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Old 05-12-2016, 14:40   #1
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Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

I am a Jewish sailor and find myself often asking, are there are any other Jewish sailors out there serious about cruising? If so, any stories worth sharing like celebrating Chanukah in the South Pacific?

Secondly, even more specifically, are there any Orthodox cruisers out there?

My wife and I are Orthodox and we occasionally do yacht charters. We kasher the galley and spend shabbos tied up at marina. As far as I can tell, we are part of an extremely small group. Would love to meet someone who is Orthodox and has some cruising experience.
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Old 05-12-2016, 16:01   #2
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

meg23,

Years ago, we met some lovely Jewish cruisers and their kids, cruising on a catamaran. She kept kosher by doing home canning, they came across to French Polynesia one of the times we made that trip. Home schooled in the mornings. I am sure they kept the Sabbath, but, of course, we didn't see them then!

I believe you are a small group, too. Good luck in your search.

Ann
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Old 05-12-2016, 16:26   #3
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

My experience is that cruisers are cruisers. Each having their own personal belief system but all tied together with a common interest of sailing. Chances are when cruising you can invite other cruisers with like and different beliefs and have a rich cultural exchange.
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Old 05-12-2016, 16:51   #4
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

When we are out cruising we sometimes run into people who recognize and comment on our boat name. B'Shert is a Yiddish word roughly meaning "meant to be" as in when you meet your soulmate and it is just meant to be, it is B'Shert. The people who recognize it are usually local costal sailors. Out and away as Celestial said no one much cares. I personally find the miracle of each day such a wonder I don't need to remember which day is supposed to be special. I think the third day is kind of special too.
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Old 05-12-2016, 18:56   #5
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

Hi,

Can I grab the opportunity and ask you a question I have always had but I could not ask - as I have only one Jewish sailing friend and he is not religious?

Is it legit for a Jew to sail offshore? (I mean long trips of ten days or more).

I ask this because I have read about limitations on what can or cannot be done on some days of the week considered holly.

I hope you will find fellow sailors here with whom to celebrate your festivities!

Best regards and hugs,

barnakiel
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Canary Islands
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Old 05-12-2016, 19:07   #6
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

In business I have had relations with very religious Jews and they cannot use or operate any machinery on their sabbath... can't press an elevator button for example... or drive in a car on sabbath. It would seem that sailing on sabbath would not be permitted. I can ask one of religious friends to ask their rabbi about this.

My sense is that sailors are pretty non religious except when facing their demise...
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Old 05-12-2016, 19:33   #7
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

Great questions. I am sabbath observant, which means I am basically amish from Friday night to Saturday night.

For certain, you would not be able to steer the sailboat, although you could have someone else control it for you. Of course, you couldn't mess with anything electronic either. Being sabbath observant on the ocean has a lot of challenges, no doubt. On the sabbath our only choice when chartering is to tie up to a marina.

Ultimately, the closest most Jewish people get to the ocean is on a cruise. Rabbi's get asked about cruises frequently, especially ones that are traveling over the sabbath (see Can I go on a cruise that extends over Shabbat? - Shabbat).

It is a fairly complicated question, and I suppose few Rabbi's get asked about long bouts of open ocean sailing, especially in a landlocked community where I live.

Anyways, that is part of why I was reaching out the forum, to maybe find Jewish people who attempted this lifestyle to some extent.
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Old 06-12-2016, 00:47   #8
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

While I am not observant I do remember learning that there are valid exceptions to the Sabbath prohibitions - when one's (or anyone else's) life would be in mortal danger, etc. So it would seem that under such rule if/when sailing offshore not doing any steering or using electronics for a whole 25 hours (yes, I think it's actually 25 not 24 as far as the length of the official Sabbath goes) would put lives in danger and thus would be exempt from this prohibition. Hey, after all if this exemption is good enough for the IDF it should be good enough for the rest of the people. ))
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Old 06-12-2016, 06:33   #9
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

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Originally Posted by meg23 View Post
Great questions. I am sabbath observant, which means I am basically amish from Friday night to Saturday night.

For certain, you would not be able to steer the sailboat, although you could have someone else control it for you. Of course, you couldn't mess with anything electronic either. Being sabbath observant on the ocean has a lot of challenges, no doubt. On the sabbath our only choice when chartering is to tie up to a marina.
There are many other Jewish sailors/cruisers although very few people in the cruising community are particularly, or even remotely, interested in/concerned with others' religious beliefs if any. I have been sailing for more than half a century and can hardly remember ever having been asked about religion although we have been invited to informal Sunday prayer meetings organized in one or more of the anchorages we've been in, often announced over the morning VHF net.

