.

They laugh, for example, in recalling how, for a few months, members carried cash to the store in bags.

They chuckle at memories of marching in school yards on Queen Anne, of always wearing robes and never cutting their hair.

"When we started out, it was like spiritual boot camp. We did all kinds of outrageous things," says white-haired Serious Israel, 50.

Family members still take the surname Israel and use the first names of biblical figures or a virtue - Devotion, Confidence, Understanding. The adults still believe mankind is one in Jesus Christ, that love is the answer, that they're serving God as a model of unity and peace. They also still recognize Love Israel, who turned 50 this year, as their patriarch and decision-maker.

But their children, their survival and the experience gained over almost two decades of history has led the group to make concessions to modern living. And many of those changes have come since 1983, when 90 percent of the 300 to 400 members left disillusioned.

The remaining band of 35 adults and 52 children now live on a rustic ranch outside the small town of Arlington in north Snohomish County.

Members live in single-family households where monogamy, unlike earlier days, seems to be the prevailing relationship. They still want to free themselves of the limits of aging, but they don't express their claim on eternal life by refusing to give birth dates when stopped for traffic violations.

And children routinely call their parents "mom" and "dad," different from earlier times when the adults thought those words inhibited children from feeling part of the larger family.

Members have survived the loss of friends and millions of dollars of property during the breakup. They've survived the move to the ranch where they started with no jobs. They still face two major legal challenges that, in the next year, could destroy all they've built since.

But they're set on proving to the world and to their children that they've created a better alternative to life "outside."

4:30 a.m - Vortex Israel blows twice on a conch shell, emitting a long, deep call heard in the round yurts far from the remodeled barn that is the family's community center as well as the home to Love Israel. Adults arise, put on tunics and robes - one of the few times the garments are worn now - and walk in the darkness to the barn's former hayloft.

They sit on pillows by candlelight and listen to a few words from Love, who directs them to focus their minds on Jesus Christ. "We are one," he says. "That is God to us. We have to get to know ourselves." They join hands for a moment of silence, raise their voices in a long, sustained "ahhh."

Love Israel, formerly Paul Erdman, founded the family in 1968 on Queen Anne Hill, leaving his career as a television salesman behind. He says he stopped selling merchandise and started selling his revelations of a peaceful, loving family.

The group's religious base is Christian, built on its understanding of the New Testament and its two commandments - love thy Lord with all thy heart and love thy neighbor as thyself.

"Our ideal is just love," says Love. "Love really is the answer. It's not any more complicated than that."

Secular life, however, has proved anything but simple.

Over the years, the group has been considered a dangerous cult. A few members' parents have staged kidnappings of their children. In the late 1970s, two members overdosed on drugs.

But the family, also known as the Church of Armageddon, once had observer status in the Church Council of Greater Seattle and won friends on Queen Anne.

After the 1983 split, the adults still loyal to Love retreated to the 290 acres they now call home. The reasons the others gave for leaving included alleged cocaine use by Love, and his alleged refusal to give members more authority over business decisions.

Remaining members say much of the criticism aimed at Love was exaggerated or untrue. They call the breakup a "divorce" that weeded out complainers and malcontents.

The group also lost eight to nine houses on Queen Anne, a vineyard in Eastern Washington, a cannery in Toppenish and a horse ranch in Klickitat County.

The property went to former member Daniel Gruener, who sued to regain the million-dollar inheritance he'd turned over to the family upon joining. Family members now say they were unfairly coerced, but they agreed to an out-of-court settlement in 1984, which gave Gruener all the family's property except the Arlington ranch - and he got a mortgage on part of that.

The ranch sits near the foothills of the Cascades at the end of a mile-long dirt road.

Beyond Love's large, green barn, a series of canvas and plywood yurts, and a few other buildings stretch into woods above a small lake and a clearing where family celebrations are held in summer months. More yurts and trailers sit beyond gardens where the family raises organic vegetables both for itself and for sale.

The structures nearest the barn have electricity, washing machines and even dishwashers, but most members live by wood or propane heat and read by kerosene lamps. None of the buildings is finished and all of the furniture is decidedly second-hand, giving the place the feel of a summer camp.

Residents would like to complete their homes and bring electricity to everyone but they have several problems. First, they're still in danger of losing the ranch to Gruener, who has foreclosed on his mortgage, one of several on the property. If they don't prevail on appeal, they'll have to find the money to pay him or they'll lose the ranch.

Second, the family is under a no-construction order in part because it doesn't conform to Snohomish County zoning code.

Without subdividing their property, they only can have one single-family house on the entire parcel. Even if they subdivide, the code calls for no more than one house on five acres.

The family has clustered residences, intending to leave large open spaces around them.

The zoning issue also is in litigation.

9-9:30 a.m. - In Love's household, which includes nine of his children and several affiliated families, a stream of teenagers and adults fix breakfast on the run. Love eats a bowl of cold cereal downstairs. He's dressed in an embroidered white shirt for a trip to Seattle where he plans to meet with friends and rush the ranch mortgage payment via Express Mail.

The highschool and junior high students leave for public school, most of the men leave for a nearby construction site. The women, who still defer to the men in decision-making, meet to discuss their fledgling crafts business. As they talk, they string beads into earrings and paint porcelain jewelry.

In the early days, members didn't have jobs, preferring a spiritual life. They lived off the assets new members were required to turn over to the "commonwealth."

They had some fat times and some lean ones. People remember - or have heard stories about - the "carrot winter" or the "potato winter" when food was scarce.

To keep themselves in shoes, flour, cheese and other bare necessities, the men started businesses.

The biggest moneymaker is a custom-home construction business, which has built a half-dozen houses so far. Some of the men paint buildings and, during the holidays, hang Christmas lights.

But the need to make money was only the beginning of changes brought on by the children, who range from 8 months to 21 years.

Serious Israel, for example, says nudity once was common in the community. But he says he wouldn't go skinny-dipping now "because I wouldn't embarrass my kids."

In the past few years, the high-school-aged students have lobbied to go to public school - and won. Their junior-high-aged siblings started public school this year. Elementary school students still attend classes on the ranch, allowed under the state's home-schooling statute.

Dorothy Brewer, Serious' mother, says she thinks the adults now regret some of the earlier child-raising practices, when one child sometimes answered to as many as four sets of "parents."

When asked about life since the breakup, the teen-agers say they miss many people who left but they like answering to only one set of parents.

"There's not so many people telling you what to do," says 16-year-old Perfection, one of Love's daughters.

Some members say they've worked hard to make sure their children don't feel cheated by the life their parents have chosen.

Others say the teen-agers themselves make sure they don't get deprived. For still others, it's a combination of both.

When the teen-agers wanted new clothes for public school, they worked for them but they got them.

"You can be Spartan yourself, but they want to have nice clothes," says Steadfast Israel. "You want them to have nice clothes."

3 p.m. - The loud rock music emanates from the barn almost as soon as the high-school and junior-high students step off their school bus. Inside, the pool table immediately goes into use and several youths play Mario Brothers 3. The phones, quiet all day, start ringing.

Perfection colors a map for her geography class while a friend, Flowing, works on math.

Calm, 15, asks Perfection for help on homework, teasingly calling her "Ms. 3.6," referring to Perfection's grade-point average, which is posted in the family's business office.

Perfection, a high-school sophomore, has a simple answer for why she plans to leave the family. "Because I want money," she says. "I don't like being poor."

She'll visit, she says, try to send money back, but she has no interest in returning home after college. "I just want to get away and have my own life."

Many of the Israel teenagers feel the same way. Even those who eventually want to come back to the ranch, however, want to try life outside first.

The teen-agers say they value the close friendships they've developed in the family, but they say they fought to go to public school because they wanted to meet more people and get a better education. Now they want to go to college.

Cyrus, Sheriah's son, is one of few who's certain he's coming back to the ranch - after he travels and goes to college.

Yes, he says he used to be bothered by some of the inequities within the family. Some of Love's children, for example, have televisions while Cyrus' family doesn't even have electricity.

Although money is tight, Cyrus says he's been able to work in the family's businesses to earn money for what he wants.

What will bring him back, he says, is his desire to be near his parents, brothers and sisters.

Life Israel, one of Compassion's older brothers, says his decision hinges on whether the family prospers. If it does, he'll stay. If it doesn't, he won't.

6 p.m. - By the soft glow of kerosene lamps, Sheriah and Steadfast Israel and their three youngest children sit down to a dinner of noodles with grated cheese and sprouts. Cyrus and another brother, Natural, are somewhere else, playing video games or doing homework. The darkness obscures a picturesque view of the lake but the windows of their yurt are plastic and the warp in their dining room table could hold a bowl of water.

Steadfast says he's sometimes surprised by what he finds himself wanting these days. He'd like to get a television set and videocassette recorder so maybe the family would stay together at night. He also wishes the zoning battle would be over so he could at least finish his house - put in flooring, insulation.

The years of chopping firewood, working long hours and spending cold winters in uninsulated yurts have worn on members of the flock. But they say they're stronger than ever, more unified.

"There's an endearment level we've reached in each other that makes us want to work it out," says Ammishaddai. "Leaving each other is not an option."

The next year - maybe even six months - may determine whether they can stay in Arlington or whether they have to start over again somewhere else.

Optimism - or rather faith - is part of their creed, so they publicly express nothing but positive thoughts about the future - that as soon as they prosper, more people will join them.

And their survival depends on it. Unless they can at least build a place where their children can return and will want to return, they won't last even if they weather the immediate legal battles.

The adults say they don't want to - and couldn't - force their beliefs on their offspring. They want the children to be free to discover Jesus and discover they want to follow the same path.

But the adults want them to come back. And they, in a heady confidence that it won't happen, have challenged the older children to find something better outside.

"I want them to go off. I think it's the best medicine," says Confidence Israel, father of seven.

If they find something better, he says, ``let us know. Write post cards. We'll visit.

"If they don't, it's a testament to us."

August 28, 1991, seattletimes.com, Survey Leaves Landowners Near Arlington In Legal Limbo, by Jerry Bergsman.

ARLINGTON - Peace in a scenic, forested area southeast of Arlington is erupting into a growing border dispute rooted in government measurements taken 10 years before Washington became a state.

The remote, 36-square-mile area of public and private timberlands as well as homeowners who value their privacy is being disrupted by a $230,000 state survey begun five years ago. The survey will help the state Department of Natural Resources define exact property lines for the 8,000 acres of timberland it manages in an area nestled between Arlington and Granite Falls, northeast of the Stillaguamish River.

The problem is this: After trying to find government markers and match the field notes of an 1879 survey with geographic references, the state concluded the Government Land Office surveyor did not actually take the measurements. "It appears to be a fraudulent survey," said John Osborn, assistant Northwest regional manager for the DNR.

Because of some discrepancies found in the new survey, some property owners could lose land, while others may gain land. On one two-mile-long stretch, the new survey concluded, property lines are off between 200 and 700 feet.

Landowners in the area believe the markings that have been followed for the past 80 years should be binding. Bill Lloyd, who heads the surveying department for Cascade Survey, an Arlington company that has done many of the surveys in the area, said he would stick with the historical markings. But he doesn't plan more surveys in the area until the dispute is settled.

"The DNR set boundaries all of us agreed upon; leave it alone," said Jerry Firnstahl, who owns a 280-acre tree farm. "According to custom, this is what the people are satisfied with. Let custom rule the day."

With the new survey a few months from completion, about 400 property owners are getting anxious.

"I thought my life was pretty simple until all this came along," said Warren Steffes, 28, who owns 25 acres divided into five equal parcels, two of them bordering state land. "This is beyond my understanding."

