Update on Launching Community Acupuncture in Jerusalem, Israel (blog version…)

So it’s been 3 months since I’ve started practicing CA at the community center in my neighborhood. As a member of this wonderful international movement, I’d like to give an update on things. But first, a little background:

Despite being thousands of miles away from the States, acupuncturists in Israel face the same problems and challenges so powerfully expressed in Lisa’s last blog. As I was reading her first columns in “Acupuncture Today” two years ago, I knew I was sharing with many of you acupunks in the U.S. that feeling of being struck by lightening.

span style=”font-family:’Times New Roman’;”>Acupuncture is growing every year in popularity here. Someone told me lately that it’s even more popular than in the States. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it does make sense in a way. For the past 15 years or so, the big trip to the Far East is the first thing most youngsters do here after the army, enriching our culture with ideas from abroad. Alternative medicine consequently thrives on this, making its way into mainstream medicine. The healthcare system in Israel is far better than in the U.S., and all citizens are medically insured. In the past decade or so, acupuncture has been incorporated into it, so that many who seek treatment don’t have to do it privately, yet would require having an additional insurance in order to get the discounted fee, ultimately paying about $40 for a half-hour treatment, once a week (I base this calculation on the minimum wage earned in the U.S. and Israel). Only a fraction of acupuncturists is employed in this system, and their salary is no more than humiliating.

So despite these differences, the problems remain the same – acupuncturists not making a living, a majority of the population still not being able to get alternative healthcare regularly and effectively, and, of course – the Chinese medicine schools flourishing.

Two years after being struck by the magnificent idea of CA, after reading everything I can on the subject (it took me a while, I know…), attending Tan seminars and learning Jingei, I decided to go for it. I started practicing CA at the community center in my neighborhood. I feel lucky to be able to run this as a pilot before I actually open a clinic. You see, there are no CA clinics in Israel, so I literally have to train myself. I know of one clinic in Tel-Aviv, but it’s a hybrid, incorporating CA twice a week, between facial rejuvenation and other BA style treatments… The other clinic I know has a sliding scale but treats 3 patients an hour in 3 different rooms.

span style=”font-family:’Times New Roman’;”>Not the real thing…

I have a day job, pretty well paying, a supporting wife and a 2.5-year-old son. So just quitting everything and announcing a “grand opening” isn’t an option for me. Not yet, anyway.So I came up with this.

The community center finally found me a nice room (not very large, but cozy) I share with a massage therapist. As some of you might recall, I started out in a kindergarten, after hours, and as pleasant as that was, it was just too much hassle to carry the Lafumas each time from the shed, setting the whole thing up, tearing it down, and being hysterical over lost needles that might wind up in a foot of some 3 year old toddler…. So now I just set up the chairs and that’s it – they’re folded at the corner of the room when I’m not there.

I treat people twice a week – Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings. The center manager finally settled our financial arrangement (60%-@), so I hope that they’ll help more with the publicity now. At this point, making money isn’t the main concern for me – it’s about practice, and building a patient base. My wish is that in 1 year I’ll be practicing from my own clinic.

So far everything is very exciting, and quite a challenge – how to treat 3-4 people in the same room, how to diagnose quickly, how to use Jingei, Tan, Tung. I’ve treated patients I would never normally encounter in my former (extremely low-volume) BA practice. Amongst others: housewives, students, a teenager, a housecleaner and a clerk. I’m still contemplating the sliding scale. People here have a certain mentality of making sure they don’t pay more than they have to. So for now I set a fixed price of 50 Shekels (appx. $19). Mostly anyone who hears about this model (non-acupuncturists) usually likes it immediately. Some are a little deterred of sitting with others in a room. But the bigger challenge is actually educating people about the effectiveness of acupuncture. It still is, justifiably, a weird concept for most folks. As for my fellow acupuncturists here – I’ve been waiting forever for laying this bomb on them (the true version of it, anyway…), but I feel I should wait until I’m really “knees deep” into it. I expect a lot of fun when that happens…!

I keep learning from my mistakes and have not yet reached my comfort zone, but I plunged myself into this and I’m enjoying this rough training. I also feel grateful for this CAN community, without which I couldn’t have started anything.

Things are pretty slow now but growing steadily, and I’m very optimistic and energy charged – I am going to do this, and will then show others here how to do it too…! It’s simply the right thing to do, in every sense.

Cheers,

Roy

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Responses

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  1. Hurray for you!

    And thank you so much for posting about all of it. It’s great to hear an example of a step-by-step approach that is working so well. I’m sure in a year you will have your own clinic!

    p.s. And yes, feel free to translate anything you want into Hebrew.

    p.p.s. Also, “struck by lightning” is how I feel too. Often.

  2. Hi roy

    Nice to hear about your clinic, sounds very good.

    I must say although my clinic is hybrid as you call it, most of time here is in doing CA, and its my main income. i think there is a place for CA practice in israel, and i really enjoyed reading about your experience with it here.

    see you..
    Assaf (from Tel Aviv)

  3. shout out to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

    Hello Assaf,

    Nice to hear from you. We’d love to hear more of your experience and your situation, too. 

    And, Roy, can’t wait to hear more about how it goes in Jerusalem.

    Both of you probably have a great deal of thoughts and stories that are really good for all of us U.S.ers to hear, as we tend to forget how so much of our perspective is informed blindly by our positions as Americans. It’s ceratinly true in terms of culture and politics and how we think of community – and i wonder how much of it is true about acupuncture.

  4. Hey Assaf…

    Been meaning to contact you…. I’m glad to hear that the CA part of your clinic is growing! I highly recommend you’d join CAN, and read The Remedy (incase you havn’t yet) – might get you really fired up.

    Would be great to start our own local CAN here, wouldn’t it? It might just be the beginning of yet another vision of mine unfolding…..Smile

  5. Definitely

    Part of the challenge I see is how to translate the notion of community to local terms. As my experience grows, I pick up on these differences, for example – on my first week I had 3 women in treatment. They couldn’t help but talk to each other during most of it. At first I was thinking to myself: “Oh no! Don’t talk…. group qi! group qi..!”, but then I realized that this kind of does feel natural and fits our culture here. Strangers put together in a room, like the dentist’s office for instance, would eventually talk to each other. So it got me wondering…. but then I had a shift where people fell asleep, so I don’t know. I’m still figuring this whole thing out. Maybe Assaf can share his experiences too.

    The other thing is the community itself – Jerusalem is very versatile and comprises of several communities – Orthodox Jews, Religious but not Orthodox Jews, secular Jews, North African Jews, Europen ones, Americans, young students, Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs, and more. So what kind of community will be built around my practice – I don’t know yet. Meanwhile it’s been a mixture of people. I think that in Tel Aviv though the community is a little more homogenous.

    So time will tell…

  6. Israeli CAN

    may be a nice idea, but honestly first of all i think we have to build a a solid CA practice here, can be great to talk some time.
    and of course i read “The Remedy”..thats why i’m here..

    cheers

  7. would love to talk

    My name is Aaron Askanase and I’m also and acupuncturist who is relatively new to Jerusalem. I would love to talk with you more about what you are doing. Send me a direct email and let’s find a time to talk.

    Aaron

  8. Hey Roy,

    I’m very happy to

    Hey Roy,

    I’m very happy to find your blog- why on earth did you keep it a secret???! 🙂

    I’m very excited about our little project on Sinit, and I’m sure it will make this blog (the one I’m writing a comment now) will reflect all the changes that the Hebrew blog will give you.
    It’s not just the power of the needle, there’s also the power of the word… hehe

    On to read more,
    Yael