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We Wanted The Truth And We Found It
By Nechami Gold

If you were to meet mrs. Daniella shefi of Chaifa you would find it hard to believe that she was not always Jewish * today, she and her husband Doron practice holistic medicine and spread the besuras ha’Geula among the residents of Chaifa * a fascinating and unusual account of a couple from Chaifa


“I was born in Zagrad, Yugoslavia and named Ivanka.” Daniella Shefi begins her story with a pronounced German accent. “When I was 5 or 6 years old we moved to Germany, where I spent most of my childhood. I was not born Jewish. My parents were simple people. I had not heard about Jews, and I did not know any Jews nor did we talk about them. The first time I heard about Jews was when my mother spoke about the war. Her mother had died young, and thanks to a Jewish neighbor who brought the family food every day, the children survived. My mother conveyed this message to me: a Jew is a good person.

“I had to deal with the topic of the Jewish nation when I was ten years old, as a student in a German school. We were studying the Holocaust, and as part of the curriculum, we watched documentaries on the concentration camps, the labor camps, and all the suffering. This moved me greatly, to the point of tears.

“I have a picture etched in my mind of Jews dressed as prisoners, all skin and bones, while strong, healthy Germans stood there smirking alongside their guard dogs. I thought, ‘G-d, should this happen again, ch’v, let me be on the side of the Jews.’”

Ivanka was the only one who felt this way, as her classmates remained unaffected by the terrible sights they saw. “They sat there eating, laughing, and making jokes,” says Daniella sorrowfully. “I don’t think the films affected them at all.”

Daniella paused for a moment, and gazed out the window. Outside, the green fields, Carmel mountains and blue sea were a pastoral scene. “Yes, there too, in Germany, the villages were well-tended and beautiful, yet I just didn’t feel comfortable. I lived among Germans and felt like a stranger.”

At first Daniella thought her sense of loneliness stemmed from the difficulties in adapting to a new country, but when she returned to her childhood home in Yugoslavia, she felt alien there as well. “I felt removed and cut off wherever I went.”

She remembers an episode that epitomizes this feeling. “I once went out to play, but my friends didn’t want to play with me, saying, “Get out of here, you gypsy.” I went home mortified, resolving to learn German quickly so I would have friends. I sat and studied and it helped somewhat.

“At the age of 12 it was clear to me that I was cut off from my people, and that I would have to seek a new nation I would feel connected to. Although I was so young, I was absolutely certain that there must be a country somewhere in the world for me, where I would belong.”

At a later stage, Daniella began her search for “meaning and light.” Her husband, Doron, corrected her, “Not light, but the path of truth,” but she insisted, “It’s light. I say light because I know good and well what darkness is all about.”

She had felt that something essential was missing in her life. Every so often she would ask her friends whether they felt as she did. Were they also missing something? “I would ask them, hoping that somebody would understand me, ‘Don’t you feel the darkness?’ but they answered, ‘What darkness are you talking about? You have a job and an apartment, so what do you lack?’”

Eventually Daniella’s life story became intertwined with Doron’s story.

Doron was born in Chaifa. He was raised in a good home, Zionist but not religious. He was an outstanding athlete who played for the Israeli water volleyball team, and was even the national school champion in physical fitness. At 17 he was the Israeli swimming champion, a natural athlete.

In 5732 (1972) he was chosen to be a member of the Israeli Olympic team being sent to Munich, but in the end he decided to enlist in the army and to forego the Olympics. This decision saved his life, for that was the year that the Israeli Olympic team was murdered.

Following Doron’s release from the army after the Yom Kippur War, he studied economics in university. At this point he decided to search for the meaning of life. He and a friend spent two years touring Europe, where they were street musicians. He finally returned to Cologne in Germany where he opened a nightclub that became the most popular spot in Germany. The aristocracy of Germany frequented his nightclub, as did artists, actors, musicians and even the German consul himself.

When Daniella was 23, she dropped into the club and saw a group of Jews sitting and talking together. One of those people was Doron. She began working at the club. In time, the club folded because one of the partners pulled out.

Daniella: Throughout the period that we spent our time at the nightclub, we spoke constantly about philosophical matters. The idea of a Creator came up, too. I had been educated that there is a Ruler of the world, and strangely enough, it was I who had to convince Doron about this.

We had various questions, such as “Why are we alive? Why was the world created? What is the purpose of life? Where is G-d and why don’t we see Him?” We had these questions because we thirsted for spirituality and weren’t getting it.

Doron: We realized that we were on a search for the truth. Daniella once told me that if you are really seeking the truth, bear in mind that when you find it, it will obligate you. Later on, after we moved to Eretz Yisroel and I began understanding what Judaism is about, R’ Reuven Dunin chastised me and said, “It seems to me that you live quite peacefully with G-d – as long as He doesn’t get involved in your life.” It was true, because I did great when it came to religion, as long as I didn’t feel it obligated me in any way.

Daniella: The questions didn’t stop coming. The problem was, where were we to get any answers? So we decided to search in India, the capitol of mysticism. We went around to various temples, and had a bookcase full of books on various disciplines. We examined and mastered every spiritual path. But one day Doron said, “Leave me alone with all this. I know where the truth is — with Torah and Judaism; everything we see here is lies.”

Actually, I really loved the atmosphere in India. I loved the closeness to nature, and I even enjoyed the rituals in the temples, but deep within me I knew that Doron was right. This wasn’t it. We turned our backs on the India and returned to Germany.

From that point on, the road to Judaism was clear. One of Daniella’s first encounters with Judaism was on Pesach night with Doron and a group of Israelis. “I sat with them at the set table and saw the kiddush cup and the tablecloth with Jewish letters, and wanted to cry. I sensed that I was seeing something pure and holy. I knew it was holy, even if I didn’t know what holiness was. It wasn’t intellectual, but something far deeper than that.

“Even later on, when the rabbinate asked me why I wanted to convert, I didn’t have a rational reason, because it wasn’t an intellectual decision but an inner yearning.

“We met other people like ourselves, with the same doubts and internal struggles, and we became a group of ten. We were very close despite our differences. There was Alex, a Russian who grew up in Eretz Yisroel and moved to Germany. There was Robert from Australia who had also emigrated to Germany, and someone else from South America, Marcos, who was originally from Germany. Vicky was a Jew from Romania. We met nearly every evening and discussed philosophical issues. We grappled with the question of the essence of existence.

“One day we were visited by an Israeli friend named Sammy, whom we hadn’t seen in three years. He was a real intellectual. When we opened the door, how surprised we were to see him wearing a kippa, with a beard, and weird strings hanging out of his shirt. When he came we had deep discussions about religion and faith. We realized Sammy had something we lacked. Sammy had G-d.

“He opened a Tanach and began reading the first verse, ‘In the beginning G-d created.’ Then he explained the verse. He sat there for hours, explaining it all to us. We were amazed as we suddenly saw someone with a serious answer for every question. His quick visit lasted three days.

“After he left, we felt our entire inner world turning over. We realized that G-d is truth and that Torah from Heaven was true, as well. All ten of us did teshuva over the years; the three gentiles in our group including myself converted; Marcos is married to a Lubavitcher and lives in the south of Eretz Yisroel. He threw himself into Torah and Yiddishkeit and today he is a walking Shulchan Aruch.”

Doron: Before Sammy returned to Eretz Yisroel he said to me, “Learn Rambam and you’ll understand everything.” I visited Eretz Yisroel a month later. I went into a bookstore and asked for all the Rambam’s works. He brought me Sh’moneh Prakim, Moreh Nevuchim, and a few other philosophical works. I had them all wrapped up and was about to leave the store when I noticed a small yellow book that cost three shekel. I figured it was cheap enough and bought that too.

I returned to Germany and one day I took the small book, called Chovos HaLevavos, and began to read it. I found it fascinating. I read it over a period of three months, line by line, and was captivated by it. Studying it wasn’t easy but each word was important. I read a sentence and had a question, and then the next sentence contained the answer. The author built a logical structure of truth brick by brick. It’s like when you learn a maamer of the Rebbe and you feel and know that it is utter truth. After reading Chovos HaLevavos, I was ready for the next step: putting it into practice.

