Arrivals: ‘I want to inspire people’

David Farin was so moved when he visited the country five years ago that he knew he had to come back. Three years later, his dream came true – sweetened shortly after when he met his wife while leading a tour group.

David Farin (photo credit: Courtesy)
David Farin
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A Taylor guitar was one of the few possessions that accompanied David Farin from Miami when he moved to Israel in 2010.
After all, a musician and massage therapist does not need much more than his hands and his heart.
“I had a dream where Hashem [God] told me: Pack up your stuff, sell it and move to Israel,” the 28-yearold relates. “So I woke up the next morning and started listing everything on Craigslist. I sold every single thing in my house, made a few thousand dollars and got a one-way ticket to Israel. I wanted freedom from the material world; I had one of my guitars and a suitcase with the few clothes and shoes that I hadn’t given away.”
Farin’s aliya story began when he was 21 and a recent graduate of the American Institute of Massage Therapy. For three years, he gave treatments to an elderly Holocaust survivor in his native Florida.
“This very holy woman kept telling me she wished she could live in Israel because it’s the holiest place on earth, and how important it is to live Jewish and love being Jewish. She had the scariest Holocaust stories I’d ever heard – she lost her parents, husband and children in front of her eyes – yet she had the strongest faith I’d ever seen in my life.”
Farin, who had been brought up in a traditional home but lost interest in religious school at a young age, found himself so inspired by this woman that he asked if there were others he could meet.
“She introduced me to several more survivors in Hallandale Beach, Florida, and I started an organization for getting young students to visit them,” he recalls.
“I got in contact with the local Chabad rabbi, and he started organizing meals on wheels for them.”
Inspired by his client, at age 23 Farin went to Israel on Ohr Somayach’s two-and-a-half-week Jewish Learning Experience. The JLE trip combines Torah study with travel throughout the country.
“The wisdom I picked up there was so profound that I borrowed $2,000 from a friend to extend my trip another two months,” he says. “I needed to stay in Israel, learning more.”
Upon returning to Miami, he went back to teaching music composition, guitar and voice to about 20 youngsters, and continued his massage therapy practice.
But he yearned to get back to Israel.
“I felt so strongly that I had to do something with my life there, and eventually that beautiful day came in 2010,” he recalls.
Following his dream, he arrived at Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem “to learn Torah and how to be more kind, loving, caring, patient and intuitive – all the things you need to live in Eretz Yisrael,” he says. “I went straight to the rabbi I knew from before and said, ‘I’m here.’ He smiled, gave me a hug and gave me a room.
I was in yeshiva learning eight to nine hours a day for the next year and a half.”
Love at first sight In gratitude for what the JLE program had done for him, Farin volunteered to lead groups. One day, he took his JLE tourists to the Gush Katif Museum in downtown Jerusalem.
“And lo and behold, my beautiful, amazing [future] wife walks in front of me and I was spellbound, dumbfounded.
I told my friend, ‘I just met my wife.’ He said, ‘You’re crazy, Dave,’ but I felt it in my bones with great clarity. I saw it on her face, which was shining with a certain ray of light.”
Farin went over and introduced himself to Daniella Strick, a jewelry designer who had made aliya on her own from Chicago while still in high school. She was at the museum leading a tour group from a different organization.
“I went to the rabbi running her trip and I said, ‘I play music for groups. Can I play for your group?’ and he said, ‘Sure, come over at 8 tonight.’ So I actually left my group and took a cab home, got my guitar, took a cab to Tekoa, met her group and performed there.
Afterward, Daniella came over to me and said, ‘Wow, you were really good.’ She didn’t know I’d come just to see her.”
The two talked for an hour on the bus back to Jerusalem, and agreed to meet again in the Old City.
“Our first date was 12 hours long because we couldn’t leave each other,” says Farin. They got engaged after two months and were married three months later, in November 2011, in a forest near Ness Ziona.
“I made aliya right then because Daniella helped inspire my love of Israel and Rav [Abraham Isaac] Kook, Rav [Shlomo] Carlebach and Rav Shlomo Katz. We are absolute soul mates. She’s my best friend and my teacher.”
Since their marriage, Daniella has shifted professional gears and now creates and sells decorative hair coverings and accessories.
The couple lives in a Jerusalem apartment that the Stricks bought when their daughter made aliya. “I am incredibly thankful to my amazing in-laws ‘Papa Mike’ and ‘Eemi,’ whom I love with all my heart,” says Farin.
His mother in Miami and his father in Thailand also applauded their son’s decision to live in Israel. “I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for the love and support of my mom and dad,” he says. “I am and will be forever grateful to them.”
His three brothers live in Miami. One is a family and marriage counselor, one is a website developer and professional fisherman, and the youngest is a student of physics.
Massage and music Now working as head massage therapist/director of operations for Beit Tovei Ha’ir senior citizens facility in Jerusalem, Farin is overseeing the massage therapy component of a brand new spa and health clinic being constructed on the premises.
But as much as he enjoys easing his clients’ knots and strains with his trained hands, his first love is performing his music-and-comedy Brotha Dave Show for visitors on youth trips sponsored by such institutions as Yeshiva University, Isralight, Orayta and of course, Ohr Somayach. He also performs private gigs and in 2012 recorded his first CD, Brotha Dave – LIVE WITH A SMILE .
“All my music now is based on love, happiness and tzedaka,” he says. “That is where my heart is. I want to inspire people – just me and the guitar.”
He has informally played for Taglit-Birthright participants, too. Though these performances are unofficial – for now, at least – counselors have told him that his show makes a profound change in the group’s self-awareness. When one leader asked her participants to name their favorite part of the itinerary, she told Farin, most agreed it was the Brotha Dave Show.
“Hashem really uses me as a vessel, and I can relate to these young adults because I came from where they are,” he says. “I was put on this earth to use music, comedy and love to change the world.”