Life & Culture

Surfin’ Tel Aviv

Erin Hunter's one woman show tells the story of her year in Israel


"This is the story of the year I spent in colourful, aggressive, neurotic Israel and how I survived.” Thus begins the story of one wide-eyed American as she finds her inner chutzpah while learning to surf in Tel Aviv.

Erin Hunter writes and stars in a one-woman show, sharing her real-life experiences as an immigrant in Israel, in a classic fish out of water tale. Only this fish landed among the balagan of Tel-Aviv’s vibrant culture and found serenity on a surfboard.

When Heather, played by Hunter, arrives in Tel Aviv, she’s hit with immense culture shock, a struggle to fit in and a husband who finds God. Meanwhile, she finds herself drawn to the surfing subculture which provides a relaxed and “almost meditative” oasis in a bustling city. Or, as she says, “He finds the Wailing Wall and she finds a wall of water.”

The 70-minute long story plays out as a series of surf tutorials exploring both the lessons she learns in the water and on land. Through 12 colourful characters and four original comedy songs played on the ukulele, the show delves into the immigrant experience and female empowerment, with the underlying themes of hope and transformation.

When Hunter moved to Israel in 2017, she decided to do two things. One was to learn how to surf (after all, she’s a Los Angeles native), and the other was to keep notes on her wildest and most interesting experiences as an immigrant in Tel Aviv.

“It’s largely based on my experiences,” she says. “But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

“A core part of what I want people to take away is that life is full of surprises and possibility.”

She shares anecdotes of desert weddings, wine tastings on the Syrian border, Shabbat dinners with French Zionists. Not to mention a song called, It’s an Orthodox Party at Ikea and another about the plethora of cats that roam the Israeli streets.

If you’re a regular visitor to Israel, then you might well find something familiar in the characters she meets along the way. Take this surfing instructor for example. When she asked him if there are sharks in the water, he responded: “We have sharks here, but they are not in the water.”

Hunter is one half of the award-winning comedy duo, Hunt the Vigan. In 2016 they went viral for their sketch, Boobies in a Box, about a modesty device for breastfeeding mothers. Hunter converted to Judaism in 2011 at LJS in St John’s Wood, where she’s still a member. Exactly one year later she and her husband were married by Rabbi Alexandra Wright, whom she calls “one of [her] favourite people”.

She originally learned to play the ukulele to surprise her husband with their song, The Luckiest by Ben Folds, on their wedding day.

So what’s Hunter’s top tip on unleashing your inner chutzpah? A drink? Something that’s simply learned with age? For her, it has been surfing but she believes that “If there’s something that dazzles you but excites you at the same time, giving that a go will have a ripple effect on the rest of your life.”


Surfing the Holy Land is at The Warren on June 30, part of the Brighton Fringe

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive