Founder of The Rice House
The Jewish Veg Spotlight Shines On ...
Israel is bustling with innovators, including the Rice Family, who are leaders in promoting healthy plant-based eating. Jewish Veg Member Ginat Rice speaks to us about her and her husband Sheldon’s Israel-based alternative-health center, The Rice House.
The Rice House, located in Zichron Yaakov, is a place of study and healing that promotes macrobiotics. Major principles of macrobiotic diets are to reduce or eliminate the consumption of animal products, eat locally grown foods that are in season, and consume meals in moderation. (For more information on macrobiotics, see the Veg Spotlight on macrobiotic expert Denny Waxman).
Both Sheldon and Ginat have the particular wisdom that comes with self-healing. They founded the Rice House of Macrobiotic Study as a home-based consulting practice offering a wide range of macrobiotic, numerology, palmistry, shiatsu, and life-coaching services. These include health consultations, cooking lessons, and study courses in macrobiotic theory, health diagnosis, and more. They offer a residential experience of macrobiotic living in a comprehensive program of learning and practice.
This May, they will be hosting the second Whole Health Forum: a week-long conference for people from all over the world to converge and learn about a path to healthy living.
Jewish Veg: What is the Rice House?
Ginat: The Rice House is the organization that myself and my husband, Sheldon Rice, created. We originally started The Rice House with the purpose of sharing macrobiotics as a way of life with other people.
We soon realized however, not everyone is specifically asking for macrobiotic counseling. It is probably a better idea to meet a person where they are at, rather than starting where we are.
I want people to have a healthy lifestyle not just with food, but also with their thoughts. Sheldon and I will do whatever it takes to help people get there. Healthy living starts with healthy thoughts.
Jewish Veg: What originally caused you to transition to a plant-based lifestyle?
Ginat: I actually am from the Midwest. I came to Israel when I was 17 years old. When I was graduating from college, I had already been to Israel many times. I finally decided to make Aliyah. I joined a group of Israelis and Americans who were starting a new kibbutz on the Golan Heights.
In order to get to know each other, we would take small road trips. On one of these trips, one of the fellow passengers was vegetarian. Our group decided to all be vegetarian for a week … and that was it! My best friend and I remained vegetarian and eventually transitioned into macrobiotics. It was a gift.
Jewish Veg: Can you share a story of healing that you have experienced through your macrobiotics practice?
Ginat: Unfortunately, I do have my own story. I had been living a macrobiotic way of life for 20 years. I suddenly found out that I had developed breast cancer. I was pretty shocked. I am sure every woman says, “It can’t be me.” I definitely thought that it couldn’t be me, since I was living a macrobiotic lifestyle.
The first thing I did was go to my macrobiotics counselor to get advice. After following his recommendations and participating in part of a chemotherapy treatment, I healed myself. I still had the big question of, “How could this happen?”
After I recovered, my husband and I took a long trip to the United States, where we traveled around visiting macrobiotic friends. I started asking them questions like, “How do you understand why people get ill? What is illness?” I later turned their answers and my experience into a book, “Food, Faith & Healing: 40 Stories of Macrobiotic Recovery.”
Jewish Veg: May 21-26, you will be hosting the Whole Health Forum. Can you describe it for us?
Ginat: The Whole Health Forum is five-and-a-half-day residential retreat. The purpose is to offer various modalities of holistic health.
We have over 80 speakers throughout the week. People can choose if they want to learn about ayurveda, raw food, macrobiotics, and more. There are all kinds of workshops such as: dance, music, art, body movement, and various therapies.
Participants can choose between day-long workshops where they can study a specific technique with a mentor, or they can have a varied schedule and try different classes all day long. This year, we are flying in a macrobiotic French chef who will be cooking the food throughout the Forum.
We also have some international experts who will join us by live-stream to present their ideas and stories. For Example, Virginia Harper healed herself of Crohn's Disease. She will be sharing her story and speaking about how people can really take charge of their own medical problems.
The Whole Health Forum is like a party with new friends, beautiful nature, delicious food, and interesting talks.
Ginat: Sheldon and I have been going to conferences like this for years. We have been to them in the United States, Belgium, the UK and more. Every time we go, we say, “There should be something like this in Israel.”
This time, we are bringing it home. People come from all over the world to our Forum. Most attendees are from Jerusalem, however we also have people from Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Singapore, and all over Europe.
Jewish Veg: What connection do you see between your Jewish identity a nd veganism?
Ginat: In my humble opinion, the true understanding of Kosher is “to be fit.” That is the actual translation of the word. A fitness room is Heder Kosher.
We need to be eating food that is fit for human consumption and human well-being. The purpose of health is to connect to a higher source. We can’t do that if we are ill and unhealthy.
Food is the first step to opening our spiritual channel. Without health, we cannot serve God.