Steve Sprague, co-owner and managing partner of the 2,000-acre Jim Creek Properties tree farm, is organizing property owners to support the historical markings. The group has had two community meetings, the first attracting 100 landowners, the second twice that many.

Jim Creek Properties could lose 120 acres to the state, worth about $250,000, including an area already harvested for which the state would expect to be reimbursed for the timber. For some others, a change could shift land, with some property owners losing a parcel in one place and picking up an equal amount from another adjacent owner.

Though neither the state nor property owners want to end up in court, the dispute appears to be headed that way. Sprague said Jim Creek planned to log 12 acres this year. Instead, it logged twice that much land to cover the cost of expected legal expenses.

Serious Israel, an elder of the Love Israel Family, a religious commune that owns land in the area, hopes negotiations or arbitration can settle the dispute.

"We always like to resolve these things without going to court," Osborn said. `"e're exploring some things, but we don't know how much room we have for negotiations. We can't give away state land."

Boundary changes would have an impact on the Love Israel Family's 290 acres. The new line being proposed could remove a lake and access to it and interrupt a loop road ringing the property, Israel said.

The new survey creates a conflict not only between the landowners and the state but also among private-property owners. Israel said a new line also could affect the division between Love Israel Family land and land owned by the Scott Paper Co.

The state land initially was in private ownership, lost to the county for taxes during the Depression. Lawmakers then turned it over to the state to manage, with timber proceeds to go to Snohomish County.

Sixty years ago, the state planted trees on the virtually bare land. Before harvesting the timber, Osborn said, it is critical to establish exact boundaries. That's when the historical markings came into question.

Until the dispute is settled, some economic activity also could grind to a halt, including real-estate transfers and bank loans.

"I'm afraid to transfer property to anyone because I don't know the boundaries," said Cynthia Geddis, an Arlington real-estate agent.

Geddis, who bought property in the area as an investment and then had to hold onto it because of the boundary questions, is avoiding real-estate deals in the area. "I've stayed away from it like it was the plague."

September 30, 1993, seattletimes.com, Commune Homes Going Condo --Love Israel Group's Site Redeveloped, by Sherry Stripling,

Town houses' open house

"The Garden on Queen Anne" town houses, 2550 6th Ave. W., will have an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Prices range from $259,000 to $275,000. Call Jan Campbell at Windermere Real Estate 972-8132 for information.


Jaws drop. Necks crane. And on Sunday the curious can actually get inside.

If passers-by are any indication, more people who attend the open house will be interested in what's left of the old Love Israel Family sanctuary than in seeing "The Garden on Queen Anne" town houses.

That's fine with the developers, who believe the "communal village" concept will appeal only to those flexible enough of heart to try something relatively new in high-density urban living.

"You've got to appreciate funk," said Jan Campbell, a Windermere Real Estate agent who came up with the concept and found a contractor willing to gamble in John Eng of Madison Quality Homes.

The site, which will be home to six families, was probably the most known of several used by the 300 to 400 people who were part of the Love Israel Family during its heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Most interesting of what's been retained is the main house and tower, which will be divided into a duplex and largely kept in the original style.

Four other town houses cluster around a spacious center garden. Three are 95 percent rebuilt from old Love Family houses; a fourth is entirely new.

They are town houses, meaning buyers will own the outside walls, but they will be sold as condominiums with the garden being part of common living space.

The tower will be lowered as a concession to some neighbors.

Although the Love Israel Family, which now is centralized in Snohomish County, had pretty good relations with its neighbors, the developers found some who wanted memory of the family erased.

But Campbell, who helped design "The Garden" with Eng and architect Rod Novion, insisted that other oddities about the place stay.

One town house, for instance, has a peculiar slant to one part of the roof that covers a room with a loft. Another has a fence cut to swing over a low branch of a tree.

The development has the feeling of life in a little village. The protection of two cats living at the place, for instance, has been written into the covenant.

The Love Israel family took the surname Israel and used the first names of biblical figures or a virtue - Devotion, Confidence, Understanding. They also recognized Love Israel as their patriarch.

Love Israel, formerly Paul Erdman, founded the family in 1968 on Queen Anne Hill, leaving his career as a television salesman behind.

The original Love Israel Family sanctuary on Queen Anne Hill, called the Church of Armageddon, was said to have been built on two commandments: Love thy Lord with all thy heart and love thy neighbor as thyself.

How much of that will transfer to the new owners is anybody's guess, but Eng has hopes all will feel part of the village.

"You share certain things with your neighbor but you have a certain privacy there," he said. "Aha. I feel relaxed. I feel like I'm away from that hectic work that I'm in all day and that it's worth coming back home."

The city had to be flexible to make the concept work, although Eng said he sweated it out from permit to permit.

"I would have liked to move the houses so they're a little more balanced by the way they sit," he said.

"But the setback requirements and codes make it very tough."

Permits aside, there was also the problem of trying to redo existing buildings. Some had examples of beautiful carpentry, Campbell said, but other parts looked like they'd been built by 12-year-olds.

And that made Alan Fossum, Madison Quality Homes vice president, and Tim Lurch, building superintendent, an important part of the redesigning team because they were on-site.

"We went from surprise to surprise," said Eng, adding that the architect told him, "You guys have really gone lulu with this one."

But at some point it becomes too late to turn back, Eng said. With this project, it was when the buildings took shape enough that existing pear, cherry and plum trees seemed at home.

"The people who buy it will want to maintain the character of it," Campbell said.


May 24, 1995, seattletimes.com, Commune On List For Flexible Zoning, by Diane Brooks,

After 10 years of living in an uneasy truce with Snohomish County, the Love Israel community outside Arlington may finally have a way to legalize itself.

The County Council is considering a demonstration program intended to bend zoning laws to try out development plans that combine higher densities with quality design and diverse, affordable housing.

Already, a selection committee has collected eight proposals - one from Love Israel, the rest from mainstream developers - for areas ranging from Granite Falls to the Cathcart area south of Snohomish.

The communal Love Israel family, which flourished on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill in the 1970s and early 1980s, now supports 80 to 100 members in a village it created on a former dairy farm.

Most of its struggles with Snohomish County over the past decade have been over code enforcement, zoning rules and building permits. The community's 250-acre property carries a rural zoning classification that allows one residence per 5-acre lot; Love Israel is clearly out of compliance with its cluster of homes, tents, yurts and trailers.

In 1986, the commune persuaded county planners to draft a proposed zoning amendment to allow "rural community villages." The County Council rejected it.

But that was a different era. The current council is working under the state Growth Management Act, which has focused attention on finding better ways to house a growing population.

Members of the Love Israel community have "tried to find a way their particular lifestyle fits into the county code," said Karen Miller, council chairwoman.

The only neighbors the County Council has heard from so far are those opposed to a different proposal, in the Cathcart area.

At a public hearing yesterday on the demonstration program, about a dozen residents strongly complained about a proposal by Cornerstone Northwest Mortgage of Everett to build a community of houses and town houses on rural lots around the former Cathcart School.

The Love Israel family wants to create a 1960s "theme park," a working village where people can witness a "success story that could encourage and inspire any visitor," according to a preliminary proposal submitted to the county committee.

Visitors could buy organic produce, herbs and nursery plants, and hand-made objects such as pottery, jewelry and furniture.

Serious Israel, a community leader, yesterday declined comment on the plan.

"He says it's premature," said Sheriah Israel. (All members of the community use the Israel surname.)

The County Council is expected to vote June 7 in favor of the program. The selection committee already has narrowed the eight proposals to five finalists, which include Love Israel and Cathcart, said Kurt Munnich, the county Planning Commission's representative on the committee.

"It's a win-win solution for Love Israel and the county because they've been at loggerheads for a long time," he said.

February 4, 1997, seattletimes.com, Most Schools Get Their Wish At Ballot Boxes -- Arlington Issue Is Apparent Loser,
...to unofficial fisraelcommune selected Love Israel, Serious Israel and Abishai Israel as the three commissioners for the Jonal results. And in an uncontested race east of Arlington, Snohomish County, the Love Israelcommune selected Love Israel, Serious Israel and Abishai Israel as the commissioners for a newly formed Jordan Water District to serve...

March 11, 1997, The Seattle Times, Twist In State Law May Aid Group's Dreams For Future -- Love Israel Commune Plans `Urban Village' On Banks Of Stillaguamish, by Stephen Clutter, Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau,

ARLINGTON - Love Israel, the self-proclaimed prophet and founder of a religious commune on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill in the 1960s, has found a new gig. He's become a public official.

And a restaurateur. And perhaps a developer? Leave it to Love Israel to find a little-noticed clause in the state's Growth Management Act that, if he succeeds, would allow him and his followers to create an urban village in a rural area along the south fork of the Stillaguamish River in Snohomish County.

Love Israel, 57, is now a commissioner of the newly formed Jordan Sewer District east of Arlington, created to cover the 305-acre ranch where he and his "family" hope to build as many as 100 homes on land now covered by a converted barn and a dozen yurts.

Love Israel won an uncontested election last month, along with Serious Israel and Abishai Israel, who also belong to the 75-member religious community.

"It's kind of funny, huh?" Love Israel said, sitting around an elegantly set table at the Village Bistro, the upscale restaurant he recently opened in downtown Arlington. "Who would have thought?"

Actually, a jaunt into politics seems only natural for the former television salesman named Paul Erdman, whose powers of persuasion once drew as many as 400 followers, including people who turned over riches to fund his vision of a Christian Utopia.

Love Israel and his followers frequently delighted or beguiled Seattle officials, hosting some of the liveliest parties on Queen Anne Hill, and displaying behavior that seemed peculiar, even for Seattle. They often wore colorful robes (or sometimes nothing at all), didn't cut their hair and expressed their claim of eternal life by not giving birthdates when stopped for traffic violations.

At its height of power, the family owned several houses on Queen Anne Hill, property in Hawaii and Alaska, a vineyard in Eastern Washington, a cannery, a horse ranch and an old converted Navy mine sweeper that it used as a yacht.

In those days, members didn't have jobs, preferring a "spiritual life," meaning they lived off the assets of new members.

"In Seattle, we were more focused inward," said Lael Israel. "Now we all have to work."

That includes running a custom-home construction company, growing organic foods and hosting an annual garlic festival.

In 1983, the family was ripped apart in a maelstrom of accusations, with some accusing Love Israel of sexual opportunism and of using family money for drugs and an extravagant lifestyle.

He denied the allegations. But many members left. Love Israel worked in Los Angeles for a year as an investment banker to help rebuild the family's assets, then returned in 1984 with a new vision - an urban village on land the family had previously used as a campground.

Dressed for success

The community, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon, tries to adhere to two main precepts of the New Testament - "Love thy Lord with all thy heart" and "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Not all are blood kin, but all take the surname Israel and use first names of biblical figures or a virtue. For instance, Love Israel's biological daughter is Compassion Israel, 27, who helps run the restaurant.

Love Israel routinely strolls around it, ensuring his guests are enjoying their meals - perhaps a special such as grilled jumbo prawns on a bed of wild mushroom puff pastry with Grand Marnier cream sauce ($15.95).

He is absorbed in the restaurant business, calling it the "best job I ever had." He dons suits for dinner guests, looking every-bit the maitre d', with hair slicked backed and tied into a fashionable ponytail.

The restaurant also is part of the family's continuing effort to improve relations with Arlington-area residents. "We've always had detractors," he said. "But they get so fanatical trying to detract us, they end up looking like the nuts."

Over the years, Love Israel has coached youth sports teams, and family members have been involved in civic activities. Love Israel's son, Clean Israel, now on the University of Washington football team, was a star tight end on the Arlington High School team two years ago. Love Israel could often be seen sitting in the bleachers, chatting with Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel, whose daughter was one of Clean Israel's classmates.

The family decided to form the sewer district last year as part of a plan to turn their once-struggling ranch into an urban village.

"We just want to raise our families, our food, and have a nice environment for our children," said Serious Israel, 56, a former English professor.

Serious Israel strolls along a gravel pathway, past a half-dozen children's bicycles parked neatly in a row. He sweeps his hand across the property as if touching the hillside, where a forest rises above the ranch.

"This was just an abandoned farm when we moved (here)," he said. ". . . Nothing was here but an old barn."

Now the barn is Love Israel's home and a place where the others gather for morning prayers and discussion. Behind the barn is a gazebo built for weddings, along with a barbecue pit, used for outdoor parties. There is a pond, a basketball court and meditation nook.

Nice, but the family wants more.

They `want to get legal'

First, they finally "want to get legal," as they say, referring to the fact that in building their collection of yurts and other structures over the years they have violated the county's zoning code for the land, which allows one house on every 5 acres.

After a series of long-running legal battles with Snohomish County officials - including some in which the county threatened to bulldoze their homes - they reached a truce in 1995 that allows them to exist as a "housing demonstration pilot project.

But the overlying zoning hasn't changed, and the pilot project expires this June, according to the Snohomish County planning department.

The family, however, discovered a clause in the state Growth Management Act that allows counties to establish urban villages in rural areas. They recently submitted a proposal to become an urban village, and hired Everett land-use consultant Reid Shockey to help them through the process.

Under the plan, the ranch would become "Jordan Village," which would mean replacing some of the yurts with conventional single-family houses and dormitory-style buildings that could be sold to non-family members.

The village also would include space for family members' cottage industries, and Serious Israel would like to see a community center, with classrooms for children, a communal dining area, and a kitchen for canning and baking.

Forming the sewer district would help the family attract grants and financing that isn't available to private parties, Serious Israel said.

Creation of the village ultimately will have to be approved by the Snohomish County Council in a process that could take up to two years.

Public meetings will be held after a formal application is made, said Hi Bronson, a county planner.

So far, there have been no official complaints about the family's plan, but Virginia Blain, who lives a mile down the road from the Israels, doesn't like it. "I moved here to be out in the country, not to live next to a metropolis," she said.

Keith Graves, another neighbor, said he feels frustrated that the Israels seem to be getting rewarded for flouting the law.

"Most of what they've built has been without permits, but nobody will touch them," Graves said. "They seem to be immune to everything."

Love Israel, who says he'd be a developer if he could live his life over again, admits the plan could provoke some controversy.

But when you're Love Israel, nearly everything does.


March 17, 1997, seattletimes.com, Letters, Love Israel Family Village -- Times' Story Perpetuated 13-Year-Old Rumors,

Recently, when the Love Israel Family was asked if a Times reporter could do an update on the new horizons in our family's saga, we anticipated a factual representation of the positive opportunities which are unfolding in our long struggle to realize our collective vision. We began to be a little concerned when we were denied our request to preview the article for accuracy prior to its publication. Times policy forbade such preview, we were told.

And what did the Times readers get? - a report well-salted with bias, misunderstanding and inaccuracy. A few hours of interviewing may provide sufficient basis for accurate reporting on three current events related to the legalization of our village, but it certainly does not qualify a news reporter to definitively summarize the 29-year history and character of our people.

Just to set the record straight on a few glaring inaccuracies, we have never been a "commune;" Love Israel is not a "self-proclaimed prophet;" nor are we his "followers." Our spiritual life in the late '60s does not translate as "living off of the assets of new members;" our minesweeper was not a "yacht" but a working fishing boat that helped feed thousands of people. And what do unsubstantiated rumors from 13 years ago have to do with our present evolution into a legal village? We have spent the past 13 years in an open involvement with our surrounding community. Why would The Times want to perpetuate suspicions from a former decade?

If The Times ever again presumes to take responsibility for accurately representing who we are to their readers, we can only hope that they would send a more enlightened reporter who is willing to spend a lot more time getting to know his subject matter.

Serious Israel, The Jordan Village, Arlington

May 1, 1997, seattletimes.com, Who's A Father? What's A Family? -- Suit Against Love Israel May Break New Legal Ground, by Stephen Clutter, Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

ARLINGTON - Love Israel, the founder of a religious community that began 29 years ago on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill, is embroiled in a child-support case that could test the legal definition of family.

A former family member now seeking child support for her two sons has named him as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

The 54-year-old woman bases her claim on the fact that Love Israel, 57, established himself as the head of the 75-member "family" and because he may be the biological father of one of the boys.

Love Israel did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

He is the spiritual leader of the Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon, also known as the Love Israel Family. Members, who live on a 305-acre ranch east of Arlington, preach "oneness" in Christ and consider themselves family, although most are not blood kin. They do, however, take the same last name of Israel and use first names that are from the Bible or a virtue.

The woman, Understanding Israel, who had been with the family since 1972, worked as a teacher and caregiver at the ranch, and in Seattle, where the group lived before moving to the Arlington area in 1984.

Her sons, ages 12 and 11, were born and raised within the family but left with their mother in December. She said she was forced from the group after a dispute with Love Israel.

Understanding Israel says she is part of the family's success and is entitled to child support for her children.

The Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office intervened in the case last month, essentially making itself a party in the lawsuit on behalf of the children.

That was done because the woman and her boys are state welfare recipients, and the state may try to recoup money from the father, whomever he may be, said David Orr, assistant chief deputy prosecutor.

James Hardesty, a law professor at the University of Washington, said the woman has a strong case if Love Israel proves to be the biological father, but that there is no legal precedent in Washington for trying to collect child support from someone who claims to be a spiritual head of a family.

"But that's the job of a good attorney," Hardesty said. "To come up with new legal ground."

Understanding Israel, whose name was Claudette Rockefeller before she joined Love Israel's group, says she was forced out of the family after defying Love Israel in a dispute regarding the schooling of her two children.

The boys had reading problems, but when she tried to enroll them in a special-education reading program in the local public school, Love Israel objected, she says.

He insisted, she says, that children be schooled on the ranch until they are 13. She enrolled the boys anyway in September. She says she was forced off the ranch three months later when she refused Love Israel's ultimatums to remove the children from school.

Understanding Israel's common-law husband, Consolation Israel, remains at the ranch. He is the father of one of the boys, Understanding Israel says, but says Love Israel could be the father of her younger child.

"The boy is interested in knowing who his father is," said Thomas Juhl, the attorney representing Understanding Israel.

The state may order Love Israel and Consolation Israel to take blood tests to try to determine who is the father, Juhl said. A court hearing on that issue is likely to occur this month, Juhl said.

August 7, 1997, seattletimes.com, A Weekend Of Flavor To Savor -- Edmonds, Arlington Events Promise Taste Of Fun In Summer Sun, by Rebekah Denn, Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

Visualize world domination in the field of gourmet baked potatoes. Or gallons of mellow, creamy garlic ice cream. Or even a basic Caesar salad and some grilled salmon.

Then head to either of two Snohomish County towns where a cornucopia of food, arts, crafts, music and entertainment - but mostly food - beckons this weekend.

The 15th annual Taste of Edmonds, which begins today at Sixth Avenue and Bell Street, will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and tomorrow and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

The eighth annual Arlington Garlic Festival starts today at the Love Israel family property at 14724 184th St. N.E. It runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Sunday. And the eighth annual Festival of the River starts tomorrow at River Meadows Park, 20416 Jordan Road in Arlington. It runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.


January 21, 1998, seattletimes.com - AP, Arlington Chiropractor Mistakenly Listed As Defaulting On Student Loans,

EVERETT - Federal officials say an Arlington chiropractor was incorrectly included on a national list of health-care providers who had defaulted on student loans.

Richard T. Fox was notified in September by the Department of Health and Human Services that his liability for $25,336 in loans had been cleared because of a disability.

The action was approved by the Surgeon General's Medical Review Board, according to a letter sent to Fox.

Fox's name will be taken off the default list, which is posted on a federal Internet site, said Kay Garvey, deputy director for communications at the Health Services and Resources Administration in Washington, D.C.

Nationally, 1,400 health-care providers were reported by federal officials Tuesday as defaulting on $107 million in loans.

"I was kind of surprised at the information," Fox said of his name being included. "I called up and said, 'Look, I'm not somebody who's a deadbeat trying to get away from the system. I have a letter that backs up I've been absolved.' "

Fox, who lives on the Love Israel farm near Arlington, said he sustained nerve damage to his neck, arm and wrist from his work as a chiropractor. He now works on the Love Israel farm, pulling weeds and teaching science to children home-schooled there.

Fox said he still has a chiropractic license and hopes to teach classes at the Seattle School of Massage.

A state law allows for suspension of the license of any health-care provider who has defaulted on a federal or state student loan, said Matt Ashworth, a state Health Department spokesman.

August 9, 1998, seattletimes.com, Fire Damages 5 Cars At Festival,

...or destroyed Saturday when hay ignited in a field used as a parking lot at the annual Garlic Festival thrown by the Love Israel family. The fire began about 7 p.m. in the 14700 block of 184th Street Northeast. With few spaces left in the...

April 3, 1999, seattletimes.com, A Reboot Into Eternity: The Righteous Path To Gates' Heaven,

To: Top 100 Religious Leaders From: Bill Gates Summit Invite cc: Ramtha, Love Israel Family, Dale Turner I know you're busy with Easter, but it's a down day for me. Let me confess, I'm losing the faith...

August 10, 2000,  seattletimes.com, Here & Now,

...3545. That smell in the air? It could be the 11th Annual Arlington Garlic Festival, today through Sunday at the Love Israel Family's Village and Organic Farm. Savor delights such as a 40-clove garlic-chicken sandwich and garlic ice cream...


October 31, 2000, seattletimes.com, Multitalented TV pioneer Steve Allen is dead at 78,

Mr. Allen had wed his first wife, Dorothy Goodman, during his stint in Arizona, and divorced her after meeting Jayne Meadows, whom he married in 1954. He had three sons - Steve Jr., David and Brian - with Goodman and one, Bill, with Meadows.

Brian Allen came to Seattle in the early 1970s to join the Church of Armageddon, a cult founded by his friend Paul Erdman, who was then calling himself Love Israel. Brian Allen was given the name Logic Israel.

He and his family left the cult in the early '80s. His father wrote a book about the experience, "Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults," published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1982. Brian Allen is now remarried and heading a real-estate office in Portland.

Mr. Allen is survived by Meadows, his four sons, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

August 29, 2001, seattletimes.com, Snohomish County election filings,

November 6, 2001, seattletimes.com, Snohomish County election results


August 1, 2002, seattletimes.com, Love Israel family seeks county permit for summer festival, by Tina Potterf, Times Snohomish County reporter

Earlier this week Serious Israel formally applied for a special-event permit for the Garlic and Music Festival, an annual summertime event the Love Israel family has hosted for more than a decade.

It was a move done "under protest," said Israel, spokesman for the Love Israel family, the religious group that hosts the festival on its sprawling land on the outskirts of Arlington, Snohomish County.

This year, county officials ordered the family to get a special-event permit for the festival, which kicks off its 13th year next Friday. Previously the festival, which features music, arts and crafts and food, did not need a permit because it was considered a religious event. The Israels maintain they don't need a permit because the event is their largest religious gathering of the year.

County officials disagree, citing the commercial nature of the festival — the family charges an admission of $10 — and the fact that it attracts thousands of people, most of whom are not disciples of the group.

Religious events or gatherings with more than 100 people are typically not required to get a permit, and public events put on by nonprofit groups that are not for private benefit or profit are also exempt, said Carolyn Diepenbrock, licensing manager with the county Auditor's Office.

On Monday the county ordered the Israels to stop advertising the festival until they applied for a permit, Diepenbrock said. The county was prepared to go to court to get a temporary restraining order if the Israels refused to get a permit.

In recent years the county has received complaints about the festival from neighbors who say it has gotten out of control. Last month, three-dozen residents signed a petition requesting the county deny the Israels a permit for this year's festival. They will have a chance to express their concerns during a public-comment period.

Before a permit is granted, traffic, crowd control and noise issues, among other things, have to be addressed. The Israels may not learn whether they will receive a permit until the day of the event, Diepenbrock said


August 4, 2002, seattletimes.com - AP, Auction brings riches to Love Israel,

ARLINGTON — The Love Israel religious commune is trying to find a buyer for its longtime Snohomish County home.

The 60-member spiritual "family," whose members agree to take Israel as their last name and hold material goods in common, is counting on an auction of luxury items to bring in well-heeled potential buyers for the 305-acre ranch — asking price $8.5 million.

Park Royal Gallery in Sterling, Va., approached the family about staging the auction of jewels, fine art and other items over the Independence Day weekend.

"It's their stuff. It's not our stuff," noted family spokesman Serious Israel.

Items include antiques from the estate of singer Perry Como, as well as paintings by Como. There will be carved French chateau furniture, art from Dali and Renoir, jewels and a Rolex watch valued at $140,000.

The family, which erected a tent for the auction, won't receive any of the money from the event. Park Royal will supply the armed guards, auctioneer and all the other trappings, realtor Denise Swanson said.

Love Israel gets an influx of prospective buyers for the ranch.

The property has been for sale for months, a result of the family running into land-use roadblocks and going into increasing debt.

The family wanted to develop clustered housing and its own cottage industries, Serious Israel said. However, Snohomish County zoning and building codes, which allow only one home per 5 acres in rural areas, have thwarted those goals.

The commune was founded in 1968 in Seattle by Love Israel — formerly a television salesman named Paul Erdman — who persuaded a core of followers to pursue his vision of a Christian Utopia.

At its height, the family had more than 400 members and owned several houses on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill, property in Hawaii and Alaska, a vineyard in Eastern Washington, a cannery, a horse ranch and an old converted Navy minesweeper that it used as a yacht.

In those days, members didn't have jobs, preferring a "spiritual life," funded largely by the assets of new members.

In 1983, the family was struck with a maelstrom of accusations, with some accusing Love Israel of sexual opportunism and of using family money for drugs and an extravagant lifestyle.

He denied the allegations. But many members left. Love Israel worked in Los Angeles for a year as an investment banker to help rebuild the family's assets, then returned in 1984 with a new vision — a village on land near Arlington the family had previously used as a campground.

However, to support its businesses, the family has borrowed heavily, mortgaging the land.

"Without the ability to develop the land to its potential as we proposed, we would not be able to afford the debt now associated with the land," Serious Israel said.

Swanson said some larger groups have shown interest in the land, perhaps as a retreat center. Serious Israel said ideally the family would find a buyer who would allow members to stay on as caretakers.

Information in this article, originally published July 5, was corrected July 14. A previous version of this story did not fully identify realtor Denise Swanson. Swanson was identified by last name only in the story.


August 26, 2002, seattletimes.com, Love family fest no party for neighbors, by Tina Potterf, Seattle Times Snohomish County reporter,

For more than a decade, people have flocked to a secluded ranch tucked in the hills outside Arlington for the Garlic and Music Festival, a summertime event hosted by the Love Israel family, a well-known religious group that got its start in the late 1960s on Queen Anne Hill.

The three-day festival, held on the family's sprawling land in a heavily forested section of Snohomish County, has the look and feel of a small Woodstock — a cross section of about 15,000 people letting their hair down, dancing and singing in the open air and celebrating life.

The family says the Garlic and Music Festival is its largest religious gathering of the year, celebrating their tenets of love, forgiveness and unity.

Neighbors say the celebration is an out-of-control party, attracting nonstop traffic and scofflaw festivalgoers. They sent a petition to Snohomish County officials signed by three dozen residents demanding that the county do something.

For the first time in the festival's 13-year history, officials say they will require organizers to get a special-event permit, denying the family's claim that the event is exempt as a religious gathering.

According to county licensing manager Carolyn Diepenbrock, the festival has become commercial in nature and no longer fits the definition of a religious gathering.

If the event has no permit on opening day, Aug. 9, county officials will likely step in with a cease-and-desist order, she said.

Love family spokesman Serious Israel said the family will refuse to get a permit.

"(The festival) is an expression of who we are as a spiritual people. It's part of our culture now," Serious Israel said. "I just don't feel the county has the authority to say yes or no to our fundamental right to have the gathering."

Public events put on by nonprofit groups that are not for private benefit or profit are generally not required to get a permit, Diepenbrock said. The festival charges $10 for admission.

Serious Israel said the family had to start charging festivalgoers to cover costs for entertainment, traffic control and maintaining the land. He said the family isn't making money from the festival.

It's unlikely the festival would be shut down this year, said Diepenbrock, because the family can immediately appeal the county's decision, which would allow the festival to go on until the matter could be decided by a hearing examiner.

Serious Israel said the family would appeal immediately.

Since it began, the festival, with its garlic-infused food, music and arts and crafts, has grown steadily in popularity, attracting upward of 5,000 people a day. Residents who live near the family property complain that the large numbers streaming into town are clogging roads and making it difficult to get in and out during the festival.

Virginia Blain, who lives down the road from the Israel property, thinks the festival has gotten out of control, with revelers discarding trash and loitering long after the event is over.

"I'm 73. I moved out here for peace and quiet, to have a little farm," she said. "It's not the sort of thing I think should be in a little rural community."

Serious Israel said: "The people that are impacted adversely by this are the people that live on our little one-mile road. There's a lot of traffic impact on this day. Those that enjoy the festival don't have a problem with it."

Although neighbors allege the family turns a blind eye to some of what goes on during the event, the festival has been almost incident-free, according to local law enforcement.

"The people who run the garlic festival do a very good job of policing themselves," said Jan Jorgensen, Snohomish County sheriff's spokeswoman.

Sheriff's deputies will make periodic visits to make sure the festival is running smoothly this year, she added.

Serious Israel said he wants to meet with county officials in the coming days to "resolve the issues."

"There needs to be more dialogue between us," he said. "There are some misconceptions about the festival and about us."

January 5, 2003, seattletimes.com, Logging results in lawsuit against Love Israel family,

EVERETT — A bank that loaned $1.6 million to the Love Israel family is seeking about $20,000 in damages and a halt to logging on the counterculture group’s 305-acre property.

In the recently filed lawsuit, Asia Europe Americas Bank asked a Snohomish County Superior Court judge to award damages for logs that have been taken from the site. The $20,000 should be applied to the group’s debt, said John Payseno, the bank’s lawyer.

The logging was “a very small amount of thinning on a part of the land,” said Serious Israel, an elder in the 60-member group. “The bank told us to stop and we stopped.”

The family and its Golden Triangle Development Inc. borrowed from the bank in 1998-2000, signing a promissory note and deed of trust that bars the removal of timber, minerals or anything else that would reduce the property’s value, according to court documents.

Payseno said bank officials “never knowingly permitted the cutting of timber” on the site.

The commune was founded in 1968 in Seattle by Love Israel, formerly Paul Erdman, a television sales representative, who preached a vision of a Christian Utopia.


February 28, 2003, seattlepi, Bankruptcy may be Love Israel family's salvation, by Jennifer Langston,

Hippie community, lured into rat race, seeks true path again

Love Israel in his lawyer's conference room after signing papers for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. "It's sad, but a lot of good has come from it (the bankruptcy)," he said. "The family has been brought closer together. Photo: Meryl Schenker/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

ARLINGTON -- The cavernous greenhouse near the entrance to the Love Israel family's ranch held great promise when they borrowed money to build it.

These former flower children, who once refused to touch dollar bills, would grow and sell organic cucumbers to help save their debt-ridden communal home.

But like so many other of the counterculture group's business ventures -- from a white tablecloth bistro to an ambitious wood milling business -- the profits disappeared. Blight infected the cucumbers, and their entire crop withered.

Faced with those failures, the man known as Love Israel and the family's corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week in a last-ditch effort to prevent two banks from foreclosing on their Snohomish County ranch.

They've been unable to pay back $3.2 million in loans taken out to settle old debts, wage legal battles, launch cottage industries and pursue development plans.

The bankruptcy filing is the latest twist in the odyssey of a religious family that got its start on Queen Anne Hill in the 1960s and moved to Snohomish County after an internal breakup that members still refer to as "the divorce."

Now, after efforts to preserve their lifestyle led them into the rat race they had tried to avoid, the aging hippies who remained together say the financial implosion may have set them free.

"What we created was a culture where everyone got in their cars to go to jobs that made no money," said Ammishaddai Israel, who has raised five children on the 300-acre ranch.

"We'd rather lose everything than stay on the treadmill we were on. It was killing us."

Culture centered on love

The Love Israel clan -- roughly 55 family members bound together by decades of shared experiences -- lives in canvas yurts, cabins, homes and a renovated barn connected by gravel paths in the woods.

They have names like Honesty, Brotherhood, Calm and Pure, symbolizing their belief that each person has the potential to represent an aspect of Jesus Christ. Each assumes the last name Israel.

Love Israel, born in Germany as Paul Erdman, founded the community in the heyday of flower power on Queen Anne hill, where likeminded hippies created their own culture centered on love and shared spiritual revelations.

In the late 1970s, they bought the Snohomish County ranch, where family members homesteaded in Army tents, tepees and buses. They made their own clothes and plowed the ground with Belgian draft horses.

A wave of disillusionment swept through the family in 1983, when key members accused their leader of cocaine use and selfish spending on luxuries after a new member turned over a large inheritance. Loyalists believe those perceptions were exaggerated.

"I think everyone had plenty of everything," Love Israel said. "When we had a lot of money all of a sudden, that really soured people's attitudes."

In a painful split, most of the family's 350 members chose to leave. Others retreated to the hills southeast of Arlington after losing their homes, a cannery, a horse ranch and other properties to settle a lawsuit.

The family has long wanted to create a self-sustaining village there, a 1960s-inspired Williamsburg where visitors might watch craft-making, get a massage, buy fresh herbs, eat dinner or hike around picturesque Butterfly Lake.

While struggling with Snohomish County over zoning issues, a group that once so disdained money that it paid rent in jewels launched an entrepreneurial assault from Arlington to Seattle. They started restaurants and cafes, coffee shops and vegetable stands.

As a result, the place where the family created an alternative universe based on three principles -- we are one, love is the answer and now is the time -- seemed like a ghost town some days.

"We'd like to go back to the original idea of faith and helping people, whether we got paid or not," said Love Israel. "I want to not be involved in all that red tape and all the things people can get stuck in."

Housing problems

The family's protracted land-use struggles started with a letter the county sent in the late 1980s saying that members' unorthodox homes lacked building permits and violated zoning codes.

They wanted to continue to live in a tightly clustered community, rather than spread out on subdivided lots, as the rural zoning required.

Their legal challenges failed -- but the housing stalemate persists more than a decade later. Family members have lived illegally in everything from renovated duck coops to one-room cabins to homes in various stages of construction.

"If (the county) could have come out here and looked at how we had to live because of that, they would have been ashamed," said Rejoice Israel, one of the family's most devoted gardeners, who helped raise five children in a 450-square-foot canvas yurt.

"Living in crowded conditions with little kids is OK. But you can only live in a one-room tent with teenagers for so long."

The inability to build legal homes has meant that second-generation children who would like to live on the ranch can't. The number of people living on the property has dwindled from a high of about 80.

Family members maintain that rules made for commercial developers don't work for such a community. The county didn't agree and never approved the family's application to create a rural village under an experimental housing program.

"There was a difficulty there in matching the vision of what they wanted to do and what the county would allow," said Susan Scanlan, a planner for Snohomish County.

'A charmed existence'

A strong sense of family is central to the Israel culture.

Each Saturday morning, dozens gather for their version of church, sitting on pillows in a wide circle, playing instruments, singing from the family songbook. A giddy toddler turns somersaults in the middle.

Love Israel, dressed in sweats, a black turtleneck and socks, talks a mile a minute in a big sanctuary streaming with light from a window shaped like the star of David.

He preaches the value of forgiveness, of permanence of family, the uselessness of holding grudges and the importance of sticking together.

March 4, 2003, seattletimes.com, Love Israel family's land may pull it out of bankruptcy, by Peyton Whitely, Times Snohomish County bureau

ARLINGTON — A social experiment that started on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill in the 1960s has ended up in bankruptcy court, but salvation for the Love Israel family may be at hand.

Citing $5.2 million in debt, the Love Israel family, known for its Arlington-area compound which hosts an annual Garlic and Music Festival, filed for bankruptcy last week.

The filings were made Thursday by Golden Triangle Development said Love Israel, founder of the religious group, which moved from Seattle to Arlington in the 1980s. Israel's filings describe him as owner of Golden Triangle.

The Chapter 11 filings with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court detail about $3.2 million in assets.

Major creditors include the Asia Europe Americas Bank, owed $2.9 million, and Frontier Bank, owed $1.1 million.

Assets include the family's property at 14724 184th St. N.E., valued at $1.8 million; property on Olympic Avenue in Arlington, valued at $1.1 million; and Lake Roosevelt property, valued at $300,000.

Kevin Hanchett, a Seattle attorney representing Golden Triangle and Israel, said a deal is in the works that may allow the commune to continue.

Hanchett said the corporation's hundreds of acres could be worth up to $6 million. Negotiations are under way to sell the properties for between $3 million and $6 million, said Hanchett, which could be enough to satisfy most claims, including those of the two banks. A deal might allow the Love Israel family to continue to occupy about 40 acres where improvements have been made.

Hanchett said the filings were to prevent the two banks from beginning foreclosure proceedings.

"We have a potential buyer," Hanchett said, adding that the sale could be concluded this year.

The Love Israel family got its start on Queen Anne Hill with the idea of becoming a self-sustaining community free of the problems of outside society.

December 4, 2003, seattletimes.com, Judge may force Love Israel clan to sell off land,

For more than 30 years, the Love Israel family has been espousing the virtues of communal living, love and unity, first from Seattle's Queen Anne Hill and later from the group's sprawling compound east of Arlington.

But a judge's decision next week could end the social experiment that had its beginnings during the late 1960s.

The Love Israel family, facing bankruptcy and debts of about $4 million, could be ordered next Friday to sell its 300 acres in unincorporated Snohomish County to a group planning to develop a campground on the site. Proceeds from the sale would be used to satisfy the organization's debts.

"We've managed to buy this much time out of the bankruptcy," said Serious Israel, spokesman for the religious group. "But the clock is ticking."

The commune was founded in 1968 in Seattle by Love Israel — formerly a television salesman named Paul Erdman — who persuaded followers to pursue his vision of a Christian Utopia.

At one time, the family had more than 400 members and owned several houses in Seattle and property in Alaska, Hawaii and Eastern Washington.

In 1983, the family was sharply divided when some accused Love Israel of using family money for drugs and an extravagant lifestyle. Although he denied the allegations, the rift prompted many members to leave.

In 1984, Love Israel moved his remaining followers to the Arlington compound.

Since then, members of the family have become ingrained in the community, with members' children attending local schools. Each summer, the family hosted a Garlic and Music Festival that drew several thousand people.

Serious Israel said the 40 people who live on the property aren't sure what they will do if the federal Bankruptcy Court judge orders the sale. "We haven't crossed that bridge yet," Israel said. "We're hoping to have about three months."

The family filed for bankruptcy in February after plans to become a self-sustaining community failed. In the bankruptcy filings, made through its business name of Golden Triangle Development and on behalf of Love Israel, the group described debts of about $4 million, including $2.9 million owed to the Asia Europe Americas Bank and $1.1 million owed to Frontier Bank. Assets then were estimated at $3.2 million.

Since the bankruptcy filing, Serious Israel said, the family has made strenuous efforts to sell its property, including by subdividing it and inviting developers to look at the land.

All the efforts have resulted in one feasible offer, he said, by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, a national Jewish camping club looking for property in the Pacific Northwest. That offer is for about $3.3 million. The question before the judge next week will be whether to sign an order approving the sale, Serious Israel said.

The two banks also have received court authority to order a foreclosure on the property, he said, but have held off pending next week's hearing.

The family has one final possible solution, Serious Israel said. The family has asked Snohomish County officials to change planning rules to allow the development of an "eco-village" on the property, which could qualify for affordable-housing funds.

Serious Israel, 63, said family members met with county officials Wednesday to discuss the rules changes but have had no response. It could be a longshot since the family has been seeking such changes for years.

"They're chewing on it," he said of county officials. "We wanted to test the waters yesterday with the county, to see if there's been any change in the mentality."

But county officials yesterday held out little hope.

"They have a desire to create a kind of community that doesn't fit into people's normal idea of a community," said Pam Miller, a manager for the county's land-use division.

Miller said the eco-village concept doesn't fit into the county's planning regulations, and it would take at least a year to change them.

"It doesn't seem like it's going to work," she said. "It's a vision that they have that just doesn't fit neatly into the rules. ... It's a little late in the process to be doing this, unfortunately."

If the sale is approved, Serious Israel said family members would have about three months to move. "Spiritually, it's been really good for us," he said. "It's tested our mettle. We've become fatalistic about it."

Serious Israel said he and some other members have expressed an interest in visiting eco-village sites elsewhere in the world, perhaps in Denmark. He said the sale could leave the group with a small nest egg that would allow the family to start again.

Serious Israel said the collapse is upsetting, but members have come to grips with it. "There's a lot of history here," he said. "A lot of kids were born here."

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259, or pwhitely@seattletimes.com

Times Snohomish County bureau reporter Emily Heffter contributed to this report.

August 5, 2003, seattletimes.com, Group hopes garlic fest holds seeds of survival, by Diane Wright,

Serious Israel scanned the Love Israel property, an anticipatory look in his blue eyes.

No wonder. The quiet meadows will teem with people at the 14th annual Garlic and Music Festival near Arlington this weekend. More than 400 volunteers will make it happen: 20 food vendors, 80 craftspeople and 40 entertainment acts.

In a sense, it's turning back the clock — to Woodstock, tie-dyed shirts, flower power and the faiths outside the mainstream.

For a spiritual family that came together in the 1960s and '70s, the guiding forces were "continuous forgiveness, continuous starting over with each other, continuous giving each other a fresh start," said Serious Israel, 62, the community's spokesman.

People who join the community — organized by households — are invited to take the last name of Israel, combined with a "virtue" name describing an attribute.

The group began in 1968 on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill, but for many years, members camped on an old Arlington-area farm property, which they acquired in the mid-1970s. The first festival was a spontaneous harvest celebration among the people living there.

The festival was later opened to the public, and attendance is usually about 12,000, which makes for a busy weekend around Arlington. Also happening that weekend is the Festival of the River at nearby River Meadows County Park.

"This is a little, tiny, dead-end, one-mile stretch of road that's superpeaceful most of the time, and once a year it turns into a major traffic route," Israel said.

"It's definitely a lot more traffic, but we just take it as part of the festivities," said Sylvia Hales, a neighbor down the street at Pragtree Farm, a land trust that offers retreats and educational events.

"We have a number of people who camp on our land and participate in the festival. For me, it's been very convenient. I very much enjoy it."

But these are trying times for the Israel community.

The family earlier this year filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Richer in land than in assets, if the group members can't make the property they've owned since 1976 pay, their creditors can take it away after Oct. 31, Israel said.

"Our future here is a little bit shaky right now," he said. "We're under pressure to come up with an economic solution, and selling it is a last-resort solution."

The family is working with advisers to learn about creating a limited partnership as the Jordan Village Resort and offering ownership shares for $15,000.

"Right now, we own more land than we can afford," Israel said. "We borrowed against the land for many, many years, trying to move that process towards a point where then we could get the money back out from a residential development.

"This festival is very significant to us because it's an opportunity to get the word out to people who love this place and come back year after year."

Last year, Snohomish County ordered the family to apply for a special-event permit to hold the festival. But in October, the permit was put on hold by the county hearing examiner, citing the county's need to redefine the terms of such licenses.

The next hurdle was in February, when the family applied for a liquor license for a beer garden at the festival. Snohomish County wanted time to look at restrictions on hours of operation, traffic control and insurance, and eventually the application was forwarded to the state Liquor Control Board. It's been a six-month wait, and the board was expected to issue a ruling on the matter late yesterday.

On Monday, the Israel family was told that it would be issued a special-event permit to hold the festival, regardless of the liquor-license issue.

Then there's the festival itself, celebrating that pungent bulb, garlic.

"That's what we were harvesting" when the festival was born, Israel said.

"We had grown a lot of garlic in the front field. We'd pulled it out and had it drying. We brought it in and hung it on rafters, and next thing you know, we were cooking a little up on the side, and next thing you know, we were bringing another few things in, and the next thing you know, we were opening a bottle of wine."

And the festival grew, offering baked garlic, marinated garlic, caramelized garlic. And garlic bread, garlic chocolate, garlic ice cream.

"We have a sister community (on Lake Roosevelt) in Eastern Washington that grows more garlic than we do here, and they have a nice booth here every year," Israel said.

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or dwright@seattletimes.com

December 12, 2003, seattletimes.com, Sale of 300-acre Love Israel family spread OK'd,

A federal bankruptcy judge in Seattle yesterday approved the sale of 300 acres owned by the Love Israel family near Arlington, signaling the likely move of the community before the end of next month.

The approval by Judge Karen Overstreet marks the most recent development in the 33-year history of the Love Israel family, which once operated as a communal group on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill but moved to a site about seven miles southeast of Arlington in 1984 after internal disputes threatened its existence.

Since then, members of the family have become ingrained in the community, and each summer, the family hosted a Garlic and Music Festival that drew several thousand people.

Overstreet's order called for the closing of the $3.3 million sale to the Union for Reform Judaism by Thursday, with a provision that the property could be sold at foreclosure the following day if the sale doesn't close. "This is wonderful news," said Rabbi David Fine, regional director for the union, a national organization with a membership of some 900 Jewish congregations.

Fine said the union, formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, had sought property for a campground in the Seattle area for about two years.

Those in the courtroom yesterday expected the sale to close as planned.

"What I've heard, your honor, is this is a done deal," said Kevin Hanchett, an attorney representing the two major creditors for Golden Triangle Development Inc., the business name of the Love Israel family.

Love Israel, the group's founder, and Golden Triangle filed for bankruptcy in February. Serious Israel, a spokesman for the family, last week said various maneuvers had allowed holding off sale of the property, and he expressed hope that Snohomish County would approve an "eco-village" development at the site. That approval did not materialize, however, leading to yesterday's court order.

Serious Israel yesterday declined comment on the judge's order.

Hanchett said the approximately 40 members of the Love Israel family living at the property likely would have 45 days from the closing date to leave the premises. Serious Israel said last week that neither he nor other family members know where they might move. He expressed an interest in visiting other eco-village developments in Europe.

With proceeds from the $3.3 million sale, the Israel family's two major creditors, Asia Europe Americas Bank and Frontier Bank, would be paid some $3.2 million, said Hanchett. In its original bankruptcy filings, the Love Israel family cited debts of $5.2 million and estimated it had $3.2 million in assets.

Serious Israel has said some money may be left for the family to start over, but he didn't say how much.

Some conditions have to be met to close the sale, including resolving a minor title dispute and having one creditor agree to relinquish an $80,000 claim, but it's expected such issues will be settled before the Thursday closing deadline, Hanchett said.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or pwhitely@seattletimes.com

December 19, 2003, seattletimes.com, Bankruptcy court approves sale of Love Israel property,

SEATTLE — The sale of the Love Israel family's 300-acre property near Arlington was approved yesterday in federal bankruptcy court.

The sale had been ordered by Judge Karen Overstreet on Dec. 12, with a closing date specified to take place by yesterday afternoon. An objection to the sale later was filed by a creditor, Cascade Bank of Everett, but the objection was overruled by the judge and the sale was sent to escrow for closing.

Two other banks that were major creditors, Frontier Bank and Asia Europe Americas Bank, had indicated they would move for a foreclosure sale to be held yesterday but instead agreed to continue the sale for a week to allow the closing to take place, which mainly involves recording documents.

The property is being purchased by the Union for Reform Judaism, a national Jewish organization that intends to use the property about seven miles from Arlington as a campground. The sale terms call for the organization to pay about $3.3 million for the property, with the bulk of the proceeds going to the two major banks.

It's expected that about 40 members of the Love Israel community who are now living at the site will have to leave near the end of January.

March 2, 2004, seattletimes.com, Couple to restore former bank,
...husband, Kyle Stephenson, became the owners of the building this year after acquiring it through the bankruptcy of the Love Israel family. As part of a bankruptcy settlement last year, the building ended up being owned by Frontier Bank, which...

March 9, 2004, seattletimes.com, Quirky array up for sale by Love Israel clan, by Diane Brooks,

ARLINGTON — The baby grand piano already is listed on eBay — bidding starts at $6,000. Everything else — the Ming dynasty bronze plaque of the goddess of mercy, the bow and arrows reputedly once owned by Sitting Bull, the Arabian knife that purportedly dates back to the time of David — goes on sale Saturday.

Love Israel and his 40-member "family" are packing up their Arlington-area ranch and relocating to the northeastern corner of Washington, setting the scene for an unusual two-day moving sale. It's a combination house-cleaning and fund-raiser, with items ranging from mundane household goods and furniture to valuable collectibles.

"It's as much an opportunity to say goodbye as it is to raise money for our departure," said family spokesman Serious Israel.

In December, the family staved off bankruptcy by selling its 300-acre property to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, a national Jewish organization that plans to build an adult retreat center and youth summer camp on the site.

Love was born Paul Erdman and owned a chain of Seattle television stores before discovering God and dropping out of mainstream society. He founded the communal family in Seattle in 1968, stressing that all people are one with God and everyone should love one another and live fully in the moment. Family members adopted the surname "Israel" and first names that either represented a virtue or were from the Bible.

The Israel family moved to the rural ranch in 1984 after the breakup of its Queen Anne Hill community in Seattle. Most of the family's 300 members left at that point, but about 70 remained faithful to Love Israel and later resettled on the Arlington ranch.

For 20 years the family has struggled with the Snohomish County government to find a legal way to create a communal village on the ranch, which for years has hosted an annual garlic festival. Love Israel continued to borrow money from banks and had to sell the property for $4.3 million.

Now most members of the Israel family plan to move to China Bend, Stevens County. Other family members already live there, and Love's wife, Honesty, owns 52 acres there.

The family began packing weeks ago.

Items for sale include:

• A paperback collection of 1965 McCall cookbooks.

• An antique English harp, carved with saints and angels, believed worth at least $10,000.

• Assorted vases: milk glass, crystal, brass, pottery.

• Delft pottery tobacco jar, a valuable hand-painted Dutch collectible.

• L-shape mahogany bar (9 foot by 6 foot) with copper panels, salvaged from a Seattle tavern, asking price $5,000.

• A collection of antique Nepalese, Arabian and Indian knives, one reportedly dating back 3,000 years.

• Assorted Chinese collectibles: wood carvings, stone carvings, statuettes.

• Huge potted plants: several aloes, a lemon tree and an avocado tree.

• Several antique tables.

• Israel family memorabilia, including garlic- festival programs.

"We'd love to raise $50,000," Serious Israel said. That could happen, he said, if buyers pick up the big-ticket items such as the piano, the harp and artworks.

"It would be really good," he said. "Because we're really broke."

March 13, 2004, seattletimes.com, Commune holds 2-day yard sale: Love Israel family prepares to move,

ARLINGTON, Snohomish County — In the end, it was a moving sale like many others.

The early birds showed up at 8 a.m., before the extended family had finished breakfast. A big-screen TV priced at $500 was quickly snatched up. A Joni Mitchell album lasted until about 2 p.m.

The Love Israel family's sale, which began yesterday and will continue today on the family's 300-acre ranch in rural Snohomish County, attracted both well-wishers and people curious about the '60s-era commune and its longtime members, now graying.

Laura West, a Granite Falls resident, eyed an antique English harp valued at more than $10,000. She said she was visiting the ranch for the first time.

"I knew it was a commune, but not in the negative sense of the word," she said. "I've never heard anything negative about them."

For some family members, the sale meant losing a way of life.

Ease Israel Wiles, the grown daughter of Patience and Fortitude Israel, said she'd been crying all morning, "devastated" at losing a special place.

From outside her parents' modest cabin, a four-room wooden building topped by a yurt, she pointed to a wooded knoll where the children she grew up with hunted Easter eggs, and to the pond, where her 3-year-old son now played.

"As humble as my mom's place is, this is home," she said. "This is where we all come together."

In December, the Love Israel family staved off bankruptcy by selling the Arlington ranch for $4.3 million to a national Jewish organization that plans to build a retreat center and summer camp.

The 40-member family paid off accumulated debts and hoped to raise an additional $50,000 at the sale yesterday to help pay for its move to undeveloped land in remote northeastern Washington.

By late yesterday afternoon, many of the big-ticket items, including a baby grand piano and a 9-foot mahogany bar salvaged from a Seattle tavern, had not been sold. None of the family members would speculate on how much money the sale raised.

Love Israel, who was born Paul Erdman, founded the communal family in Seattle in 1968, stressing that all people are one with God and that everyone should love one another and live in the moment. He initially adopted the name "Love Is Real," which evolved into Love Israel.

The other family members adopted the surname Israel and took first names from the Bible or that represented virtues.

The family, which at the time numbered about 300, broke up in 1982 amid accusations of drug use, sexual misconduct and financial mismanagement. Some former members sued Love Israel for money they'd handed over to the family when they joined.

For the past 20 years, the remaining family members have battled Snohomish County over plans to create a communal village on the 300-acre ranch. Yesterday, Love Israel said the county was afraid of attracting more fringe groups.

"They thought they'd get a bunch of Nazis," he said.

As he passed a table of used books where a man had picked up a paperback titled "How to Avoid Lawyers," the silver-haired Love Israel joked: "That's something I was never able to do."

In the sunny, glassed-in entry way to a converted barn that doubled as the family meeting area and living room, Siloam Israel answered questions and ran credit-card purchases. She said she'd known Love Israel since 1972, when they were part of another family that lived first in Los Angeles and then Hawaii.

She won't be moving with the family to its new home. One of her sons is in college on the East Coast, studying engineering. Another hasn't finished high school.

"You know families," she said. "People grow, they change. You try to live life to the best of your ability and stay connected to the people you love."

Lake Stevens resident Bill Scribner stopped by the moving sale to say goodbye to friends Serious and Beauty. He was wearing a tie-dyed shirt he had bought the day he met them, at the family's annual summer garlic festival.

"We'll stay in touch," he said, "but it marks the end of an era, doesn't it?"

Lynn Thompson: 425-745-7807 or lthompson@seattletimes.com
April 18, 2004, seattletimes.com, Chapter closes with clan's move,

I am sad. Once again we have lost a landmark, a cultural icon, a slice of our regional soul.

It's like when they shut the Doghouse. Or tore down the Twin Tepees. Or turned out the lights at Chubby & Tubby.

Love Israel moved away this week.

OK, maybe it's more like losing an eccentric uncle. It's still kind of sad, isn't it?

After 36 years, the former TV salesman who changed his name to Love Is Real and twice built religious communes in the Puget Sound area is off to Eastern Washington.

Forced by bankruptcy to sell their 300-acre ranch in Snohomish County, the Israel family is now setting up tents on 52 acres north of Spokane.

For Seattle it's the apparent end to a rocky but intriguing relationship that began in 1968, when Love moved to town saying he'd had a vision that "we're all one."

"Love is the answer. Now is the time," he'd say. "Don't you believe it?"

By the early 1980s as many as 200 people did believe, surrendering their careers, money and identities to live together as the Church of the Armageddon on Queen Anne Hill.

"Who on Queen Anne in the last decade didn't see and recognize them?" wrote The Seattle Times in 1984. "The men, a visual mix of bearded hippie and biblical prophet. The women, with long flowing hair and dresses, submissively following. And the children. Dressed like baby hippies, herded in groups, they were usually very well behaved."

Some called them a cult. In 1972, two members died sniffing paint thinner in a religious rite. The family caused a sensation at the coroner's office by trying to resurrect the bodies.

But if they were a cult, they were our cult. They were distinctly Seattle — polite, back-to-the-land types. People loved their virtuous chosen names (like Beauty or Intuition) and their garlic festivals.

They grew up. They poked fun at stereotypes. Once the kids wore shirts to school that read "Cult member 1," "Cult member 2," and so on.

And look how the story's ending. There's no L.A.-style deprogramming or mass suicide. What could be more Seattle than drifting off to live in yurts and grow organic wine grapes?

Through it all, Love, 63, has remained a quixotic force. Even a skeptic like me can feel the tug of his charm. Yet his passion for pricey toys (a plane, a yacht) and risky business schemes always seems at odds with his message.

Yet the family survives. I drove to the Arlington ranch recently to tell Love I was sorry to see him go. Who can possibly be as entertaining?

He laughed. It's never been about him, he said.

"We'll be fine. They call us the Teflon cult because nothing sticks for long."

Then he leaned in close.

"We have been buying some properties in the area," he said. "Side by side, so we can bring everyone back together."

Where, he wouldn't say. A little snooping found it's in Bothell, on the banks of the Sammamish River.

"We're not done in Seattle," he said. "Someday we'll be back. If it takes a thousand years, we'll be back."

Don't you believe it?

Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 ordwestneat@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.
April 18, 2004, seattletimes.com, Controversial, colorful Israel family moves to more open spaces,

April 19, 2004, The Seattle Times, Controversial, colorful Israel family moves to more open spaces, by Diane Brooks,

ARLINGTON — The exodus of the Israel family is under way — to the wilderness, no less.

While the image of a biblical journey to a promised land is a tempting one, real life rarely is that romantic. And when Love Israel is involved, reality often is entangled with myth and legend.

It has been 36 years since Love Israel, then a charismatic young man named Paul Erdman, began attracting spiritual seekers to his home on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill to experience his revelations about God, love and universal oneness. By 1983, when the family shattered amid accusations about drugs, sex and financial mismanagement, he had assembled a tightly-woven community of more than 300 men, women and children.

Now the remaining 40-plus devoted Israelites have packed up their 300-acre ranch north of Arlington, where they retreated 20 years ago after the breakup, to relocate to a remote corner of the state.

Faced with bankruptcy and overwhelming debts, the family in December sold its secluded paradise for $4.3 million to a national Jewish organization for use as an adult retreat center and youth summer camp.

