L’Chaim Speedy and Spotty

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Rabbi Shalom Plotkin, formerly of Beth El Synagogue in Margate, brought his daughters

MARGATE—The phone rang at Ray Scott’s Dock on Amherst Avenue Friday morning, June 22, and it was an old friend looking to give his daughter a special experience and release some turtles into the marsh before his family moves far away. According to owner Robin Scott, the call came in from Rabbi Shalom Plotkin, formerly of Beth El Synagogue. He was transferred two years ago to Brotherhood of Israel Synagogue in Newtown, Pa.

Now Plotkin is moving again, this next adventure will take his family even further from the beach to Kingston, Ontario where he will be the rabbi at Queens College.

While Plotkin said his family is excited about the opportunities ahead and of having a Hillel, he also wants his family to experience some of the culture that is part of living at the shore one more time before they head north after July 4.

Scott gave young 5-year-old Elyana and 7-year-old Hannah Plotkin, along with Eliana Weinstein, 6, and her big sister, 12-year-old Shuli, a wonderful mini-lesson on bayfront life. "The turtles are real creatures of habit. They want to go back to the place they were born to lay their eggs," explained Scott. "When they can’t get back to the same place because of bulkheads being built, they will just keep going and try and find an alternate route to get to where they feel they need to go. That is when you see them trying to cross the roadway." She explained that people find turtle eggs left behind and they bring them to Scott’s bait shop where they are fed a diet of super nutrient rich food so the turtles grow quickly to a size large enough to allow them a better chance of survival.

The girls listened to the lesson and then each pulled from their pockets quarters, nickels and pennies to help pay for the turtles special food. "The girls wanted to help the turtles so they brought their own money to help Robin feed them," said Rabbi Plotkin. He held the turtles up for the girls to see, and they decided it would be a good idea to name them.

After much discussion, Speedy and Spotty were placed in a large bucket and the girls were outfitted in life jackets and it was time to head to the marsh.

Scott enlisted the help of deckhand Axar Patel to lead the small expedition across the back bay to a marsh area where the turtles would have the best possible chance for survival. Along the way to the secure spot in brackish water Patel pointed out osprey, egret, mallard and heron and explained the ecology and health of the marsh area to the turtle release crew.

But before the turtles would find their way back to nature, Plotkin wanted to do a little more than just send them to a new home; he wanted to wish them a long life and say a prayer for them.

The adults onboard shared a glass of wine; "L’Chaim: a long life to Speedy and Spotty," said Plotkin. After the short toast, the Rabbi offered a prayer for the turtles and the other creatures that keep the waterway teaming with life.

The girls took their turn wishing their newest friends well and just before they were to make their trip back to the marsh Patel pointed out how the turtle had a big smile for the girls, something the budding young environmentalists enjoyed a great giggle over.

They sealed the deal by jumping from the deck boat into the water for a quick dip and then headed back to the dock.

While the girls might not have a chance to experience nature quite like that for a while, they walked away knowing they sent their reptile friends on an adventure to a wonderful new place to live, just like Rabbi Plotkin and his girls.

Elyana and Hannah Plotkin along with Eliana Weinstein are all giggles because they noticed that “Speedy” the turtle has a great big smile for them. One last picture with Spotty before she was placed in the water off Margate with friends Rabbi Shalom Plotkin, Elyana and Hannah Plotkin and Eliana and Shuli Weinstein. What is good enough for the turtles is good enough for fun as 12-year-old Shuli Weinstein and her little sister Eliana take a big leap from the back of the deck boat Friday morning, Rabbi Shalom Plotkin and his daughter, Elyana take a dip after releasing the turtles Friday morning, June 22.


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