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Aug 20, 2019 9:23 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

When Sand And Prayers Meet At The Beach

Rabbi Joshua Franklin and Cantor Debra Stein lead s Shabbat service at Main Beach on Friday, August 16. KYRIL BROMLEY
Aug 20, 2019 12:28 PM

East End beaches, long hailed as havens of peace, relaxation and natural beauty, have recently been serving as new sanctuaries of sorts — places to pray.

In the summer months, several religious institutions, including the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton and the Montauk Community Church, have been inviting congregants to sermons and services on the sand.

On Friday nights between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Jewish Center of the Hamptons has been holding Shabbat services at Main Beach in East Hampton. Filled with songs and children’s activities, and honoring the beginning of Shabbat — which is the day of rest in Judaism — the services are meant to foster a “fusing of Judaism and the Hamptons most beautiful natural sanctuary,” said Rabbi Josh Franklin, who leads them.

“The beach moves people in different ways” from a more traditional setting, the rabbi said, explaining that for some people it may be easier to connect to the world during outdoor prayer.

Designed to focus on catering to young children, the Shabbat service includes dancing, jumping and a s’mores bonfire post-prayer. “Everyone walks away feeling special, feeling moved,” Rabbi Franklin said.

In a three-part series of Wednesday night services this summer, the Montauk Community Church also aimed to give congregants an “opportunity to get to know our own backyard a little better,” said Pastor Bill Hoffmann. The Montauk church’s three outdoor services — held at Fort Hill Cemetery, the Camp Hero bluffs, and the ocean beach at Kirk Park — consisted of short psalms “meant to give folks the opportunity to reflect,” the pastor said, adding that the services usually strive for a “quieter and more contemplative” feel.

The Wednesday night sessions, dubbed “Sunsets and Psalms,” were open to anyone in the community. Although they ended earlier this month, Jewish Center services at Main Beach will continue at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 23, and end on Friday, August 30.

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This isn't really different than a business operating on the beach and should be put to an end. We need to limit the commercialization of our beaches (from surf camps to churches and everything in between), not encourage it.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Aug 21, 19 9:54 AM
2 members liked this comment
I agree. Where does it end? I am all for MY religion but to make it public is wrong. What if someone NOT in my religion, their religion is just sitting on a PUBLIC beach in peace, serenity, solitude, or with others just peacefully going about their business? That is why there are synagogues, churches, retreats, what have you....it willl end in resentment. Human nature.....unfortunately.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Aug 22, 19 12:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By country joe (60), sag harbor on Aug 22, 19 7:36 AM
What can they be thinking???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 22, 19 6:05 PM