Wanted The Truth And We Found It
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
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.
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.
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.’”
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.”
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
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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?’”
Daniella’s life story became intertwined with Doron’s story.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
their interest in Judaism, they still had questions and inner doubts.
Leaving their radical lifestyle for a life of restrictive Judaism was
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.
day someone sent Doron to R’ Reuven Dunin. “Go to him and he’ll
straighten everything out.”
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.
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.
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
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!
Him In All Your Ways”
Shefi family has a clinic where they diagnose ailments in a most unique
way and offer workshops on the topic of Bach (homeopathic) flower
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.
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
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
are the Bach remedies?
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.
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.
did you get involved in this?
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.
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.
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.
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.
did you learn this discipline?
in Germany and partly here in Eretz Yisroel, and I am still learning. It
is completely undeveloped here.
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.
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
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.
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.”
Assists Those Who Come To Purify
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…”
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
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.