“Magical” is a word that comes up often in David Moshe’s narrative of his life.
In the summer of 2013, he and his wife, Orah, and two young children made aliya from Boca Raton, Florida.
Moshe has slowly been building up a holistic acupuncture practice (http:// drdavidmoshe.com/) at home in Pardess Hanna and in Jerusalem.
He is a doctor of Chinese medicine, a certified instructor of qigong and yoga, and has extensive training in cranio- sacral therapy, deep tissue massage, acupressure and meditation.
Growing up in Brooklyn, he was close with his grandfather, who lived around the corner and was religious. “Because of his influence, I went to a religious school when I was young and had exposure to Hebrew at an early age.”
After completing three of four years at Baruch College in New York City as a psychology and philosophy major, Moshe decided to take a break and travel to Israel to learn more about himself and the world.
“During a profound meditation session, it was revealed to me that although much of the psychology and philosophy I had been studying was interesting and inspiring, it was all theoretical. A place within me wanted the direct experience of integration and higher states of being, and I felt Israel was the perfect place to begin the search,” said Moshe.
“I went on a three-month kibbutz volunteer program, learning Hebrew half a day and working the other half of the day. And that’s when many interesting things unfolded.”
When the program ended, he felt drawn to Jerusalem, where he had a powerful religious experience. “I felt complete, like I had returned home. It was a magical epiphany.”
At the Jaffa Gate, some Diaspora Yeshiva students befriended him, “and the next thing I knew I was a student there for the next six months. It was 1979, an amazing time at the Diaspora Yeshiva.”
The world-famous Diaspora Yeshiva Band performed in public every Saturday night, and in addition to musicians the yeshiva also had students proficient in areas such as yoga, karate, macrobiotics and holistic medicine, which they were happy to share with Moshe in the hours after Talmud study.
“Many of the seeds of what I would pursue later were planted during this incredible fertile time,” he said.
“Magical gates just seemed to open; all I needed was a clear desire to learn something specific, and the teacher and circumstances appeared.”
At Hanukka, someone took him to the New Age community of Moshav Me’or Modi’im, where he met Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
“The Diaspora Yeshiva worked on my mind; Reb Carlebach opened up my heart and awakened my spirit. He taught and exemplified a way of celebrating life in an observant Jewish way. I lived in Moshav Modi’im for five months and made friends I’m still close with today. Then I came back to America and I began studying much of what I had been exposed to.”
During the summer of 1980, he got a job at the Kushi Institute macrobiotics program in Massachusetts. “God opened up all kinds of gates for me. I even found a yoga teacher who taught the same style I had learned at the Diaspora Yeshiva,” said Moshe.
He completed his degree at the University of California-Berkeley and stayed there to learn holistic healing. He studied meditative movement systems such as dance, yoga and tai chi chuan as well as body-centered therapy approaches, deep-tissue massage, shiatsu, Reichian therapy and a variety of meditation methods.
Still, he felt he lacked a comprehensive holistic framework for diagnosing patients and creating an individualized treatment program.
Moving to Boulder, Colorado, in 1984, Moshe met an Orthodox Jewish acupuncturist who took him along to a seminar at Southwest Acupuncture College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“That was another magical event with precise timing. I fell in love with Santa Fe and the school, and the next year I enrolled and learned Chinese medicine.
This filled in the missing piece I needed.
Chinese medical theory explained the harmonious interaction of body, emotions, mind and spirit. This facilitated my ability to develop a treatment strategy of acupuncture, herbs, diet and exercise, which addresses the root cause of the illness and not symptoms.”
Moshe then took a job as holistic health director at a vegetarian spa in Florida. He lectured on Eastern and Western approaches to medicine, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, taught tai chi on the beach and created a unique style of acupuncture.
“Once I insert the needles, which are designed to treat the underlying disharmony, I apply a variety of hands-on therapies that enhance the therapeutic results and transform the session into a healing experience. Most acupuncturists leave the room after needle insertion, but I work on multiple levels simultaneously.”
Deciding that he wanted to integrate his medical approach into an observant Jewish practice, he next completed a three-year rabbinic ordination program in New York, during which time he married Orah Rein, a yoga teacher with a PhD in restoration ecology. They and their two children, Mayana and Ariel – now 12 and 10, respectively – moved to the Orthodox community in Boca Raton, Florida.
There, Moshe worked again as a health director in a vegetarian spa on the beach, started an acupuncture practice and taught meditative movement and relaxation to senior citizens and high school students. He helped establish a Carlebach- style minyan there as well.
The family lived not far from Moshe’s widowed mother for the last eight years of her life.
“I wanted my children to grow up in Israel, not in America. So when my mother left this world, and our kids were seven and nine, we came here seeking a deeper, more meaningful life. We decided to settle in an up-and-coming community close to the water in Pardess Hanna,” says Moshe.
In practice since 1987, he specializes in pain relief and helping people improve their health through dietary guidance, exercise and relaxation instruction, herbal formulas and lifestyle modification.
He is writing a book on mindful Judaism, which he describes as “a mixture of meditative techniques to use for Jewish practice and hassidic stories.”
While the children acclimated quickly and are flourishing, the transition has been harder on their parents, who find the language challenging and miss having a day off on Sundays.
Nevertheless, Moshe says, “Here you feel like you are really contributing to Jewish history. It’s not something you’re just reading about.
“Judaism is becoming more spiritual and open, and the country is evolving fast. When Shabbat or a holiday comes in, you feel it. Judaism is a living, real experience for my children here, and my grandparents would be rejoicing about it. The children will fulfill a lot of the dreams of the ancestors.”