Con­gre­ga­tion Etz Chaim works with all peo­ple of Am Israel in sup­port­ing their health, spir­i­tual evo­lu­tion, con­nec­tion with HaShem, and Enlightenment.

Biog­ra­phy of Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, MD

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Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, M.D. MD(H), D.D. (Doc­tor of Divin­ity) was brought up in a Reform Jew­ish back­ground under Rabbi Siskin of North Shore Con­gre­ga­tion of Israel in Glen­coe, Illi­nois where he was con­firmed and was first in his class of over three hun­dred stu­dents. His grand­fa­ther was the head of the Białys­tok Foun­da­tion in Chicago. Rabbi Cousens’ work has been blessed by the Bialy Rebbe of Israel.

Biography Rabbi 3_FixedAt the age of 11, the con­ser­v­a­tive rabbi in the area, Rabbi Lip­pis, strongly rec­om­mended on numer­ous occa­sions that Gabriel become a rabbi rather than a med­ical doc­tor. How­ever Rabbi Gabriel was des­tined to become a physi­cian first. While a med­ical stu­dent at Colum­bia P&S Med­ical School in NYC, he occa­sion­ally attended classes at Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary and had the honor of being in the pres­ence of Abra­ham Joshua Hes­chel. Although he had been study­ing Kab­balah since 1970, the next major phase of his Jew­ish life began at the age of 40, on the for­ti­eth day of a fast, when an unex­pected divine voice, a chas­mal, whis­pered that it was time to return to his roots and serve the Jew­ish peo­ple. He took this divine com­mand seriously.

Rabbi Gabriel began to study the Torah and Kab­bal­is­tic texts intensely. At the age of 44 he became bar mitz­va­hed.   He stud­ied under sev­eral ortho­dox rab­bis includ­ing the famous Rabbi Schlomo Car­lebach, to whom he also acted as med­ical doc­tor until his death. In 1996 he offi­cially began rab­bini­cal stud­ies under Rabbi Ger­shon Win­kler, whose grand­fa­ther had been the Chief Ortho­dox Rabbi for Copen­hagen, Den­mark. Rabbi Ger­shon Winkler’s lin­eage goes directly back to the third gen­er­a­tion to the Bal Shem Tov, Rabbi Elimelek, down to Rav Eli­azer Ben Tzion of Yeshivot Nava­radeck in Israel where Rabbi Win­kler com­pleted his stud­ies. Under Rabbi Win­kler he received smecha in 2008 after twelve years of rab­bini­cal study and training.

In order to meet the needs of Con­gre­ga­tion Etz Haim, in Patag­o­nia AZ, he began to hold pub­lic Shab­bat and cer­e­monies for the tra­di­tional Jew­ish hol­i­days. He was autho­rized by Rabbi Ger­shon Win­kler in 2001 to serve the Jew­ish needs of the Ari­zona com­mu­nity south of Tuc­son, as no rabbi existed in the area. He also learned to teach the Ophanim (a kab­bal­is­tic yoga for acti­vat­ing the sephi­rotic ener­gies in the body) and also began teach­ing Jew­ish eco­log­i­cal veg­an­ism. Dur­ing this time he also began to teach in Israel two to three times per year, and made Aliyah in 2007. In a per­sonal Aliyah cer­e­mony, he spent seventy-two hours in the Negev desert, in a semi-cave, with­out food and water and had a vision of Abra­ham in which he received Abraham’s energy of Uni­ver­sal Love, Jew­ish war­rior power, and “liv­ing with all four direc­tions of one’s tent open”. This fur­thered his inspi­ra­tion to serve all Jew­ish peo­ple. When in Israel he has held reg­u­lar pub­lic Shab­bats for approx­i­mately 150 peo­ple and fes­ti­vals for over 300. Addi­tion­ally he has begun to do Kab­balat Shab­bats at gath­er­ing places around the world and in the US and Canada. He has held pub­lic Shab­bats in approx­i­mately 40 coun­tries. A par­tic­u­lar part of his mis­sion is to inspire Jew­ish peo­ple back into the Jew­ish way of life as a great spir­i­tual path of lib­er­a­tion equal to any of the East­ern or West­ern paths that many Amer­i­can Jew­ish and Israelis have been attracted away from the Great Torah Way. The con­gre­ga­tion has a par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on Shab­bat, which Rabbi feels is the sacred cor­ner­stone of Jew­ish life and a con­stant ener­getic recre­ation of HaShem’s cre­ation inter­ven­tion and all the con­tin­ual inter­ven­tions Yah has made to sus­tain and uplift Am Israel through­out his­tory. It is also the day of enlight­en­ment each cycle of seven days.

Rabbi Cousens is the author of ten books on holis­tic lifestyle and spir­i­tu­al­ity, includ­ing Torah as a Guide to Enlight­en­ment and Cre­at­ing Peace by Being Peace. He is the father of two chil­dren and a grand­fa­ther of three.