Arrivals: The doctor is in

Simeon Asher, 40 From London to Ra’anana

simeon asher 311 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
simeon asher 311
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
For a little more than a week in every month Asher goes back to Londonand somehow sees as many as 155 patients in the time he’s there. Therest of the month is spent here, where Galina efficiently runs thepractice in his Back Into Shape clinic. He has several consulting andexamining rooms and has a physiotherapist attached to the practice.
“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 bewith the family and start again at 4:30 until late.”
He takes Hebrew in private lessons because having started work almostimmediately, he had no time for the usual route of absorption centerand ulpan.
He says he manages fine in his work and other situations, but has a way to go until his Hebrew is fluent.
Friends come from the English-speaking community and the synagogue.They have also made Israeli friends through their children and throughhis work.
“When you are here and live a Jewish life, it’s completely differentfrom being abroad. There it’s almost like a practice for the realthing. In some ways being Jewish here is less compulsive.”
He hopes eventually to reduce the time spent in London and is planningto open an osteopathy clinic in Tel Aviv with friend and longtimeimmigrant Michael Murgraff, also from London.
“When we think of our aliya, it’s been literally that, a going up and awonderful experience that has surpassed all expectations,” says Asher.“Israelis don’t appreciate what they’ve got here, because they didn’tchoose to live here the way we did.
“Living in England you are obsessed with news about Israel, and beinghere you have released yourself from that whole narrative. Israel onlyreally makes sense when you’re here.”