Updated: May 6, 2021
Aliyah Date: December 2005
Immigrated from: Bay Area, San Francisco
Currently living in The Galil
J. Rivkah Asoulin made Aliyah 15 years ago. Today, she is a mother of 7 and the founder of the only Herbalist Conference in Israel. Fascinating story!
After growing up in Ohio in a very secular area, it might be surprising that Rivkah Asoulin now lives in Israel, with her seven children and husband. As a child, Rivkah didn't understand what it meant to be Jewish. When she ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area at UC Berkeley, only then was she exposed to more of the Jewish world. She had the opportunity to meet with Habad emissaries, and this was the exposure she needed. It was there, at UC Berkeley, that she decided to come to Israel for the first time on Taglit.
On the last night of her Taglit experience, after Shabbat, the trip leaders asked them all to pray on their own. So Rivkah prayed for a sign if she was supposed to come back to Israel or not...and...nothing happened. A few hours later, the trip was on the way back to the airport. When they got there, she asked if the flight was maybe overbooked so that she could stay longer, but it was not. She tried to check in her bag and luggage, but for some reason, there was an issue, and she could not. To make a long story short, the flight WAS indeed overbooked, and one of her tripmates was going to have to miss the flight! Rivkah offered to trade with him -- and because of a glitch in the system, her luggage had not been loaded on.
Her compensation for trading her seat was a free, round-trip flight back to Israel!
She found a program that enabled her to come back, called WUJS. This is a one-year program for Jewish artists, where they can learn Hebrew as a second language. On the first week of the program, they took a field trip to the Kotel. Back home, she had been working at a Jewish convalescent home for elderly people. She would try to make them smile and cheer them up and when she said she was going to Israel, she was overwhelmed with people asking her to bring their names and prayers to the Kotel.
She brought all their names prayers to the Kotel, and she prayed to find her soulmate at the right time. The next place they took her was to a moonlit tour of Jerusalem, where they met up with another WUJS group. She met her husband there that night. He had even put in the same prayer note as her the previous month. Five months later they were happily married to one another.
Five days later they returned to America so Rivkah could continue her schooling. Before a year went by they decided their place was in Israel. She and her husband wanted to be a part of building up the Jewish nation!
Rivkah and Yaron first made Aliyah to Rehovot and then moved to the Galil. A professional actress, singer, and director, Rivkah has dabbled in working in her profession in Israel, but homeschooling her seven kids has become all-encompassing.
Founded the first Israeli International Herbalists Conference
Only after she became a full-time mother did she really begin to focus on her second love, herbal medicine. That's how she started her first business--Wise Woman Fertility, where she helps struggling women to conceive. Her business has been able to help many women since it was established!
Then she started having way more clients than she could keep up with -- and as her family expanded in size, she had to close down for a bit. She reopened a few months ago. During this extended maternity leave, and wanting to keep her skills fresh, she realized there were limits to how much she could learn about herbal medicine in English, in Israel.
There are international conferences in English no matter where in the world -- so why not in Israel? So she decided to act on this. After some time researching, she flew to Ireland where she found the "Irish Herbalist Guild" that had a good template for an herbalist conference. From there she became the founder and executive director of Ancient Roots Israel -- the first international Israeli Herbalists conference.
The conference was held last February, on Tu'B'Shvat, the Jewish New Year/birthday of the trees with 70 attendees from all over the world, with the goal to bring the best Israel has to offer in herbal medicine to an international audience. Ancient Roots Israel is planning its next conference for January 26-28, 2021. Due to the current pandemic, they will be updating the public about this event via their website.
As a service to the newly formed ARI (Ancient Roots Israel) community during the Covid 19 pandemic, Rivkah started a virtual plant walk every Sunday from 12 PM-1 PM in Israel. It's her way of saying “Let’s get outside” and learn to identify the plants around us. So after this great adventure -- what does Rivkah advise for Olim? "The sky is the limit. Bring your dreams. Build the country. There is a place for everyone in Israel. Bring your dreams and share."