As a surfer, mountain biker and musician, one might say UCSB alum Yom Tov Glaser is not your average rabbi.
The Jewish Awareness Movement is hosting today’s 9 p.m. “JAMin with the Surfin Rabbi” event at Hillel with Rabbi Glaser. Prior to leaving Isla Vista, the rabbi will hit the waves with students Thursday morning.
Rabbi Mitch Goldstein said Glaser played a concert for a JAM trip to Israel this summer, prompting students to invite him for some surfing and a show.
“He combines his Jewish ethics and rabbi-ness with his surfer dude personality and combines it all in this meshed [music],” Goldstein said.
Glaser attended UCSB on the “five-year plan” from ’86-’91, majoring in geography. The rabbi said he was not initially too eager for post-high school education until his father provided him with some special incentives.
“My father, who didn’t go to university, felt so strongly that I go that he bribed me with six kegs a week,” Glaser said.
During his time on campus, the future rabbi sported foot-long dreadlocks, protested against the Gulf War and was even kicked out of the San Miguel Residence Hall as part of what he called a “pre-emptive strike.” Glaser also spent time surfing the pro-tour circuit.
A week before graduation, Glaser said he was offered a scholarship for a program in Israel. He assumed he would hit the pro-tour again, but said his time in Israel sent him on a different path.
He became a rabbi after six years of study and currently resides in Israel. Glaser leaves the country occasionally to teach, scheduling his talks with a deliberate purpose in mind.
“I try to plan the places I speak around places with good surf or mountain biking,” Glaser said.