The beach may sound like an unexpected place to find Chabad activists wrapping tefillin on Jews who happen by, but that’s exactly what took place at a recent surfing competition in Long Beach, California.
As internationally acclaimed athletes rode the waves and fans crammed the beach, Rabbi Eli Goodman of the Bach Jewish Center and his team of dedicated volunteers could be seen scouring the sand for Jewish surfers, offering men and women the opportunity to connect with their heritage and spreading the word about this month’s High Holiday services.
The popular surfing competition ended on Friday, and on Sunday morning, a beachside 9/11 memorial service saw surfers paddle-out into the water. Goodman, who directs Chabad-Lubavitch of the Beaches, was there as well.
“Water represents life,” the rabbi reflected later. “Those who live near the water, or make their living on it, can sense that spiritual connection.”
A local surfer, Azi Cutter, participated in the paddle out. He noted that Goodman, with his black hat and beard and tzitzit hanging down around his waist, has been a curious sight for some in the community.