Rabbi Dives into ‘Church Rescue’ Reality Series

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink (second from right) strolls on the Venice Beach boardwalk with Church Hoppers (from left) Anthony 'Gladamere' Lockart, Kevin 'Rev Kev' Annas, and Jerry 'Doc' Bentley. (photo credit: Courtesy of T Group Productions)

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink (second from right) strolls on the Venice Beach boardwalk with Church Hoppers (from left) Anthony ‘Gladamere’ Lockart, Kevin ‘Rev Kev’ Annas, and Jerry ‘Doc’ Bentley. (photo credit: Courtesy of T Group Productions)

One day, three Christian ministers showed up at the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice Beach, California and took Rabbi Eliyahu Fink surfing. The pastors had come to stage an intervention: It was finally time for the 32-year-old Orthodox rabbi, who had never been in the ocean, to take the plunge and immerse himself in the lifestyle of the eclectic seaside community where he has been working and living with his wife and two sons for more than five years.

Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, Anthony “Gladamere “ Lockhart, and Jerry “Doc” Bentley, known collectively as The Church Hoppers, didn’t show up last May at “the shul on the beach” unannounced. The ocean-phobic Fink had invited them to film an episode of their new “Church Rescue” unscripted television series at his synagogue. The segment airs December 23 on the National Geographic Channel.

We’ve seen this kind of show before. What Gordon Ramsay does for failing restaurants in “Kitchen Nightmares,” the Church Hoppers do for struggling religious congregations. The business-savvy ministers travel the country helping churches and other faith-based institutions (hence, Fink’s shul) better establish themselves in the marketplace so they thrive instead of going under, as so many small congregations do. The promo material for the series promises the trio will “use the wisdom of Scripture and a little Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions.”

Click here to read more and watch a scene from the show.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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