"This is like a freeing event for me," says Love, 63. "I have no bills to pay off, so I probably feel about 10 tons lighter than I did."

Ultimately, Love hopes to create two focal points for his family: a cultural center in Seattle ("the Experience Hippie Project," he jokes) and a community at China Bend, Stevens County, in the state's northeastern corner, where about 25 family members and friends already live.

His wife, Honesty Israel, owns 52 acres in China Bend, a wooded, rural area along the Columbia River. Their associates individually own an additional 200 acres, including a winery.

After more than three decades of controversy and external transformation, Love's three-pronged spiritual message remains unchanged.

"The truth is we're all one," he says. "Love is the answer. And now is the time."

He doesn't hold himself up as a prophet or a guru or a sole source of inspiration for his followers. But he believes God chose him to lead his family members as they personally experience their own transcendental revelations.

Views vary

Differing perceptions of Love and the Israel family are almost unreconcilable.

Newspaper stories from the mid-1980s paint an unhealthy scene: children forbidden to call their parents "mom" and "dad"; a teen claiming he was given LSD at age 5; the commonplace use of drugs, in part for spiritual enhancement; Love's one-man control over finances and all aspects of life, even endorsing or nixing members' sexual unions.

Love — and other family members — say their earlier experimentation with drugs and sexuality were simply a reflection of what was happening during the flower-powered 1960s, the swinging '70s and the cocaine-flavored '80s.

Now they're older and wiser. They long ago gave up eccentricities such as refusing to give their ages — yes, they believe their souls are eternal, but they do have birth dates for their current incarnations.

And Love is adamant that he never gave drugs to children. He's very proud of his own 11 offspring — nine of them college graduates — and his dozen grandchildren.

Born in Berlin, Love moved to Seattle at age 7 with his mother and four siblings. At 15, he moved to Switzerland, living with an aunt and uncle while attending school. Two years later, he returned to Seattle.

Love married his first wife at 21 and invested some family money into his first business: a small chain of Seattle and Tacoma television stores.

The 'love thing'

Around 1965, Love started to notice "this hippie thing, this love thing."

In 1967, he threw a big party, gave away everything he owned and headed to San Francisco with only $50. Once there, he said, he stopped off at the first church he saw and stuffed all of his cash into a church-fund box.

"You just put it in God's bank and see if it gets any interest."

Love was 27 when he had his pivotal vision, during a drug trip in his Haight-Ashbury apartment. He was sitting on his bed talking with Brian Allen, a casual friend at the time, when he claims he saw Jesus in Allen's eyes.

"I saw love, I saw forgiveness. I saw a million symbols, all in a second," he said.

About a year later, Love returned to Seattle, rented a small house on Queen Anne and began attracting his first followers.

"It was a place to meditate," he said. "If you came there, I expected you to meditate until you saw something."

Life on Queen Anne

The Israel family was a colorful and eventually accepted presence on Queen Anne, at one point owning 17 brightly-painted houses clustered in three groups. Family members ripped down fences between their uniquely renovated houses, creating common areas planted with flowering trees and grape arbors.

Two houses on 6th Avenue West near West Halladay Street were combined to create the distinctive family sanctuary, complete with a solarium and greenhouses. The family operated several neighborhood enterprises — a health-food store, a woodworking shop and an art gallery — and offered free meals and shelter at its Front Door Inn.

While some area residents worried about the family's eccentricities and counterculture habits — including drug use — others praised the group for fixing up eyesores. Family members renovated numerous old houses and transformed empty, weedy lots into gardens.

Family members were easily recognized, with long hair and colorful, flowing robes. Their children — Love didn't believe in birth control — were well-behaved, often seen in supervised groups.

Men ruled all households, loose collections of families and single members who shared meals and other basics.

It was a fun era, family members say. Life was nomadic, with many members cycling between Queen Anne, the Arlington ranch, Eastern Washington and family properties in Hawaii and Alaska.

The 1983 breakup

A group of family elders triggered the breakup in 1983, demanding that Love relinquish his one-man control over the family's finances. He was portrayed as abusing cocaine and living in luxury while the family's home-schooled children lacked basic supplies and farmworkers at the Arlington ranch needed work boots.

Love continues to deny those accusations.

When he refused to share financial control, the dissenters filed a lawsuit seeking the return of assets given to the family by newly disgruntled members — including Daniel Gruener, who had inherited nearly $1.6 million after he joined.

Love agreed to a settlement that gave Gruener — the former Richness Israel — all the family's Seattle real estate, including much property on Queen Anne Hill. Love signed over the family's businesses — a construction company, the grocery/deli — to their individual managers.

Today, he says he has no regrets about his handling of the mutiny. The rebels had no experience handling large sums of money, Love said, who invested much of the family's funds in real estate.

Although new members were required to turn over all their possessions and bank accounts to Love, he laughs at accusations that he lived off those resources.

"People didn't usually bring much to me. By the time they got to me, they didn't have anything left."

Gruener's wealth was a glaring exception to the rule, he said.

Love fled to Los Angeles in January 1984 with Honesty and their children, whom they feared might be taken by the state Child Protective Services.

Family scatters

With Love gone and loyalties split, about two-thirds of the family scattered into the outside world. About 40 Love supporters — including many children — moved to the Arlington ranch and another 30 followed him to Los Angeles. About 18 months later, they all regrouped in Arlington.

Many who left in turmoil decades ago still treasure their continuing family friendships and hold true to the Israel spiritual ideals.

Carnation artist Bruce Edwards, 58, who went by Imagination Israel during his 14 years with the family, remains cynical about the way Love exercised power. But he doesn't regret his own experiences and says nobody was "brainwashed."

"I don't think there were any victims," Edwards said.

"There are people who argue with me, (but) I had both eyes open. I did what I did there with pretty high intentions."

Serious Israel, a family elder since the Queen Anne era, stressed the participatory nature of the family's spiritual beliefs: Members don't blindly accept Love's teachings; they personally experience them.

The two principal leaders of the 1983 rebellion, Brian Allen and Neil Vonhof, both declined to be interviewed for this story. Allen, the son of comedian Steve Allen, managed the family's Seattle businesses and went by the name Logic Israel. Vonhof, formerly Strength Israel, ran the Arlington ranch.

Today, Allen owns 10 Windermere real-estate offices in Portland. Vonhof is a manager at Morgan Stanley's Seattle investment-banking office.

Gruener, 58, who lives on a small ranch near China Bend, remains bitter about Love. He's cynical about the family's latest bankruptcy, which he blames on Love's personal extravagances and financial decisions.

He is conflicted about his experiences with the Israel family and with Love. He says his experiences were meaningful, but he continues to feel ripped off.

"When people joined the family, they didn't join because of Love Israel. They joined because they found people who were loving and caring and beautiful and magnanimous," he said. "They devoted their lives to a family, and in exchange they weren't satisfied. I guess there was a hole in the tub."

Life in Arlington

At the Arlington ranch, Love lived in relative abundance while some members of the family still lived in small cabins and untraditional housing, such as single-story wood frames topped with yurts. The ranch's sanctuary — a lovingly converted barn — doubled as Love's home.

The main gathering space was a beautiful, high-ceilinged room with cherry-wood-inlaid maple flooring and ornamental beams of fir, arched to create a churchlike feeling. Area rugs were scattered artistically around the floor. Banners symbolizing the tribes of Judah hung from the walls.

Drapes at one end of the room opened to reveal Love's bedroom; above the doorway hung a mammoth, symbol-laden painting depicting the departure of Moses from Egypt. Musical instruments were everywhere: a grand piano, an antique harp, electric guitars and noisemakers such as drums, tambourines, maracas and bells.

An expensive Danish sound system filled the room with music. During his final weeks in the sanctuary, Love kept the same six discs randomly playing — light jazz, Pavarotti, The Band.

"That house represents all of us deciding to make Love's home our cultural center, where we put our finest craftsmanship, our most beautiful artwork, our music," Serious explained. "It's not like Love is this rich man living on the hill. It's where our action is. It's where we have all of our parties, all of our meetings. He has no privacy, really."

For years the Israel family struggled with Snohomish County to legalize its existence. Family members dreamed of creating something called Jordan Village, with homes scattered in a casual way on the hillside and around a central marketplace featuring organic produce and crafts. Cars would park on the village perimeter.

But that vision, a throwback to medieval days, didn't mesh with modern growth-management rules. The ranch is zoned for one home per five acres; most of its 10 existing structures were built illegally.

Love blames the county for the family's bankruptcy. While working to legalize Jordan Village, the family sank deeper and deeper in debt, borrowing money from several banks. Finally, the debts mounted too high and it all crashed.

Bob Drewel, who just finished 12 years as Snohomish County executive, is pragmatic about the family's development problems. It was a simple matter of obeying the rules, he said, adding that nobody deserves "special treatment."

The greater Arlington community has mixed feelings about the family, which for several years operated a popular gourmet restaurant in the city's small downtown.

The area's more conservative faction viewed the Israels with suspicion and dislike and assumed the ranch was a bastion of drug activity.

Others admired the family's commitment to an idealistic lifestyle.

"I've had very inspiring interactions with both the adults and the students there," said Irene Simpson, an Arlington High School teacher. "I feel very supportive of them as very creative and enlightened people. You won't meet any adults there who aren't intriguing."

She and Drewel, who lives outside Arlington, both stressed that Israel kids tend to be well-behaved and respectful. And both singled out a current high-school senior, New Israel, for praise.

New recently starred in the school's production of "Footloose," which Simpson directed. He also plays guitar and sings in the school's Jazzmine group.

One of Love's sons, Clean Israel, starred on the school's football team, later playing for the University of Washington.

The move east

The move to Eastern Washington entails another family split. Two households — with 10 adults and six children — are staying behind. But the Israel community is at peace with that decision.

"There's no bitterness like there was in '84," Serious said. "Even the people who are choosing a different path aren't doing it with any kind of negativity. It's almost a karmic healing process. It's bringing that divorce chapter to a close."

As he prepared to leave his home of the past 20 years, Love was stoic about his Israel experiences.

If he had to do it all over again, including the Queen Anne mess, he wouldn't change a thing. He said he's a different person now — "much more gentle" — so the question is meaningless.

"From our point of view, nothing went wrong. It all went right. We got rid of all the people who didn't believe," he said. "The ones who are still here when we have white hair and white beards, they're the ones that won the game."Diane Brooks: 425-745-7802 or dbrooks@seattletimes.com.

August 3, 2005, seattletimes.com, Elected positions can be hard to fill,_______________________________________________________________________________

October 18, 2005, seattletimes.com, Museum exhibit takes look back at tomorrow, by Diane Wright,

Skyscrapers with sidewalks in the sky. Hurricane-proof houses that pivot on their foundations. Rocket-propelled backpacks. Cars that turn into airplanes. Wars fought by robots.

This was the future — we thought.

Whether it was Disney's Tomorrowland, General Motors' Futurama exhibit at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair or the 1927 silent film "Metropolis," the future looked like unbridled progress. It was going to be streamlined living, thanks to technology.

Of course, gender roles didn't budge. The housewife stayed in the Kitchen of Tomorrow, aided by better appliances. Meanwhile, her hubby was commuting to his moon port aboard his lunar liner, briefcase in hand, in Ford Motor's series called "Life in the Year 2000," done in 1956.

The Museum of Snohomish County History will open "Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future" at 1 p.m. Saturday for an eight-week run. Created by the Smithsonian Institution, it sketches a world of robots, nuclear-powered cars and underground houses safe from atomic bombs.

Everett is the final stop on the Smithsonian's national tour, which began in 2001. The exhibit includes reproductions, photos and three-dimensional artifacts. A Microsoft flight-simulation program enables people to see what it feels like to fly with a jet pack.