Daniella: Doron was changing before my very eyes. He changed completely. I kept asking him what it said in the book, but he only responded briefly and excitedly, “What can I say – there is a G-d!” That was the line I heard all those months. One morning I got up and saw Doron standing in the living room. I was very moved because I saw him wearing a tallis and tefillin.

The Shefis decided to move to Eretz Yisroel. They realized that they belonged there, and from that point on, things seemed beyond their control. Three months after the transformation found them in Eretz Yisroel right in the middle of the Gulf War.

Daniella realized she belonged to the Jewish people. Her thoughts and hesitation ripened into a decision. As soon as she arrived in Eretz Yisroel, they began looking into conversion. Though the path was replete with good intentions, it was difficult nonetheless. “It involved trials and tribulations,” recalls Daniella with a sigh. “For months we were dragged around until the conversion was completed. You can say we got through the process on merit, not kindness.

Despite their interest in Judaism, they still had questions and inner doubts. Leaving their radical lifestyle for a life of restrictive Judaism was extremely challenging. 

Daniella: Doron took our questions from place to place, looking for answers. He went from rav to rav, and each one explained things by bringing proofs from the Gemara and the Midrash, but we felt it just wasn’t it. Doron said, “These Midrashim are nice, and this is how our fathers lived, but how does it suit me?” He visited Chassidim and Misnagdim and went to Tzfat and Yerushalayim. It was a really difficult process.

One day someone sent Doron to R’ Reuven Dunin. “Go to him and he’ll straighten everything out.”

Doron: I went to Rav Dunin and he began to talk to me man to man, in my language. After I got it over the head from him the first time, I went back. I just had to go back to him. I suddenly realized that the Torah wasn’t in the heavens, but here on earth. It was then that I learned that the only way to connect to G-dliness is through the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation.

Unfortunately, I never met the Rebbe. This was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Reuven had told me, “Doron, take your bags and go to the Rebbe. When he looks at you one time, you’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation and problems.” I was just so confused from my searching that I didn’t want to leave Eretz Yisroel, so I lost out.

* * *

Today Daniella and Doron are involved in natural healing using the remedies of Dr. Bach. They see hundreds of patients in their clinic in Chaifa, which is called Refua Sh’leima. These patients have given up on traditional medicine and on conventional doctors. They all come to try natural healing.

Daniella: In conclusion, I want to say that I know that we will soon see the Rebbe. How do I know? From the same inner feeling with which I knew in the German school that the Jewish nation is chosen amongst all the nations. My feelings haven’t misled me yet!


“Know Him In All Your Ways”

The Shefi family has a clinic where they diagnose ailments in a most unique way and offer workshops on the topic of Bach (homeopathic) flower remedies.

Daniella: When a person comes in with a problem, it is not always possible to identify its true source. According to Chinese medicine, there are complete maps of the meridians, which are channels of energy which pass throughout the body and end in the fingertips.

Sometimes there might be an intestinal problem, for example, and it is expressed in a headache. How can you know the problem is not in the head but in the blockage of the energy channel that belongs to the stomach? This is what holistic medicine is about. It treats the whole person and not just a specific symptom. We search throughout the body for the source of the problem.

When a patient comes to us, we diagnose the source of the problem through a special instrument. This instrument helps us arrive at the correct diagnosis, which means half the battle is won. The energies disrupting the natural energy of the body are electromagnetic waves which can be measured by this instrument. It absorbs the positive energy of the body, and transforms the negative energy 180 degrees before it returns to the body. This way, the negative energy is weakened and the body becomes healthy again.

What are the Bach remedies?

They are homeopathic remedies which are derived from flowers. The approach is based on the awareness that most illnesses and physical disturbances in the body originate in an internal aberration deriving from one’s psychological state. Psychological disorders such as depression and phobias are actually blockages of energy which prevent one’s psyche from expressing itself. Every negative thought only makes the blockage worse. These patients don’t have any physical pathology, so they require a treatment on the same elemental plane, in the realm of energy.

