Find your center

A short guide to the capital's complementary health scene.

yoga meditation 88  (photo credit: )
yoga meditation 88
(photo credit: )
Holistic centers are growing in popularity and number in Jerusalem. The term "holistic" derives from the word "whole" and refers to treating the entire body as opposed to just the symptoms of a particular illness. These centers do not minimize the value and necessity of allopathic medicine (often referred to as Western medicine), where doctors are the professionals who treat disease; rather, the centers complement one's healing process with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and a host of other more recently discovered modalities. To understand all the terms, one may need a dictionary or the Internet to fully define the scope of the meanings. Suffice it to say that alternative methods of healing were once part of the mainstream, but only some were effective in bringing about health. In Jerusalem, there are several holistic health centers that are off the beaten path - which makes finding them all the more exciting. Merkaz Edna 37 Pierre Koenig Tel: 679-0646 Web site: Merkaz Edna is a center that has a wide range of therapists available for appointments. There is an emphasis on the mind and body connection and how the variety of modalities conducted by certified body workers and experienced professional therapists is available in a safe place for people to process pain in its many forms. Batya Neumann has been the manager of the center in Talpiot for over a year. Her specialty is working with those with learning disabilities. At Merkaz Edna, she is one of more than 25 types of behavioral specialists, massage therapists and other healing practitioners that work with such modalities as music, touch and speech. "It is all about matching the therapy and the therapist with the client," Neumann notes. "I have worked in healing all types of people from students to the elderly, and my experiences culminated at Merkaz Edna. I believe that the mind and the body have the ability to heal themselves, but sometimes (most times) we just need some help to get things moving." Merkaz Edna also has workshops on a variety of topics. "We are still flowing and growing, but ultimately it is about quality of life, and those who seek to improve it can find health here," says Neumann. Nekudat Maga 3 Azza Tel: 566-4155 ( One enters the Nekudat Maga ("contact point") multidisciplinary center by walking up candlelit stairs (on nights of special events) to its circular reception area, from which emanate nook and cranny practitioner rooms with a larger room for Pilates. Boaz Colodner, trained in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, founded Nekudat Maga three years ago. He explains, "This place is about healing through complementary medicine, which at our center includes tuina (traditional Chinese massage), acupuncture, herbal treatments and nutritional counseling, including an iridologist and lessons in Pilates. We often suggest using these techniques in tandem for a holistic approach to life." A host of holistic practitioners are on hand to provide their expertise when requested. Libi Center 5 King George Ave. Web site: Mirella Van Staveren, who had suffered serious illness in her life and made a full recovery through alternative therapies, started the Libi Center as a haven for healing. Six months ago, her life plans changed again for the positive and she found Moran Cohen to be the best candidate to continue her vision for the center. Just walking into the small but ample space that is the Libi ("my heart") Center, one feels relaxed. With her personal touch Cohen has created warmth in the reception room, which has couches and a table and simple décor. The large windows in the tranquil kitchen look out onto lush greenery, complete with a palm tree and birds, just off a main thoroughfare in downtown Jerusalem! Cohen explains, "I teach Vipassana meditation, a form of meditation that I learned in Thailand and have practiced for many years. I instruct it once a week; but as interest grows, more classes will become available." She also runs weekly classes of dancing meditation - Kundalini - which inspires through movement, and she recently started a workshop on massage. "Our calendar is constantly changing," she says. Workshops include EFT, a tapping technique used to reduce and eliminate anxiety; NLP, neurolinguistic programming, a method for understanding the hard-wired brain; and guest lecturers who speak on such topics as spirituality and self-development. The calendar is full of events geared to reducing stress. "We offer classes in yoga as well," says Cohen. Shalva Clinic 3 Yannai Tel: 622-1774 Web site: Yonatan Weiner and Moshe Gordon are the brains and brawn of the Shalva Clinic in downtown Jerusalem. They not only promote healing through acupuncture and Chinese medicine healing by Weiner and reflexology and nutrition counseling by Gordon, but they also have an herbal tea bar where Gordon brews up a batch of leaves, roots and flowers to help what ails you. The tea may or may not be sweetened with stevia (a naturally sweet plant). Weiner leads workshops on the value of acupuncture and other alternative health topics. As healing sessions involve touch, a female masseuse is also on staff for those who request it. Their center opened this year as an eco-labor of love. It comes as no surprise that the center has a soft green hue, as these two are all about reusing and recycling and generally thinking green. "The upstairs kitchen staff area is made from reused planks of wood and an old door," Weiner points out. "We use the kitchen sink water (gray water) to water our plants," he says. Gordon adds, "Our refillable teabags were made with ecology in mind, and the tea packages are made with biodegradable cellulose bags, so we are very environmental." For a taste of what goes on at these havens, you can attend a workshop, a class, or get a massage to help assuage the stress and rigors of daily life. Or if you have a problem you want to tackle head on, you can meet with the manager of one of these places and set up an appointment with someone who can assist you.