The Unique Lifestyle of an Orthodox Jewish Surfer

Writer and surfer Gai Shtienberg documents the wondrous life of an ultra-orthodox Jewish man's life as he balances his devotion to religion and his irrepressible affinity for surfing. The images in Shtienberg's article, originally featured on popular surfing blog The Inertia, show the different sides of 34-year-old Meir's life. In one instance, he is sporting a wetsuit and catching some waves, while in another he is observing a conservative dress code and engaging in his religious studies. Meir says, “As long as the sea and the waves fascinate me so much, I will keep on surfing…together with studying the bible.”

Shtienberg documented Meir's unconventional lifestyle for six months, witnessing his ability to balance both his spiritual customs and recreational activity despite leisure being seen as “a waste of time.” Interestingly, Shtienberg shares the fact that Meir was raised in a secular household. Having grown up with a fondness for breaking waves, he began surfing at 12 and ventured off on a surfing expedition at the age of 21.

On this trip around the world, he met his wife Nava (formerly Melanie) in the Philippines. Now, the two have adopted a unique lifestyle together in Jerusalem, along with their six children, that includes devotion to Judaism and surfing. Shtienberg cleverly quips, “He is an uncommon creature both in his religious study group and with his surfing mates. Nevertheless, both groups accept him with love.”


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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