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In 2000, a small group of Jewish students at Emory University joined Rabbi Ed Rosenthal on a trip to Crystal River to learn about endangered manatees, and Scubi Jew® was born. The next year, they traveled to the Bahamas to learn about declining shark populations.
It wasn't until 2009, when Rabbi Rosenthal became the Hillel Director at Eckerd College, a small liberal arts school in St. Petersburg Florida, that the program began to really expand. Scubi Jew became a common name on campus, and Jewish and non-Jewish students alike joined the program. Occasional excursions became regular Alternative Fall and Spring Break trips, snorkelers were able to get their Open Water Certification through the program, and "Ally's Way" (the official service vessel of Scubi Jew) allowed students to adopt and clean the St. Petersburg Downtown Reef on a regular basis. And Yes...Eckerd Hillel is the only Hillel in the world that owns a boat.
Over time, the need for marine conservation awareness in the greater Jewish community, beyond college campuses, became apparent. Thus Tikkun HaYam became the first Jewish Marine Environmental organization
Through the Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, Tikkun HaYam has expanded Scubi Jew to has expanded to six campuses in Florida (Eckerd College, University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida, and University of Miami) and continue to push beyond our state borders.
Participants regularly take part in local reef and waterfront cleanups, coral restoration programs in Key Largo, shark awareness dives in the Bahamas, adaptive dives with Diveheart, fish population and identification surveys, manatee appreciation trips to Crystal River, scuba certification courses, lectures, "Water Torah" learning and much more.
A once purely college focused program had expanded to certification courses for middle and high school students, and community-focused clean ups. But we're not stopping there. Stay tuned to follow the journey as Tikkun HaYam grows and inspires the Jewish community to care for the marine environment, and finds new immersive ways to explore Jewish identity.
Want to get involved?
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