Geronimo! Jumping Jews find new way to mark Shabbat

Dan Haut likes to think his new idea is a prime example of “thinking outside the box.” In a way, it is — but, much more accurately, it’s “thinking outside the plane.”

On Friday, April 18, Haut and a handful of Jewish acquaintances will enjoy a perfectly good Shabbat dinner — and jump out of a perfectly good plane. The 31-year-old Napa banker hopes it’s the first of many jumps, and a new way to reach out to marginally involved Jews.

“My buddy Robby Kaufman and I, we had the idea of doing something crazy in our lives. Our lives are mundane and boring and we wanted to do something invigorating,” Haut said.

“So we thought, ‘let’s go skydiving! Why don’t we form a Shabbat skydiving crew?'”

Well, perhaps your mothers could answer why not, but in any event, that’s just what Haut and Kaufman did.

“Skydiving may sound crazy to some people. But maybe someone will hear about it and say ‘These Jews sound cool. Maybe I’ll get more involved in the community,'” explained Kaufman, a 23-year-old San Franciscan.

So far, the inaugural tandem-jump has lined up eight confirmed Jewish jumpers. Any last-minute heroes hoping to tag along to the Davis jump are encouraged to contact Haut at Daniel_haut@ml.com.

For Haut, this night will not be different from all other nights; he once skydived in college. His motivation, however, was not reaching out to the Jewish community but impressing a girl.

“I went to school at U.C. Davis and a good friend of mine — I had a crush on her — said she was going to do this. And with male bravado, I said I’d do it too,” he recalled with a laugh.

“I was scared … but I’d have had egg on my face if I didn’t do it.”

You have a lot of crazy thoughts when you leap out of a plane, he noted — like “did I finalize my will?”

Kaufman hopes more “daredevil-type” Jewish activities are to follow — he wouldn’t even rule out lion-taming.

“There’s your neurotic Woody Alley kind of Jew and the Israeli combat boot-wearing Jews. So I always try to go against the typical Jewish stereotype,” said Haut.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.