SoCal rabbi blesses the waves, then surfs them

The “Surfing Rabbi” joined a handful of surfing priests and around 3,000 other ocean lovers Oct. 3 for a Huntington Beach interfaith event dedicated to showing spiritual appreciation for the ocean and its gifts.

Rabbi Nachum Shifren offers a prayer to surfers during an event at the Huntington Beach pier Oct. 3.

Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a Los Angeles native and author of “Surfing Rabbi: A Kabbalistic Quest for Soul,” not only helped begin the third annual blessing of the waves event with a prayer, but he also took to the waves.

“It’s a cool event and we want to attract young people from all faith traditions,” said diocese spokesman Ryan Lilyengren.

The event began with blessings offered by clergy of various faiths. Speakers discussed their faith-based commitments to protecting the environment and warned of the dangers of global warming. Tongan and Samoan choirs in traditional dress sang hymns in honor of the ocean.

Most of Southern California’s world-class surfing beaches are in Orange County, where the first blessing of the waves celebration was organized in 2008 by the Catholic diocese. — jta