To your holistic well-being

All health-giving bases seem to be covered.

On Essene Farm, an ecological health venue on Moshav Even Sapir (photo credit: SHELDON RICE)
On Essene Farm, an ecological health venue on Moshav Even Sapir
(photo credit: SHELDON RICE)
If you are going to offer the public some insight on how to improve their health, and maintain the wished-for well-being upturn, having firsthand experience can help to get the message across. Sheldon and Ginat Rice certainly have that, in spades.
From May 15 to 20 the American- born longtime Israeli resident couple will oversee a mammoth gathering at the Essene Farm, an ecological health venue on Moshav Even Sapir, just down the hill from Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.
Both 80-year-old Sheldon – to call him sprightly would be to damn with faint praise – and 65-year-old Ginat had serious bouts with cancer. They have both, thankfully, made a full recovery and looked in fine fettle when I recently met them in Tel Aviv.
The forthcoming residential conference covers a multitude of health-related topics which will all be presented in English. Participants of all religious stripes are welcome, and all the food served will have a l’mehadrin kashrut license. Prayer services will also be held, and the Rices have even obtained a Torah scroll.
All told, there will be 92 professionals on hand to impart their knowledge and experience in a wide range of fields and mind-sets, taking in such disciplines as body movement, cooking, professional medical presentations, voice therapy and homeopathy. Add practitioners of yoga, including the laughter strain, psychotherapy, various massage techniques, tai chi, energy healing and dance therapy. I suggested that the Rices appear to have practically every possible health-oriented discipline covered.
“I don’t think we have a veterinarian,” jokes Ginat.
Four-legged creatures apart, the Rices have done their best to ensure that all the forum participants will be well tended to, in addition to having their health-related horizons broadened, and are bringing over renowned macrobiotic chef Venu Sanz from Spain to keep the customers’ bodies well nourished throughout, and with nary a drop of gluten on the menu.
So how did the Rices hit on the idea of an English-language holistic health conference? “For years we had been going to [health] festivals, in the UK, Belgium and the US,” says Sheldon.
“Each year we’d say wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have something like that here. But that was it. We never got past that one sentence.”
A few months ago the fanciful idea started taking on a more realistic intent.
“This year something special happened,” Sheldon continues. “Everything came together from above. We met with a group of friends, and one of them said we have this house in Neveh Ilan, why don’t you have it there? It was a really nice place, but we could have it only for two days.” The Hebrew adage of “the hunger comes with the food” slots in neatly here. The Rices initially thought that two days would do it, and were a bit wary of going for something on a grand scale for the debut offering, but they soon discovered there was a call for a major event. “We started to advertise for presenters, and we were so overwhelmed,” Sheldon recalls. “We now have 92 presenters.”
The latter include the Rices themselves – Sheldon is a numerologist, while Ginat will deliver a slot about macrobiotic medicine. Chilean-born Becky Rothstein will, no doubt, induce a positive response from her group with her Fear Not! presentation, while Albert Simonson will endeavor to get the members of his audience moving gainfully at his Resistance Stretching workshop.
With such a loaded roster the Rices had their work cut out to try and get a coherent schedule together. “The workshops start at 7 in the morning and go on till 9:30 at night,” Sheldon notes. “The morning workshops are an hour and the afternoon ones are an hour-and-a-half.
And it won’t be all about getting one’s head and body around the practicalities of giving our well-being a boost. The five-dayer also features a bunch of top speakers, such as food editor, writer and photographer Ori Shavit. Shavit will enlighten her audience about how she made the transition from committed carnivore to passionate vegan without, as she puts it, giving up on “the pleasures of food.”
There will also be some extramural activities. “One of the classes is with a tour guide, who is going to come and lead us on hikes through the mountains,” says Ginat, adding that there is nothing passive about the planned proceedings. “I didn’t take any presenter who is just frontal. There are cooking demos and Buddy Games and all kinds of activities.” The aforesaid play slot sounds like great fun. It will be overseen by Sara Kallai, who is described as a “family worker” who leads play days and family workshops in which adults are encouraged to be active and playful, and to tailor games to the needs of the junior members of the family.
The conference should provide the attendees with a great deal of invaluable practical know-how, and there will be plenty of inspiration on offer.
That, no doubt, will prove to be a magnet for many of the participants.
“We have a lot of people coming who have healed themselves of their ailments through various methods,” notes Ginat. “We have a healing panel and we also have a vegan activist,” she says, referencing Shavit.
In truth, the kashrut supervisor should not have too tough a time making sure that all is suitable for Jewish consumption, as all the repasts will be vegan. Considering the surge in interest in veganism in Israel over the last two to three years, that should prove to be a popular component of the health forum offerings.
The almost bewilderingly varied lineup of presenters over the five days also includes something akin to a royal contributor, in the form of Charles Green.
Green is one of the world’s leading portrait photographers and, for the past 20 years, has been the official investiture photographer at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. In that capacity he has produced over 42,000 portraits of the United Kingdom’s rich and famous, including Her Majesty and other members of the royal family.
Green will contribute a couple of items at the Essene Farm. In his In Pursuit of Excellence workshops, he will advise his audience on how to go about making a favorable first impression, avoiding undesirable verbiage, and turning negative approaches into positive mind-sets, and will impart his formula for achieving happiness and success. Green will also let us in on some blooper moments in his Confessions of a Royal Photographer session, in which he takes a lighthearted look at some unguarded moments at Buckingham Palace.
With workshops on the Kabbala, the impact birth has on babies, anti-aging and migraine relief, as well as musical entertainment and freestyle therapeutic dancing, the Rices really do seem to have all health-giving bases covered.
Accommodation is available at the farm and at a B&B on the moshav. 
For tickets and more information: