Simeon Asher, who came here with his wife Galina and sons Gideon, 6, and Benjamin, 4, nearly three years ago, thinks there are three keys to a successful aliya, which his undoubtedly is.
“One, you should have low expectations; two, a good sense of humor; and three, you should understand that every Jew truly believes in his absolute heart of hearts that the rules don’t apply to him, that they are basically guidelines for someone else.”
If you accept number three, for instance, you won’t get so upset by the lack of respect for the rules.
A successful osteopath, Asher left a booming practice in London to which he still returns for one week a month, and opened a new practice in Ra’anana which has really taken off.
“Osteopathy is great for the Israeli market,” he says. “It’s effective, can be as short as two to four sessions and it’s an alternative natural therapy.”
Asher has developed a unique treatment for the unpleasant condition known as frozen shoulder which he says is very effective. In England his client list includes dozens of well known celebrities and high-profile politicians. A photograph of Sacha Baron Cohen in Ali G. mode stands on a shelf in one of his clinics. It is inscribed “muff respect – to the MacDaddy of de shoulders.”
“I knew Sacha before he became famous,” says Asher. “I’ve watched his star ascend.”
Another photo is of George Michael, a longtime patient,
“I went on tour with him and looked after his back,” reminisces Asher. “But when I was asked to take care of the Spice Girls, Galina wouldn’t agree.”FAMILY BACKGROUND
Asher grew up in London and until 23 he was not religiously observant. In fact he attended a Church of England school where a fellow student was Nasser Hussein, England’s former cricket captain. He found religion through Lubavitch, just before he met Galina and they married in 1994.LIFE BEFORE ALIYA
He studied osteopathy, partly influenced in his choice of career by a family connection to Sidney Roseneil, the pioneer of the science in England, and became highly proficient, teaching and lecturing around the world on his speciality of techniques to cure frozen shoulder. He had promised Galina when they married that within 10 years they would move to Israel. She had lived here as a young woman and had worked in Tel Aviv, managing the Body Shop there.
After 10 years of marriage, Gideon was born and two years later, Benjamin. On a visit here in 2007, they had dinner with friends and in the taxi on the way back they looked at each other and said “Let’s do it.”
Looking back on the decision, Asher says, “You can't really explain it if your heart brings you here.”UPON ARRIVAL
They came through Nefesh B’Nefesh, which was very helpful, and rented a house in Ra’anana to find out if they really wanted to live there. When they were shown their present house with a view to buying, they knew it was perfect. It had a separate entrance for the clinic and all the facilities he needed to set up his business.WORK
For a little more than a week in every month Asher goes back to London
and somehow sees as many as 155 patients in the time he’s there. The
rest of the month is spent here, where Galina efficiently runs the
practice in his Back Into Shape clinic. He has several consulting and
examining rooms and has a physiotherapist attached to the practice.ROUTINE
“I try to start the day by going to synagogue in the morning if I can,”
he says. “I work from 8:20 to 1:40, then have the afternoon free to be
with the family and start again at 4:30 until late.”LANGUAGE
He takes Hebrew in private lessons because having started work almost
immediately, he had no time for the usual route of absorption center
He says he manages fine in his work and other situations, but has a way to go until his Hebrew is fluent. CIRCLE
Friends come from the English-speaking community and the synagogue.
They have also made Israeli friends through their children and through
“When you are here and live a Jewish life, it’s completely different
from being abroad. There it’s almost like a practice for the real
thing. In some ways being Jewish here is less compulsive.”PLANS
He hopes eventually to reduce the time spent in London and is planning
to open an osteopathy clinic in Tel Aviv with friend and longtime
immigrant Michael Murgraff, also from London.FEELINGS ABOUT ISRAEL
“When we think of our aliya, it’s been literally that, a going up and a
wonderful experience that has surpassed all expectations,” says Asher.
“Israelis don’t appreciate what they’ve got here, because they didn’t
choose to live here the way we did.
“Living in England you are obsessed with news about Israel, and being
here you have released yourself from that whole narrative. Israel only
really makes sense when you’re here.”