What It's Like to Live With a White Witch

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Elik Zur-Almog, 37, Ehud Zur-Almog, 3, Noam Zur-Almog, 36, and Rona Zur-Almog, 6.
Elik Zur-Almog, 37, Ehud Zur-Almog, 3, Noam Zur-Almog, 36, and Rona Zur-Almog, 6.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

From left, Elik Zur-Almog, 37, Ehud Zur-Almog, 3, Noam Zur-Almog, 36, and Rona Zur-Almog, 6; from Kiryat Tivon; arriving from Nice, France

Hello, can I ask how you spent your time in France?

Noam: We were in Verdon Gorge.

Elik: It’s the most impressive gorge in France, a nature reserve.

Noam: We camped out. Camping in Europe isn’t a concept Israelis are familiar with.

Elik: For a week we heard no Hebrew.

Noam: There are many camping sites there, and a river flowing between them. It’s lovely to hike there, and also there’s a delivery of fresh baguettes and croissants. A whole other experience.  

What exactly do you do when camping out?

Elik: We visited villages and lakes. When the children are a little older, we’ll be able to go kayaking and do buddy rafting.

Rona: What’s buddy rafting?

Noam: Remember there were people in the river with diving suits and safety equipment ... and they just floated in the river and cruised?

They just swim in the rapids and falls?

Noam: Yes. When they come out they look a bit battle-fatigued.

Elik: I was envious of them.

Noam: But I gave you the go-ahead to do it.

Elik: Yes, but I didn’t use the authorization.

What do you both do?

Elik: You start, you’re the weird one.

Noam: You start, you’re the complex one. (Both laugh) Alright. I’m a white witch, a witch of light.

What does a white witch do?

Noam: I heal with energies, cleanse houses and people of things that are stuck to them, and draw energy away.

Because someone wants to do them harm?

Noam: Not necessarily, sometimes you just curse something and a void is created in the world, and that gives them an opening to enter. And then they stick.

Tomer (the photographer): Are you a ghostbuster?

Noam: (Laughing) Yes. I’ve seen some ghosts.

What do they look like?

Noam: I see figures. They’re not opaque like the people who sitting here across from us are, but they’re not far from that.

Do you see them now?

Noam: If I try, I can enter that state of mind now, but if I don’t have to, I create defenses and make sure to protect myself. It’s just that during flights and on planes there’s a lot of dreck during landing and takeoff.

What can people do to free themselves from the dreck if there’s no witch handy?

Noam: You can connect with the ground. Inhale, feel the soles of the feet and then send roots into the earth, as far as the core of the planet, and from there take the energy back and feel it rise to your head. And there’s a bonus: You can open the crown of the head to the sky. That really helps.

Can I ask a practical question? If someone dear to you dies and you see a lot of butterflies afterward, like in [the Israel TV series] “Zaguri Imperia,” what does that mean?

Noam: Butterflies are connected with incarnations and renewal, but the question is what you felt when you saw them. You have to ask yourself what it evoked in you.

So there are no unequivocal answers? 

Noam: It’s a matter of approach, and my approach is not unequivocal. I think that everything that happens externally is a reflection of what happens within us, and the question is what happens in the encounter with our soul.

Can you prove that it works?

Noam: Only with regard to myself. For example, during the trip I had a terrible headache, and I text-messaged my colleagues that I was feeling poorly. The next morning I got up with the clear understanding that I’d been treated by them. The headache passed; a few of them sent me a message that they’d treated me.

Elik, what’s it like being married to a witch?

Tomer (the photographer): Most men would say that

Tomer, please. (Everyone laughs)

Elik: She only told me about it after we knew each other, but I see that whenever someone at home doesn’t feel well, it helps. Obviously it doesn’t help with everything, but it helps a lot.

In what way is your occupation complex?

Elik: I work in the Dualis Social Investment Fund; I manage the social programs.

Why is that complex?

Elik: Social business is something weird, it’s hard to define. We’re a nonprofit that operates like a business, but our job is both to make a profit and to do good, so the question is what exactly profit is and what exactly doing good is, when one thing’s not more important than the other.

