Biography of Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, MD
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.
At 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.