Aliyah Magazine is dedicated towards bringing Jews home to Israel. This 'exclusive' story reflects the burning question of a Jew's right to live in Israel despite previous mistakes, in this case of a spiritual nature that could happen to any Jew in similar circumstances.
The following story relates to the triumphant search of one Jew to find his true identity. Dale Streisand was born in the United States and grew up in California during a period of major cultural change.
Like anyone without a strong foundation in Judaism, Dale became easy prey for both eastern & western religious cults. However, throughout his remarkable journey and despite all odds, Dale managed to keep alive a flickering flame of Judaism and a love for the Jewish Homeland in Israel.
His adventure took him across many continents, and led close to the inner circle of highly influential leaders. Dale is a first cousin of the famous Jewish singer Barbara Streisand. He was also a close confidante of an internationally acclaimed guru and even stayed in the home of the Beatle’s George Harrison, himself a follower of that spiritual leader. Dale came through his own brush with fame and its associated trappings, to discover for himself the humble but great source of Judaism.
This story is still unfolding before our eyes. It encompasses the very real ‘wandering Jew’ complex that even today lures many Jewish & Israeli youth to explore foreign cultures, with potentially damaging results. In sharing this epic adventure Dale hopes to encourage such youth at risk to appreciate the wonderful heritage that Judaism and the State of Israel has to offer.’
The Jew’s Inner Cry
I was raised in a Jewish family near Los Angeles. My parents were both from a strict Jewish background. I never met my mother’s parents as they passed away before I was born. My mother once told me that her grandfather was a teacher of Rabbis. They were from Poland. My fathers’ parents were very Orthodox and came from Galacia. As I grew up, my parents tried hard but little by little compromised on Jewish points. Though I had my bar mitzvah and went to schul on Yom Kippur as well as celebrated Chanukah, as well as some Hebrew school, my parents didn’t do all the things a Jew should do.
Many things about Judaism I never learned.
I remember once when I was quite young, about four or five years old sitting in the schul. Inside, there was a huge beautiful Magan David stained glass window. It made a strong impression on me as I thought ” how great God is” I can never forget that day!
After my bar mitzvah, at about the age of 14, I started experimenting with things, as was natural for a kid of my age. I grew up in the 60′s in California. I really was a searcher of truth, and what better place and time could there be to begin that quest!
As I hitchhiked from L.A. to Northern California many times, I would meet Hare Krishna’s along the way and had many talks with them. At that time I had no idea that Judaism also shared many teachings about the soul transmigrating to different bodies to perfect itself. Neither like many other Jews living in California at that time, did I have any idea as to how sublime the Torah was.
However, with a natural Jewish inclination towards the spiritual, and denied the opportunity to find it within Judaism at that period, I got interested in an Indian religion and studied it intently.
I joined the Hare Krishna movement, complete with their colorful costumes and street theatrical performances! Being a good universal Jew, I became very strict in their teachings and based my life around it. My desire for a more uplifting spiritual dimension had for now been temporarily met.
While some wondering Jews made their own version of Aliyah within the vast American continent or the Australian outback, at the impressionable age of 19, I made my first trip to India. What an adventurous people we Jews are! Can you imagine exchanging delicious bagels for dry chapatti bread? At least the taste was closer to matzos!
Let me explain a little about Indian religion, as I understood it. It has many diverse and different branches to it. My own interest was perked when I studied Indian healing and astrology. Over time, I became quite proficient in Indian astrology as I had a teacher of astrology in India. During my own spiritual healing process, I came to better understand Abraham, our forefather’s taste for studying the stars before finding the one divine source behind our universe.
But for then, it would be many years before I would truly experience that light.
I would be locked in the Indian mode for 34 years! This included a period when the Beatles were spreading the message of the Maharajah, and Ravi Shankar was the Jimmy Hendrix of the sitar. It also included the start of an endless track of so many good young Israeli’s, so intensely drawn to the allure of the enchanted east.
I sat at the feet of gurus in India in their huts. I bathed in the Ganges River. But I always knew I was a Jew even though Indian philosophy tried to say that I wasn’t. Even though I was involved in Indian philosophy, there was something deep down inside telling me that I was different. I knew that to be true and couldn’t fully accept all of the Indian religious beliefs and culture. My Jewish Nefesh was always telling me something. Even with some of the chants of the Hare Krishna’s, I would sing them to myself in the tune of Shalom Aleichem or Hava Nagila, not as easy as it sounds! I would even tell people that I was a Hindu Jew. However, I didn’t go so far as adopting the name of Guru Ravi Streisand.
I was the epitome of the Jewish joke about ‘oy…my son has become a guru, but he’s doing well!’
I was indeed doing well, giving lectures in many countries about my acquired knowledge it. In Mexico at the Hare Krishna center, I taught basic Sanskrit to children. I really was committed to it. Can you imagine 34 years? I could tell you stories that would turn ones head around.
Looking back, I realized that at that time the Hare Krishna movement had many Jews and most of the leadership was Jewish. Accordingly, during my progression with that movement over that period, I never thought it was wrong as a group, as so many Jews were involved. Little did I know how wrong it really was for a true Jewish soul. Thankfully, having emerged into the true Jewish path, I felt some consolation knowing that it’s now possible to help Jews who go off the dereck from Judaism, to steer them back to being a Jew and follow the teachings of Judaism. On a personal basis, I like to encourage one to be strictly Torah observant and also to be proud that they truly are Jewish and special, and know that Israel is really our true home.
However, revisiting the past, I still had a long way to go. Unfortunately, during all those years, I had marital problems and never really experienced shalom bayit (peace at home). I encountered many unfortunate events in my personal life. The road was to get even harder, as we shall soon discover in the next episode, coming soon.
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