Gilor Damari, a discharged officer from the community of Otniel south of Hevron, learned to surf following his army service while travelling in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and decided to make more people in the religious public fall in love with the sport.
"After a few years as an officer in the Golani Brigade, I was released and went to the East, to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, where I met an Israeli guy who taught me the secrets of the sea and of surfing," he told Arutz Sheva. “From my study of surfing, I also learned about the sea and how to maintain caution in the face of its dangers. I wondered to myself why we in the religious public do not know the dangers of the sea. With rock climbing, for example, everyone understands that you need a guide, but people come to the sea without any knowledge.”
Damari decided to roll up his sleeves and open a surfing club for the religious public in Israel. "Every surfer first learns about the sea and its dangers. There is no reason why our public should not know the sea. We open groups on separate beaches in Ashkelon and Bat Yam for men and women separately. We bring the best professionals, male guides for the males and female guides for the females, and we include surfing and diving along the Mediterranean coast. "
Damari gives several examples of tips that help one escape the dangers of the sea. "The surfers learn everything from the most basic things like understanding how the sea works, what kinds of colors the flags are, what a current and a hole are, and how to deal with a whirlpool. For example, if you understand that a whirlpool is taking you inside, then go inside with it and then come out, but don’t swim against the whirlpool because then you exhaust yourself and the danger is greater."
Damari hopes that more in the religious public fall in love with surfing. "Everything is done according to halakha (Jewish law),” he says. “I hope there will be more separate beaches for surfing in Tel Aviv. At the moment [there aren’t many] and for no real reason, because surfing is done 75 meters from the lifeguard post and doesn’t bother the bathers. Whoever connects with the sport goes with it for life. We have students from Itamar and Eli, and after a few training sessions they are already going out to surf by themselves.”