Helping Restore Tampa Bay and Beyond
“Ally was a tremendous environmentalist,” said Eckerd College’s Campus Rabbi, Ed Rosenthal “She is easily one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Ally was the kind of Hillel student who would pick up a piece of litter and carry it until she found a recycling bin.” Rosenthal helms the ‘Scubi Jew’ program at Eckerd College, a program that trains student divers to fulfill Tikkun HaYam, the Jewish moral imperative of restoring the oceans. The college is is located on Boca Ciega Bay at the southern tip of St. Petersburg on Tampa Bay.
Ally loved to spend time outdoors and received her SCUBA certification through Scubi Jew. So when the Live Like Ally Foundation was exploring ways to honor Ally’s memory, Todd and Michelle Willen approached Rosenthal and asked what they could do to support his program. That conversation led to a contribution toward the purchase of a 34-foot Sea Ray cruiser that the group now uses as a dive boat; they’d previously been chartering twice a month. The boat is named Ally’s Way and the name is written across the transom in Ally’s own handwriting.
Student divers use Ally’s Way to help clean up area waterways, a difficult task due to poor visibility in Tampa Bay. “Eckerd Hillel is now the only Hillel in the world to own a boat,” said Rosenthal, “the boat provides great savings over the expense of chartering a boat for environmental dives.” The diving club, open to all students, is one of the most popular groups on the Eckerd campus.
Traditionally, a new boat is Christened before she makes her maiden voyage, by smashing a champagne bottle on her bow and giving her a name. But what about a Jewish boat like Ally’s Way? A Christening wouldn’t quite be appropriate. “I looked to our tradition for the ceremony where a name is given, and of course when a baby boy is born, he is given his name at the Brit Milah Ceremony,” To celebrate Ally’s Way’s maiden voyage, Rabbi Rosenthal conducted a modified version of a Zeved Ha Bat – the naming ceremony for a newborn girl – renaming it “Zeved HaBoat.”A mezuzah (an object hung on the doorpost that marks a Jewish household) hanging ceremony was also held aboard the boat. Rabbi Rosenthal said he chose the mezuzah, three silver dolphins leaping out of the water into a sky-blue background, to represent the connection Ally had with the water.
You can follow the Scubi Jew program on Instagram, @scubijew, or here>.