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Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 27, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 27, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 27, 2009 By Stacey Palevsky j. the Jewish weekly of northern california SAN FRANCISO--By all accounts, this is not the kind of Saturday that calls people to the woods. No, on this particular Sat- urday-overcast, foggy, rainy, wet, dreary--the weather de- mands a sweater and a mug of tea, pajama pants and slippers. Certainly not hiking boots. But if you are the Geduldig family, you fight the urge to hibernate, and instead don thick socks, hiking shoes and raincoats, pack an arsenal of snacks and a variety of water bottles, and load your two young sons into the Honda CRV for an afternoon outside. Why? Because for this fam- ily, Saturday is not just Sat- urday. Nor is it just Shabbat. It's Nature Day. Every Saturday for the past year, Lauraand Paul Geduldig have taken their sons, Elijah, 4, and Gabriel, 18 months, to regional and state parks around the Bay Area in an effort to heighten their rela- tionship to the natural world, Jewish values and each other. "This is one of the things I feel most proudofdoing in my wholelife," Laura says. Nature Day was inspired by aseries of conversations Laura and Paul had during their annual New Year's getaway in January of lastyear. At Harbin Hot Springs near Calistoga, away from the harried pace ! I i i Nature's sanctuary: Weekly sojourns make Shabbat more meaningful for one family of daily life, they talked about wanting to make the year different. Less stressed. More fulfilling. "We were so oversched- uled," Paul says. "We spent the weekend running from place to place, and we'd end the weekend more exhausted than we began it." The following week, they took a family vacation to San Diego, visiting Legoland and Sea World with their boys. But something was missing from those outings. "Nature was missing," Laura says. Laura, a life coach, and Paul, executive director at Oakland's Temple Sinai, both wanted to observe Shabbat more regularly, but in a way that would be meaningful for their family. They already made Shabbat dinner and lit candles every Friday, but they wanted to do something else special on Saturday. They also agreed they needed more time and space away from e-mail, cell phones and commerce. They decided they could achieve their goals by creating--and, more im- portantly, committing to-- Nature Day. "We're following the an- cientwisdom of Shabbat--not to the letter of the law, but to the spirit of it," Laura says. "Yes, we drive [to the woods], but we're not destr6ying, we're not creating and we're not spending money, which is similar to the traditional rules of Shabbat." Early on, they established guidelines for Nature Day. It can be moved to Sunday only in the event of hella- cious Saturday weather or a best friend's birthday party. Otherwise, they RSVP "no" to birthday parties, trips to the museum or tickets to a kid-friendly performance. "We had to put a wall around it, and at times that's challenging, But it's really worth it," Laura says. Neither friends nor col- leagues are allowed to tag along. Longtime friend Barbara Rosenstein initially wanted to join the family for Nature Day before she knew about their intention. "Americans today do not have enough family time, and so I can completely honor and respect that they're trying to do this as afamily," she says. The final rule: Nature Day is canceled only in the event of illness or some other emer- gency. Even when they go out of town (to visit Paul's family in Atlanta, for instance), they find a trail there. "If we don't do this for us," Laura says, "sometimes we feel like we're splintering in four differe directions." Laura sees the pursuit of wild spaces for her family as in sync with her work as a life coach, through which she empowers people to make big or incremental changes in their lives. Nature on page 7B PAGE 5B Stacey Palevsky "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods..."--Lard Byron, "Chiide Harold's Pilgrimage" Paul and Laura Geduldig and four-year-old Elijah and 18-month-old Gabriel enjoy a "Nature Day Shabbat" in Harbin Hot Springs, Calif. Stacey Palevsky "Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet."--Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Inversnaid., The Geduldigs wind their way through the woods.