Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Surfing for Peace

86 year-old Dr. Dorian Paskowitz donates 12 surf boards to surfers in the Gaza strip in a bid to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

From various sources on the internet: Dr. Paskowtiz was raised Jewish, but found his spirituality in Hawai`i. He learned to surf during the Depression in Galveston. His family later moved to Southern California, where he road a massive wooden board dating from 1915. He went to school in San Diego, Honolulu, and Stanford; joined the military when Pearl Harbor was bombed; and took his doctorate from Stanford in 1946.

He went to Israel to join the army during the 1956 Egypt/Israeli war, but was turned down. He went to Tel Aviv and surfed instead. He is credited with introducing the sport to Israeli, with Haaretz calling him a Jewish surfing guru.

He spent the next fifty years as a family doctor, and the past 35 as a "missionary doctor" who rarely charged for his services. He and his family of eleven spent many of those years in Hawai`i. From the St. Petersburg Times:

I consider myself a religious man, but I have nothing to do with religion, said Paskowitz, who is Jewish. I don't go to a synagogue, but I pray every day, several times a day, in fact. I put on the tfillin, the phylacteries of the ancient Orthodox Jews, but I have no truck with that stuff.

Paskowitz said that through the sea, surfing and his relationship with the people of Hawaii, he forged his spiritual beliefs.

I talk to God personally, he said. I don't want to sound like a kook, but I get out on my surf board and sit alone atop the deep blue sea and look around and just give thanks for being part of God's great world.

Gaza is rumored to have some of the world's best surf. It was popular with Israeli surfers prior to the 2005 withdrawl from the strip. Paskowitz decided to donate the boards after reading how a pair of Palestinian surfers couldn't enjoy the waves together as they only had one board between them.

This his mitzvah, part of a larger "Surfing for Peace" campaign aimed at bringing Middle Eastern surfers closer together. Paskowitz is hoping to hold a joint Israeli/Palestinian event in October, and Kelly Slater (who is of Syrian descent) is expected to attend. Paskowitz calls this mission a mitzvah

I couldn't find much more on-line, but I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open.

More links:
God will surf with the devil if the waves are good.
Paskowtiz, 2007

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