A movie by Barry Levinson also goes with the exhibit and will run continually on video during the show. In the production, John Waters, Spalding Gray, Fran Leibowitz, Philip Johnson, Octavia Butler, Ralph Nader, Bob Newhart, Dick Gregory and Matt Groening are just a few of the famous people answering a question: "What's tomorrow going to be like?"

Kiosks will explore "themes that we were sold years ago that depict the future," museum director Eric Taylor said.

"Finding the Future" deals with imagination and popular culture expressed in novels, radio and films.

"The Home of Tomorrow" describes the home as "a machine for living," though "gender roles and social relations stayed the same," Taylor said. "It just shows that even though they could imagine fantastic inventions, they couldn't get out of their own social pattern."

"Transportation of Tomorrow" celebrates futuristic vehicles such as the Aerocar, a combination automobile and aircraft.

Taylor will localize the show with a section called "Back to the Future in Snohomish County." For example, did you know a monorail was planned in the county in 1910 and that construction even began?

"I've put up a timeline that covers the first century of Snohomish County, that goes from 1855 to 1955," Taylor said. "We talk about the changing history of the county, as well as the nation and the world."

Edmonds resident Charles LeWarne, the author of "Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885-1915," will discuss local utopian communities Oct. 30 at the Everett Public Library as part of a related lecture series. He noted that the Northwest has a long history of communal societies, from Skagit County's Equality Colony in 1897 to the modern-day Love Israel family.

"It was the idealism of the people that established them," LeWarne said, and it was a "struggle" to maintain the communities.

The local Smithsonian exhibit was applied for three years ago through Humanities Washington, a nonprofit that provides cultural and educational programs throughout the state.

Everett's and Snohomish County's planning departments have lent past and present community plans and renderings. Boeing gave a matching grant to Humanities Washington for the exhibit, and the Snohomish County Public Utility District and Snohomish County Public Works Department are helping sponsor teacher workshops.

The Friends of the Everett Public Library will host the lectures and a free science-fiction film festival.

"The idea that I'm trying to get across is that we're always planning for the future," Taylor said. "And the future arrives, whether we want it to or not."

December 27, 2005, seattletimes.com, From commune to camp, by Diane Brooks, Times Snohomish County Bureau


Noah Zeichner sings during a two-day event in July that let visitors check out the site of a camp that will serve Jewish congregations from around the Northwest. Standing at right is Daniel Weiner, the senior rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle.


The Union for Reform Judaism's new camp was formerly the home of spiritual leader Love Israel, above, and his followers.

Construction of their $19.2 million summer camp outside Arlington won't get under way until the winter rains cease. But hundreds of Jewish youths already are in love with Camp Kalsman, being built on the former Love Israel property to serve congregations from five states and British Columbia.

Future campers, counselors and their families had a chance to explore the wooded 300-acre site in July during a two-day event that drew visitors from as far away as Tacoma and Bellingham.

"It was just incredible to see them," said Miriam Bensky, the camp's Seattle-based development director.

"They ran into friends they hadn't seen in a while, walking around with their arms around each other, sitting on patches of grass here and there, walking through the trees, checking out this place they can call their own."

The camp plans to open in summer 2007 and host kids from Alaska to Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

The Union for Reform Judaism bought the Israel ranch for $4.2 million in December 2003, after the charismatic spiritual leader fell into bankruptcy. Israel and about 70 followers had lived at the rural sanctuary since their original 300-member community on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle broke up in the 1980s.

Now the Israel "family" is scattered geographically. Some households remained in the Arlington area when the group moved from its latest communal home in spring 2004. Others moved to Stevens County, where some Israel family members already had homes. Love Israel and about 40 immediate family members and other followers have settled into a quiet neighborhood northeast of Lake Washington.

Israel requested that his exact location remain private but said his new neighborhood had welcomed him.

"That's the true revelation of God, isn't it? Love your neighbor as yourself," Israel said.

The national Jewish organization, formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, had searched for more than two years for a new campground property. The group already operates 12 camps in the U.S. and Canada, but the nearest for Pacific Northwest families is in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Leaders were thrilled to discover the Israel site. During a visit in early 2004, they wandered the land and envisioned tennis courts, soccer fields, a gym, an Olympic-size pool, a cultural center, a dining hall and camper villages spread across the open spaces and along Butterfly Lake.

"We can build a beautiful camp here," pronounced Arie Gluck, a Philadelphia-based consultant for the organization.

The Israel community had run afoul of development laws during its decades on the property, building many homes, mostly quite modest, without permits. The Hebrew group has razed virtually everything, including Love Israel's personal sanctuary, leaving only a beautiful, nearly complete building that the Israel family had planned to operate as an inn.

Finishing work is under way on that structure, which will be used as a year-round conference center for Jewish adults.

The camp is named after the late Lee and Irving "Red" Kalsman of Los Angeles, whose estate donated $5 million for the land purchase and related expenses. Donations from other families and foundations have raised $13.3 million more toward development, said Bensky, the development director.

The camp will serve 35 congregations affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, said its senior vice president, Rabbi Lennard Thal. It initially will open with two camper villages and a capacity for 240 youths; a second phase will add a third camper village. When complete, the camp will have room for about 500 youths, counselors and other staff members, Thal said.

Love Israel and his followers were good stewards of the land, Thal said, and now Jewish youths will learn similar values when they visit.

"The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," Thal said, quoting Psalms 24:1.

"One of the things we intend to do with this camp is teach our youngsters certain values from the Jewish traditions. Ultimately, we are tenants of this land — whether we are talking about taking care of the [Israel family's] grape arbor or the fruit trees or the mountain or the lake.

"It's a great opportunity to teach about the relationship between the people and the Earth. What better place than the Pacific Northwest to convey that kind of education?

July 4, 2007, seattletimes.com, Water district gets council OK
...a proposed development north of Arlington. Now, developers, including Noah Israel, associated with the former Love Israel commune in Arlington, are moving forward with plans to get a 34-home rural subdivision approved by the county hearing...

January 31, 2009, seattletimes.com, Seattle tribute band's ultimate tribute: re-creating Beatles on the roof,
.performance on a Beatles video anthology. "These guys sound great," he said, of Crème Tangerine. Beside him, Love Israel, 68, of Bothell, called it "beautiful." "Everyone feels the old feeling of love they felt in the '60s

September 13, 2009, seattletimes.com, "The Love Israel Family:" a new history of Seattle's Love Israel commune, by Carol M. Ostrom,
Author/historian Charles P. LeWarne has produced a new history of the Love Israel family, a controversial utopian commune with its roots in Seattle. Le Warne will discuss his book this month at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, and Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle.
"The Love Israel Family: Urban Commune, Rural Commune", by Charles P. LeWarne,

University of Washington Press, 312 pp., $24.95

Love Israel oversaw a Seattle commune that once had 350 members.

The author of "The Love Israel Family" will discuss his book at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Free (206-366-3333; 
thirdplacebooks.com). He will appear at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co. Free (206-624-6600; elliottbaybook.com).
When an author writes a book with the "cooperation" of its subjects, it's fair game for a skeptical approach by a reporter-reviewer, particularly this one, whose articles are cited in the book's footnotes.

Cooperation brings access and information, but it can also breed sympathy and indebtedness. In turn, that can lead to a less-than-honest look at the "warts," as Charles P. LeWarne refers to the dark chapters in the history of the Love Family, a long-lasting, locally based commune that included as many as 350 members before it blew apart.

I turned first to a chapter entitled "Breaking up is hard to do" in "The Love Israel Family" to see if he had skimped on the goods. They were there: the cocaine, the sex, the sexism, the power-that-corrupts. Even so, LeWarne, a historian of utopian and communal societies, isn't judgmental; he likes his subjects, those "extremely pleasant and enjoyable people."

In 1968 on Queen Anne Hill, the Love Family gathered around the spiritual revelations and considerable charisma of Paul Erdmann, a 28-year-old, German-born former television salesman fresh from the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

After a golden-cloud and "translucent-stone" vision on a bus ride through Texas, the intense, intuitive Erdmann renamed and remade himself as Love Israel, the latter name meaning "children of God," as well as a play on "love is real."

The psychedelic-inspired revelations of transcendent love reported by Love and other family members may seem fake, even trite in today's consuming, me-first culture. LeWarne attempts to give context: a time of great inspiration (JFK, affluence, civil rights) followed by great disillusionment (Vietnam, Nixon, assassinations, worldwide upheavals).

His text, while sometimes chronologically confusing, is well documented and readable, an intimate look at an intentional family of more than 35 years.

Left for the reader to decide is whether Love Israel was — is — a charming, gifted con man or a genuine seeker — even a prophet. Serious Israel, an educated, articulate follower who became Love's spokesman and often apologist, compares him to Moses and Joseph Smith. On the con-man side: Convincing others that he had received the nod directly from God got Love lots of goodies: a luxurious home, fine clothes, good drugs and rights to bed the family's women.

Those who found Love's visions of faith and family compelling included entertainer Steve Allen's son, Brian, who became Logic Israel and one of the group's "elders." Like many other commune members, he was sincerely searching for community, for connection, for true spirituality. Logic, quoted from his father's book, "Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults," tells about how he saw himself and Jesus Christ in Love's face; Love had the same experience, he added. "We did this several times, until it was totally clear that God is love, that we are One, that Jesus Christ is real, that the real part of me and you is loving, forgiving... "

But in the mid-1980s, when the family's children were going without shoes and books as Love lived a high life, Logic helped lead a rebellion and the family fractured. Richness Israel, whose holdings had helped fund the family, demanded his money back, and Love lost the Queen Anne compound amid nasty legal battles. Love and a small group fled to Arlington where they built a rural paradise, opened a restaurant and hatched grander plans. Mired in debt, that effort failed, too, and in 2004 family members scattered, but for a small constellation around the still-charismatic Love.

"In his late sixties at the time I write, Love Israel remains tall, handsome, athletic in appearance, casually but well dressed, intelligent and articulate," LeWarne tells us. "As he talks, you sense that you and only you are important to him at that moment, that you have his full attention, and that he truly cares about you and what you say. ."

Serious Israel, in a heartfelt afterward to the book, reminds readers that "just because God chooses a man to be a leader among men, this does not make him more perfect in all his ways." Looking forward, he maintains that "the essence" of the family's culture has not been lost. The final chapter in the family's history, it seems, has yet to be written.

Carol M. Ostrom, a writer for Pacific Northwest magazine, covered the Love Israel story for The Seattle Times in the mid-1980s.

October 4, 2009, seattletimes.com, Elliott Bay Book Co. buyers like Jane Goodall,

Current best-sellers at Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., Seattle; 206-624-6600


1. Hope for Animals and Their World, Jane Goodall
2. The Invisible Mountain, Carolina De Robertis
3. The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons
4. The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
5. The Love Israel Family, Charles P. LeWarne

December 20, 2009, seattletimes.com, Lighten your footprint by sharing,
...sharing, members of Seattle's most famous commune, the Love Israel Family, charted a course right into the eye of the hurricane...in the 1960s by the family's charismatic founder, Love Israel, family members shared everything — everything. "One...

September 30, 2012, seattletimes.com, Granger brickyard is one of Yakima Valley's hidden stories,
Local News ...into apartments along with a mobile-home park. The Love Israel family, a Seattle-based commune, also owned the property...created by a former television salesman who called himself Love Israel, eventually collapsed in internal disputes and a lawsuit...

October 4, 2013, seattletimes.com, Spirit of the Love Israel family lives on in condos,
Home and Garden ...find herself living in the former Love Israelcompound. Now known as The Garden...of Love, 1968. Erdmann became Love Israel. His followers, “the family...The next owner after the whole Love Israel thing (the breakup, in the early...

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