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Haimish Himalayas: Chabad rabbi hits peak outreach

TJI Pick
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Published: 20 September 2018

Last updated: 4 March 2024

IN THE RURAL, laid-back Himalayan villages of Dharamkot and Bhagsu, renowned for tarot, reiki, meditation, crystal healing and yoga, are two Chabad houses providing a spiritual Jewish alternative.

The pair of Jewish outreach outposts are a magnet for the 20,000 Jews — mainly Israelis — wishing to experience Kabbalah, Jewish psychology and meditation, or simply enjoy a kosher meal on their travels.

The centres are the brainchild of 47-year-old Rabbi Dror Shaul, who returned to India’s Himalayan hills only a few years after he turned his back on becoming a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Raised in a left wing, secular family in Jerusalem’s Beit Hakerem neighborhood, Shaul grew up resenting the ultra-Orthodox protests and their repeated chanting against the opening of cinemas on Shabbat.

After his army service as a paratrooper, Shaul left Israel on a one-way ticket to India. His idea was to travel as far away as he could from both Jerusalem and Judaism in search of the spiritual meaning of life.

FULL STORY How a Himalayan Chabad house’s wildly popular rabbi almost became a Tibetan monk (Times of Israel)

Photo: Rabbi Dror Shaul prays with his children in the Himalayan mountains near his Chabad centres close to Dharamshala (Courtesy)

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