Vignettes of Moshe
Monday, November 7, 2016
by: Jerry Karzen, GCFP

Section: Moshe: Up Close & Personal


Jerry Karzen: If you were able to live your life over what if anything would you have liked to do or become, instead of what you are now known for?

Moshe Feldenkrais: I would have liked to be an actor.
JK: How would you like to be appreciated for yourself, or how the world regards your work after you pass away?

MF: Why would I care, I will be dead.
JK: We are receiving large sums of revenue, if you are unable to decide what to do with it, like give it to a foundation, a group of people, what do you suggest I/we do?

MF: Give it to a wealthy man; he will know what to do with it.

The year is 1978

JK: Moshe, I do not feel capable at this point in my understanding of the Method, but after watching you give FI® lessons today (about eight) all of them seemed to flow so nicely as if you have a clear sense of a function in each one….How do you do it?

MF: In truth Jerry, I feel as if I am more or less consistent in doing this only within the past six to seven years.

It is 1981, near the end of the 2nd year (summer), of the Amherst training

JK: Moshe I understand that many of the students are planning to teach ATM® (lessons) after this segment.

MF: They must not do it. It is only after they learn FI® (lessons) can they really appreciate, and actually know how to do both.

Personal Observations

Moshe always seemed to smell fresh even after smoking a cigarette (Dunhill filtered, blue label…a pack about every three days) or after a hard day’s work. “I do not wash myself with soap too often as it makes your skin dry.”

Moshe on a sometimes, breakfast: “I like spam, (Canned inexpensive left-over meat parts in a jelly) as it was all we had to eat after independence.” Then he would throw the can’s contents into boiling hot oil and when cooked, follow it by an egg or two in the same oil. Malke (his sister who lived in France) often brought French cheese. He loved the cheeses, and coffee with lots of cream and sugar. Cherries were his favorite fruit in the summer.

JK: “whose nice old small convertible is that in the driveway downstairs?”
MF: “Mine, I used to drive it around but not anymore.” 

The room I stayed in, in his apartment had lots of closets full of ties, nice shirts, well-tailored suits, and nice shoes. He often washed his own pants at night when on the road, which had doubled sewn seams by London tailors to handle the weight of all the stuff he carried in his pockets. Moshe and I created a contest of who could eat the hottest food (usually Korean)…it was mostly a tie.  He won the contest of who could eat anything when he ate the soft meat (MF: ‘It’s a delicacy’), under the fishes’ eye and then ate the eye itself. After lunch in Tel Aviv, (we always ate at his brother Baruch’s apartment), above the ‘Feldenkrais practice’ office in the basement of 49 Nachmani Street)……Moshe would start to smoke a cigarette and fall asleep for his afternoon nap on the dining room daybed. As always, before he finished the cigarette, the falling ashes burnt a hole in his shirt as he fell fast asleep from the heavy eastern European cuisine lunch. Sometimes dinner consisted of only rice as a consequence…Rarely any salads during the daily menu.

Short Stories

I suggested that I tape the Mann ranch seminar so that Moshe could make a book of it. (Later it became The Master Moves.) As a consequence, we slept the first night in the same bedroom. He snored quite loudly, (I moved to another room to sleep on the second night and thereafter) but what really woke me up about 3 AM was a sense of something moving in the room. I looked over towards his bed and in the gloom I saw what looked like a sheet floating on his bed. At first I was somewhat afraid, and quietly said, “Moshe is that you moving?”

The sheet lifted and he said; “I did not wish to disturb you as I was doing some ATM, so I covered myself with the sheet!”

Inscription: To Jerry with warm friendship. Nay! hot friendship S.F. 8.12.76 My habit after driving the car up to the gymnasium during the Amherst training was to open the door for Moshe and put my hand near the top of the door frame so that he might not hurt his head if by chance he might bang it on the door frame. I realized that this was really stupid one day, as he was perhaps the best person in the world who would know how to get out of a car seat. So the next morning I did not do it. He looked up at me after getting out and said, “Ah you finally got it!”

How I became Friends with Moshe

My small job before the second summer of the San Francisco training was to find housing for Moshe and his three assistants. The day before the training started I was showing him around the apartment he would be living in, and said that I needed to go ‘pee’. That there was a bathroom at the other end of the apartment and I would use the one at this end.  He said: “I will go with you.”

I responded, ”Uh, uh…..ok." So as we were both standing and urinating into the toilet, he told me the following story:
When he was a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, Joliot (Nobel Prize winner) was showing him around the laboratory and both of them needed to urinate; and Joliot invited Moshe to pee with him. So they both stood up on the lab room’s counter, and urinated together into one of the sinks drainage holes……..and at the end, Joliot said to Moshe, “And now we will both be friends forever.”

When Moshe and I finished urinating, he shook my hand and said, “And now you and I will be friends, forever.”

Jerry Karzen studied with Moshe Feldenkrais at the Feldenkrais® Institute in Tel-Aviv from 1976-1983. During those years he was Dr. Feldenkrais' personal traveling companion, secretary, and close friend.

Dr. Feldenkrais chose him to be a Trainer in 1982 along with Mia Segal, Yochanon Rywerant, Ruthy Alon, Chava Shelhav, Miriam Pfeffer, Anat Baniel, and the late Bruria Milo and Gaby Yaron.

Since 1980 Jerry has been the organizer or Educational Director for 55 Feldenkrais Training Programs in 9 countries, and has been a Visiting Trainer for numerous other programs. He is currently the Educational Director for Feldenkrais trainings in Germany and Brasil. Jerry assisted in the editing of Dr. Feldenkrais' last two books (The Elusive Obvious and The Potent Self) and directed, or himself filmed, 95% of all existing videos of Dr. Feldenkrais' private Functional Integration® lessons. At his request, Jerry organized and administered Dr. Feldenkrais' last teacher training program and was the first Executive Director of the Feldenkrais Foundation. He has also served as President of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America.

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Comments (2)
Angel Di Benedetto
11/18/2016 10:32:07 AM
Reading Jerry's stories was precious. Thank you.

Deborah Elizabeth Lotus
11/18/2016 10:05:15 AM
Oh, Jerry, these are precious stories! Thank you for your generous sharing and nice clear writing style. Thank you Guild for soliciting these stories, and Jerry for rising to the occasion ...Your first story of Moshe saying it had just been last 6-7 years that he was able to be so consistently effective in his lessons is humbling and heartening, as at 77, after practicing about 40 years, I am just now beginning to feel more confident and consistent. Not that I'm comparing myself to Moshe or anyone else; but it does seem it takes a good 20-40 years of slow learning to learn to become at least 'experienced'!
I think we all wish Moshe had a better diet, and didn't smoke (even though he 'didn't inhale') ; but Moshe thought he could eat anything and retain what was nourishing and shit out what wasn't. I think for him this was largely true, and I stopped feeling guilty about not eating more vegetables from the time I heard him say so! You were fortunate to have pee-bonded with him and brave to have served him so well over those rich and productive years, not an easy job! I'm sure you have more stories tucked away in a corner of your mind, and hope you bring more of them out to give those who never met him a glimpse of the humanity of the man! He hated to be called a 'Guru'! but my secret name for him was "the guru with the feet of clay he was proud to display"!
Thank you, Jerry.
All the zest,
Deborah Lotus, Boston MA.

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