"A Jewish surfer confronts the dark, anti-semitic history of the sport he once found solace in. (But) what happens when your passion conflicts with your heritage?"
The Hebrew surfer doesn’t have to trawl too deep into the BeachGrit archives to find a kindred soul in at least one of the founders.
Read “Israel is the raddest surf trip on Earth!”, “What the Goyim Gudauskas Brothers got wrong about Israel”, “Let’s go schlepping, surfing gets into the 2021 Jewish Olympics!”, “Ozzie Wright sings King of the Jews!”, Movie: “The Hebrew Hammer!”.
Want a book recommendation? Read Revolt by Menacheem Begin for an uplifting account of Israelis taking on the two-faced Brits and winning.
Discrimination, racism? Yeah, the Jews know it better than anyone. The dirtiest and most tortured of histories. A lost people and two thousand orbits jammed with degradation and bestial treatment.
And then, of course, came the Nazis. The greatest war machine in history in their gorgeous, slim-fitting uniforms designed by Hugo Boss (yes!), butchering, starving, gassing and shooting six-and-a-half million Jews by the close of business in July, 1945.
So, as you might imagine, surfing’s flirtation with Nazism, predominantly post-war and notably by Miki Dora and Californian pals, (click here for La Jolla surfers in Nazi uniforms and waving the party flag from a Greg Noll movie circa 1959 and here for one surfer’s defence of the cosplay), don’t sit too well with the Jewish surfer.
Josh Greene, a nebbish Hebe from San Clemente, says he grew up with anti-semitism, his skinny frame he was told made him look like a death camp survivor, and took up surfing “to really carve my own niche and find the confidence, courage and physical strength I needed.”
When his wanted to have his bar mitzvah at a surf museum his parents quietly removed the swastika engraved boards.
Greene got a film camera for the bar mitzvah and just before he graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2022 almost decade later, he released his documentary “Waves Apart”, which pulls back the curtain on surfing’s supreme racism, wild Jew-baiting and historical hard-on for Nazism.
“Surfing can be seen as a microcosm for issues like that and I think we would be doing our sport a great disservice if we ignored our own signs of darkness,” says Greene. “I think that by making a film like this, we can dispel ignorance and divisiveness, and instead promote inclusivity, community and equality for all surfers and all people.”
Many inspiring cameos, including from the world champ and backside tube riding pioneer Shaun Tomson who you may not know was Jewish, but whose own bar mitzvah gift was a trip to Hawaii.
“For me, it was a total representation of what a bar mitzvah is — it’s coming into manhood. And here I was, a young boy paddling out in a 25-foot surf in Hawaii, which was a moment for me that changed my life. I came back to South Africa, and my career and my role in surfing changed after that bar mitzvah present.”
Tomson’s own experience with the Jew-haters, interestingly enough, was limited to being called a Jew Boy in the army and not within the surf community.
Watch trailer here.