Regarding the sabbath, on passage there is nothing to disallow one from heaving too on the off-shore tack, locking the steering, lighting ones candles and saying the motzie and sitting out the night/day taking no hand to the yacht save in extremes which would be permitted. There might even be a rationale for non-jews to do much the same from time to time, simply to rest, although one's passages would be accordingly longer. As a practical matter, however, save for extended passages, one can simply plan one's passages to ensure one is safely in port during sabbath.

The history of Jews sailing is quite remarkable . You might find Ed Kritzler's (click on) "Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean" an interesting/informative read. And, as you travel, you may be surprised to discover welcoming Jewish communities virtually everywhere.

L'Chaim
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Old 06-12-2016, 06:42   #10
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

This is an interesting topic.

As said, there are Jewish communities around the world. Admittedly, they are not quite so common in South Pacific, but they are there (e.g., Suva).

I suspect in a way being a Jewish cruiser is like buying a new car. When you buy that car you suddenly see hundreds of them, while prior to that you'd not seen them. Go and cruise, and you'll find out who's Jewish.

One of my fondest memories is in Fiji celebrating Dewali with a hindu, a muslim, and an agnostic.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:51   #11
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

I am a reformed Jew, and pretty relaxed about dietary laws and Sabbath observance. We frankly have never known, or cared about, the religious beliefs of the cruisers we meet (except for a handful of Evangelical proselytizers). We have visited many synagogues in the Caribbean, some of them extremely old congregations (think 4-500 years). Early Jews in the Western Hemisphere is a fascinating history.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:54   #12
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

Thanks for the great replies!

Just to clarify with some of the comments above, I think the question is less of question of religious acceptance, it is more a question of "cultural observance" among cruisers. For instance, most cruisers probably celebrate Christmas. However, there has to be someone celebrating Chanukah out there on a mooring ball.

I think of it like Americans celebrating Thanksgiving. Americans celebrate Thanksgiving all over the world. The holiday is a manifestation of their identity.

Demographically, the amount of Jewish cruisers out there is probably exceptionally small. But I can't help wonder if there are Jewish people out there cruising and participating in some type of observance whether it indicates religious feelings or just cultural belonging.
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Old 06-12-2016, 10:11   #13
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

I had never thought about it, but I do wonder how the Israeli Defense Force handles the Sabbath? With neighbors like they have it would be difficult?
Is there a parallel to Luke 14.5, you know the Christian example of pulling an Ox or child out of the well on the Sabbath?

http://biblia.com/bible/niv/Luke14.5
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Old 06-12-2016, 10:28   #14
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

Quote:
Originally Posted by meg23 View Post
I am a Jewish sailor and find myself often asking, are there are any other Jewish sailors out there serious about cruising? If so, any stories worth sharing like celebrating Chanukah in the South Pacific?

Secondly, even more specifically, are there any Orthodox cruisers out there?

My wife and I are Orthodox and we occasionally do yacht charters. We kasher the galley and spend shabbos tied up at marina. As far as I can tell, we are part of an extremely small group. Would love to meet someone who is Orthodox and has some cruising experience.
I have a friend who is Orthodox, or at least has Lubavitcher sympathies and sails locally here in Toronto. He wants to someday keep a boat in Florida. He switched clubs from a nominally Jewish-majority club to which his late father belonged to arguably the WASP-iest club around here because they let him keep a freezer for Kosher food in his locker (he's very handy and can wire up most conveniences, just not on Shabbos, I presume). His comment was that the very WASPy club has accommodated his religious preferences far more effectively than did the "Jewish" club, which did not always offer a kosher option!

The number of Jews I know who sail is considerable. The number who sail and keep kosher...not so much. I don't know how one would parse Leviticus to sail on Saturday...let a gentile steer? But Jews have been sailing since Noah, so it's not so unusual.
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Old 06-12-2016, 10:33   #15
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Re: Cruising Jewish Sailors (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox)

Saving a life, and care for the body (health and safety) take precedence over all other mitzvot (obligatory acts). Jewish people have traveled the world for centuries as traders or to escape persecution. There is speculation that Columbus was a hidden Jew escaping the Inquisition and the Expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. There is documentation of Jews among his crew.


Jews were traders on the Silk Road three centuries ago. That journey took more than a year of arduous travel. Some took Chinese wives and created what became an ethnically Chinese Jewish community in Kai-Fong (sp).

One of the most famous philanthropist of his time, Sir Moses Montefiore, had plantations in Barbados, West Indies in the early 1800s. Travel by ship was common and lasted more than a week.

Wherever you travel you will find fellow Jews. There is always a connection like meeting family members from far away. You will make what accommodations you deem necessary to your authentic practice and you will find others who make different accommodations. Go. Enjoy the world. Life is good.
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