The New York Times – “A Rabbi’s ‘Spiritual Playground’ Extends to the Surf”

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — Rabbi Hanniel Levenson had a problem. He had to teach Hebrew to a group of boys. It was his job.

But here was the thing. It was summer in the Hamptons. The sky was distractingly blue. There were swimming pools, bikes, bonfires, girls.

How could the rabbi convince the preteen boys that it was important to memorize a new alphabet and difficult prayers for their bar mitzvahs?

The rabbi offered his students a deal.

“We were studying Hebrew and he said if I taught him to surf, he would teach me Hebrew,” said Jonah Dickson, 12. “It was a little surprising. I didn’t think a rabbi would want to surf.”

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