Boaz Ronen and Mayaya Gabay.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Boaz Ronen, 54, from Tel Aviv, and Mayaya Gabay, 44, from Los Angeles; Mayaya is flying to Los Angeles

Hello, can I ask how you spent your time in Israel?

Mayaya: I came home for a long visit after 17 years, and now I was supposed to fly to L.A., but my travel agent didn’t inform me that I need a visa for a connection in Toronto, so I didn’t board.

You’re the first person I’ve ever met who couldn’t get on a flight and is still smiling.

Mayaya: I did my part, I got to the airport, but there are other forces at play. It’s not time yet, I guess; every delay is for the good. Another day with my beloved – a privilege.

You’ll stay here and that will be that.

Mayaya: I’m raising two girls in L.A. But this is home. The magnet is very strong here; the call to come home is more powerful than ever. There’s always a call, but this time it was an outcry. I visited my amazing tribe, the family, and discovered that they’re all doing great. Beautiful families, it’s just incredible what’s happening here. And I also found great love.

You mean Boaz?

Mayaya: Yes. We’ve been friends for a long time, but now we met by chance at a bar in Tel Aviv, we did some catching up on our lives and discovered that we’re in a very similar place. Since then the rest is history. Dream time, whatever we want it to be.

When did you first meet?

Mayaya: We met 23 years ago, in Morocco. We went there on a mystical journey with members of the Sheva [world music] band.

Boaz: We shot a movie there. It was great.

Mayaya: The movie is called “Seal of Solomon.” It’s about roots music and Moroccan instruments, and it starred Gil Ron Shama and Mosh Ben-Ari.

Boaz: That Moroccan trance music was exciting. We also filmed in the Sahara, three-four months.

Mayaya: We were both from the same tribe of friends, all from the Galilee. I lived on Moshav Amirim at the time, when it was first founded, and had a store that sold medicinal herbs. It was a dream, filled with music and friends – the Sheva band, Shantipi and the Beresheet Festival, before they all became famous. We’re the pioneers of everything that’s happening here today.

Boaz: The “generation of the desert.” And then I got married and divorced, and she did, too.

Mayaya: And I moved from Galilee to the Golan Heights and from there to L.A., where I’ve lived for 17 years – and from there, inshallah, to redemption.

Boaz: We’ve both been divorced for seven years, she has two girls and so do I.

Mayaya: Wonder of wonders, love has power and it will triumph.

Amen. What do you both do?

Boaz: I’m a painter and I work with food and art.

Mayaya: I do dance therapy, work with children – it’s never-ending creativity in different modes. I developed a dance method of awareness in motion, called Mayaya Dance, and I teach hundreds of children a week. I also dance myself and perform with an amazing troupe, and we do international projects.

What sorts of projects?

Mayaya: It’s an ensemble of Christians, Jews and Muslims, and it’s managed by an Israeli fellow named Yuval Ron. It’s a mission, to bring people the dancing and the music through spiritualism, mysticism, Sufism and the kabbala. To make peace through art. 

So for you dance serves a higher purpose.

Mayaya: I started on a spiritual path at the age of 20. I traveled in India and Europe, and I had all kinds of encounters – it was like finding candies along the road – but it’s a process. I think it’s something deeply rooted. Boaz and I come from kabbalist families, rooted and with shining souls. There are periods in which the soil is fertile and the spark comes to life.

How do you know when the spark awakens?

Mayaya: The inner voice that calls to the Creator of the world is one voice, but it has infinite aspects and forms. It dances with you, but you have to listen, be in waiting mode; if you remember that you are the daughter of the king, you learn you are also a faithful servant.

I need some commentary here.

Mayaya: To be a person connected to the Kingdom, you have to engage in a form of service to something that is bigger than you, otherwise it won’t “stick.” Today we want everything faster, immediately. That’s because we think we’re in control, but we’re not, and that’s hard to accept. The only option is to make do with what there is. For example, I could be totally down because I’m not boarding a plane now, but I’m not down. That’s the truth.

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