Thursday, August 9, 2018

Only in the Hamptons could you do ‘Shabbat on a Yacht’


Noah’s Ark has nothing on this vessel — a private yacht that will combine prayer and party for some 30 members of the Hamptons Jewish scene.
And yes, says Rabbi Berel Lerman, who’ll captain Saturday’s event at the Sag Harbor Cove Yacht Club, Shabbat on a Yacht is totally kosher. Earlier this week, the Orthodox rabbi blessed the boat and affixed a mezuzah (a box containing Hebrew scripture that’s meant to protect the home) to the vessel’s door frame.
Not that the yacht is sailing anywhere, for that would violate the laws of the Sabbath. Nevertheless, those who didn’t miss the boat are kvelling.
“The kids can’t wait,” Upper West Sider Stephen Wald, 60, says of his children, ages 6 and 10. “They said, ‘OMG — we’re going on someone’s boat.’ I tell them, ‘It’s a big boat — you can call it a yacht.’ They’re really impressed.”
The Walds and other invited guests from Sag Harbor’s Center for Jewish Life — Chabad will celebrate the end of the Sabbath, known as Havdalah, and the start of the next week. Rituals include blessing the wine, lighting a candle and smelling sweet spices.
The congregation list is a virtual who’s who of movers and shakers, many with yachts of their own — and even Jill Zarin is impressed.
“Not too many places would they have services on a yacht,” says the former “Real Housewife,” who won’t be at this ceremony. “When people are on the water, they’re looking for peace and solace, so what better physical place to pray than on the water on a yacht?”
The yacht’s owner, Jessica, agrees. She and her husband (who withheld their last name and his first name for privacy) offered the congregation their boat last year, and that inaugural Shabbat on a Yacht was such a hit, they decided to host it again.
“People said it was amazing,” says Jessica, a non-Orthodox Jew who wasn’t familiar with the Havdalah (Hebrew for “separation”) service until the rabbi explained it to her. “The whole idea … is to be spiritually elevated.”
Other members are less enthusiastic about adding water to worship.
“I’ve never been on a boat for any religious service,” says 57-year-old congregant Andrew Quentzel. “[But] I don’t think you need to be in a synagogue to pray or be in touch with God.”

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