That is the secret to the Bach remedies, which do not contain a single drop of the material essence of the flowers, just the energy waves which emanate from the spirit of the plant or flower. Each of the thirty-eight preparations has the ability to naturally open the blocked energy pathways that also cause physical symptoms.

How did you get involved in this?

A few years ago my daughter had skin allergies. When we went to a doctor, he said it was an allergic reaction to coldness, and he forbade her to drink anything cold, swim in a pool, or to touch cold things. Rules like this for a child are like being in prison. I wondered how she could have gotten such an allergy and finally figured that it happened as a result of my distancing myself from her a little bit and not having provided her with sufficient maternal warmth. That’s when I realized that her allergy to cold wasn’t to physical cold but to a spiritual coldness.

I told her that whenever she feels cold she should come to me for a big hug. At first she would come every few minutes and ask for warmth, and I gave it to her generously. I wasn’t surprised when shortly thereafter her allergy disappeared.

That’s when I realized that every physical malady has an inner-soul significance which it conceals, and every inner-soul problem can be cured with the same approach. I began to look into this until I discovered natural healing for the soul.

At that time, this type of healing was unavailable in Eretz Yisroel. Over the years we have gotten more and more patients because of the success we have had. Word gets around that there is an approach that helps where traditional medicine cannot. We have had famous doctors among our patients too, and they even send their patients to us.

Where did you learn this discipline?

Partly in Germany and partly here in Eretz Yisroel, and I am still learning. It is completely undeveloped here.


As Chassidim of the Rebbe, the Shefi couple combines their work with Yiddishkeit. “I tell every Jew who comes here,” says Daniella, “to give tzedaka before treatment. Many of them leave here with the book Towards a Meaningful Life by Simon Jacobson, which delineates the Rebbe’s teachings on many subjects.

“We give over quite a bit of Chassidus in our lectures about the Bach flowers. The entire foundation of Bach’s approach is sourced in Chassidic ideas, but we don’t tell them what the source is. We quote Dr. Bach and many other doctors and experts and people are greatly impressed.

“We get extremely intelligent people coming to our lectures, who are receptive to healing, energy, atmospheres, Shiatzu, Chinese, and Indian medicine and anything you can dream of. The minute you would say a word about Yiddishkeit, though, they would get up and ask you suspiciously, ‘You want to make us into baalei teshuva?’ This is because everything a Jew does is by free choice, but the minute it comes to Yiddishkeit and he has to do what Hashem wants him to do, he is unwilling to commit to that.

“The same thing holds true for Moshiach. We learned that if you address it simply, it’s accepted simply. For example, a while back I lectured at the Rotary Club before a group of doctors and I concluded the lecture by saying, ‘Doctor have permission from Heaven to heal, and this is their source of power. I am an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who said we should put a pushka in every vehicle.’ There were many pushkas on the table and everybody took one. Nobody asked questions or grumbled, because when you speak simply, what you say is accepted.”


G-d Assists Those Who Come To Purify

“We once sat and farbrenged with Reuven Dunin,” relates Doron, “and among other things, he spoke about how those who wish to truly turn their lives around completely must make a complete break from their past. He turned to one of the people there and asked him whether he still had pictures of his earlier years. When the person said he did, Reuven commented, “You see that, you cannot cut yourself off entirely from your past…”

The truth is that we too had many pictures and newspaper clippings from the past. Before we left Germany, we left behind a bundle of papers along with the rest of our furniture in the basement of the house we had lived in.

Yet Reuven Dunin’s words reached us. After that farbrengen, I wondered how I could destroy all those pictures. The next day, I received an urgent call from a friend in Germany who told me that the Rhine River had overflowed and flooded the streets, and our basement had flooded and all our things had been ruined. So much for my pictures.


I sensed that I was seeing something pure and holy. I knew it was holy, even if I didn’t know what holiness was. It wasn’t intellectual, but something far deeper than that.




Reuven had told me, “Doron, go to the Rebbe.” I was just so confused from my searching that I didn’t want to leave Eretz Yisroel, so I lost out.


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