Dr. Abram Ber — an Arizona legend

Dr. Abram Ber — an Arizona legend

Dr. Abram Ber 1940-2014

Dr. Abram Ber

by Mary Budinger — 

With the passing of Dr. Abram Ber in June 2014, Arizona lost one of its great leaders of holistic medicine. He was a born healer who was as generous with his healing gifts as he was with his financial ones.

Ber had one of the largest holistic medical practices in the state. Many of us who had seen doctor after doctor, without any resolution of what was wrong with us, found our way to his door. We remember seeing the ever-changing stack of medical journals on his desk that he read faithfully every week, because he was always looking for ways to help the stubborn cases that no one else could solve. We remember seeing visitors in his lobby from Israel, and he contributed generously to Jewish efforts to help orphaned children and battered women in that country. We also remember that he treated many patients who could not afford to pay.

“He helped many people who had been written off by other doctors,” said Russell Olinsky, M.S., an environmental specialist who worked with Ber to create spaces free of mold and toxins. “The Jewish gute neshome in him — that’s Yiddish for good soul — made him a person we looked up to so that we could improve ourselves. He showed us that even if people take advantage of you or disappoint you, you get over it and give people the benefit of the doubt, and do more than just go on with life. He had the chutzpah to delve into his patients’ lives and ask what happened, because he wanted to get at the root cause of the disease.”

Ber was born in Romania. His grandfather perished in a WWII concentration camp. He and his parents left Romania for Italy in 1947 and eventually made their way to Montreal, Canada. In 1966, he graduated from McGill University with a medical degree and became board certified in anesthesiology.

He became interested in holistic medicine after a patient gave him a book on vitamin E. In 1977, Ber moved to Phoenix and eventually opened his own practice. He specialized in noninvasive electrodermal testing, the use of biofeedback to determine stresses in the body that interfere with health.

Ber co-founded what is known today as the Arizona Board of Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. Doctors who are M.D.s or D.O.s in good standing may study and qualify to be licensed by this board as homeopathic medical physicians. The initials M.D.(H) denote these licensees. Abram Ber, M.D.(H), held license number 001.

A staunch supporter of the private organization that supports these physicians, the Arizona Homeopathic & Integrative Medical Association (AHIMA), Ber sought out international experts as speakers to educate himself and his colleagues on new techniques in medicine.

“Without Dr. Ber’s strong support,” said Garry Gordon M.D., D.O., M.D.(H), “we would not enjoy the freedom to practice an alternative to the disease management system of care that is pretty much all patients in many other states can obtain. Dr. Ber’s ongoing efforts have kept alive the freedom of medical choice that Arizonans enjoy today.”

His son, Eli Ber, who was a naturopathic physician, predeceased him. His older son, Hershel Ber, is an attorney. Ber was married to Beth, his second wife, and he maintained a warm and caring relationship with his first wife, Moselle Benjamin.

Victoria Bowmann, Ph.D., recalls that on the wall in his office was a star registry, denoting a star had been named for him. “So when you gaze into the clear night sky, think of Dr. Ber twinkling down upon you, reminding you to shine light in the darkest places where it is impossible to love. Excel above your expectations. Live your life to the fullest.”


Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about nutrition and integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 4, August/September 2014.



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