More and more folks are taking Judaism outdoors.
My friends Zelig Golden and Julie Wolk in Berkeley, Calif., run Wilderness Torah, which explores Judaism’s earth-based traditions through spiritual camping programs like Sukkot on the Farm and Passover in the Desert.
Another friend, Rabbi Mike Comins, who has led Jewish spirituality walks for years, has just morphed his TorahTrek project into Torah Trek-The Center for Jewish Leadership Spirituality to train the next generation of Jewish wilderness guides. And Rabbi Jamie “the adventure rabbi” Korngold runs ever more backcountry bar mitzvahs and skiing Shabbats from her base in Boulder, Colo.
But you don’t need a national organization to show you how it’s done.
In Hilton Head, SC, Rabbi Brad Bloom of Congregation Beth Yam is organizing a Teshuva bike ride for the High Holidays. (Teshuva is Hebrew for “return,” and in the context of Yom Kippur refers to spiritual repentance.)
Bloom, whom I’ve met several times and who impresses me with his energy and his commitment to social justice, says the congregation wanted to “think outside the box” for ways to enhance their Jewish spirituality.
Here’s what he told the Island Packet:
Bloom said a bike ride allows people to connect with nature, and nature often brings out the spiritual side in people.
"Oftentimes religion is something that has its beginning and end inside the house of worship," Bloom said. "I was trying to make the point — the values of our faith go wherever we go."
The hour-long ride takes place Sept. 5 on Hilton Head Island, and is followed by a spiritual discussion and snacks. All that for five bucks – sounds like a bargain.