|Dov Neimand loads his practice kayak for a trip down to Sandy Hook from the George Washington Bridge. Charles Zusman|
Many Jews travel from America to Israel, but Dov Neimand is doing it his way – by kayak.
The 27-year-old Teaneck native, now a resident of Israel, where he is a reserve medic in the Israel Defense Forces, is in the process of shoving off from Spain and paddling his way along the Mediterranean coast to Israel.
Neimand’s plans were set back last week, however, when much of his navigation and communications gear was stolen in Barcelona. When reached by e-mail earlier this week, he was working to resupply the kayak and get going again in time to meet his February deadline.
The trip is a way to see parts of the world, he said during an interview earlier this summer at the Teaneck home of his parents, Jerry and Jane Neimand.
“It’s exciting to set a goal and accomplish it,” he said. “I also want to see parts of Europe and this is a great way to do it.”
His itinerary will take him down the coast of France, down Italy to a canal above Sicily to Greece, down the Greek coast to Turkey, and then to Cyprus. From there he’ll go to Haifa and down the Israeli coast.
Neimand’s trip is not for the faint-hearted or frail. He worked out steadily during his three-month summer stay in Teaneck, with many trips on the Hudson River, including one down the coast to Sandy Hook, and practicing the “Eskimo roll,” a technique of rolling the kayak upright without getting out after a capsize.
On a past visit to the states, he paddled the length of the Hudson from Albany to New Jersey, some 160 miles.
During his interview, he said he planned to paddle five days a week. He carries a list of shuls along the way, won’t paddle on Shabbat, and eats only kosher food. He hopes to spend many nights in youth hostels, but other times he will camp on the beach.
The trip will test his stamina, and the lean and tanned Neimand expects the current to be against him much of the way. Neimand said the currents are less strong this time of year, so that determined his timing. He will wear a wetsuit to keep warm, and he’ll have to bundle up at night, when temperatures may drop to the 30s.
“We’re concerned, but we’re supportive,” said Jerry Neimand on Wednesday. “Once he makes his mind up to do something, he does it.”
Dov Neimand, a graduate of Torah Academy of Bergen County, left for Israel shortly after high school to attend a yeshiva for a year and a half. He then did a three-year stint in the army, followed by earning a bachelor’s degree at Hebrew University in mathematics. In February, he’ll start graduate school at Bar Ilan University with an interest in desertification.
The youngest of five children, Neimand has been interested in kayaking since he was 7 or 8, according to his father. When Dov Neimand told his parents of his plans to paddle to Israel, their first reaction was to try to discourage him, but now they accept his choice and support him, the elder Neimand said.
“We wish him well, and hopefully this will be a wonderful learning experience,” he said.
Charles Zusman contributed to this report.