Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz is an American surfer and physician who gave up practicing medicine for a living and decided to become a professional surfer. In 1972, he founded a surf camp run by his family, where campers could live alongside and surf with members of the Paskowitz family. He and his family have been referred to as the "First Family of Surfing".
Paskowitz was born March 3, 1921 in Galveston, Texas, one of three children born to Russian Jewish emigrants Louis and Rose Paskowitz. His sister is former actress Sonia Darrin. He graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1946.
After two failed marriages (including one that resulted in two daughters), he realized that he did not feel happy as a doctor. Paskowitz went to Israel for a year, and found himself happier than he had ever been. He volunteered for the Israeli army in 1956 during the Suez crisis but was rejected. He then returned to the United States and focused on surfing full time.
The First Family of Surfing
After marrying his third wife, Juliette, Paskowitz and his new bride began a period of roughly 25 years of a transient bohemian lifestyle on the road. The couple produced nine children, and the entire family lived and traveled together in a succession of used camper vans. Paskowitz's personal philosophy about education and money and healthy lifestyle was imposed on his family.
None of the Paskowitz children were formally educated during their time on the road. Paskowitz's philosophy about the difference between knowledge and wisdom led him to believe that the formal education systems in all the countries of the world were not useful. He believes that achieving wisdom comes from real experiences in the world, from meeting and learning from everyday people, and that formal education is dangerous to young minds. Paskowitz himself, however, is a Stanford graduate and has taught at community college, including Palomar College in San Marcos, California.
A consistent theme of health pervaded Paskowitz's approach to family life. Most mornings the family ate a breakfast of multi-grain gruel (as one of his children described it), and they were all expected to be out improving their surfing abilities on a daily basis. Several of Paskowitz's children reached a competitive level in surfing, winning contests and earning endorsement income.
The Paskowitz family stuck together for more than two decades. The eldest son, David, was 23 years old when he finally left the family to find his own life. Interviews with the Paskowitz children in Surfwise reveal that most have mixed feelings about their childhood.
Surfing For Peace
In August 2007, Paskowitz launched the Surfing For Peace project to deliver surfboards to the small surfing community in Gaza. Paskowitz had to persuade the Israeli government to let him deliver the surfboards because after Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007, Israel has only let in essential humanitarian supplies. Paskowitz founded Surfing For Peace together with his own son David Paskowitz, as well as Arthur Rashovan and Kelly Slater after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times which highlighted the lack of surfboards in Gaza.
Surfing For Peace worked with OneVoice International, a pro Israeli-Palestinian peace organization to successfully deliver the surfboards and hold a follow-up benefit concert in Tel Aviv in October 2007. The successful 2007 surfboard delivery gained international attention for Surfing For Peace and launched a global community of surfers and supporters who aim to use the shared-surfing experience to bridge cultural and political barriers.
Paskowitz has been described as a health guru and has a strong interest in health issues. He has advocated natural diets low in fat accompanied by exercise. Paskowitz wrote a book on his philosophy about health and other issues titled "Surfing and Health".
A documentary film about Paskowitz's life, Surfwise, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007 and had a brief theatrical run in 2008. In 2008, in episode 30, Paskowitz was the featured interview at worldsurfradio.com, where he spoke about his life, and his objections to the Surfwise documentary. In June 2010 Variety reported that Sean Penn would produce and star in a movie about Paskowitz.
- Kate Meyers (April 2007). "Health Nut". AARP. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- "Surfing For Peace In The Middle East". CBS News. 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Lee Cataluna (2003-11-30). "Paskowitz clan's surfers embark on a new mission". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- Louise Rafkin (1998-11-24). "It's Never Too Late to Be a Surfer Chick". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- Chaplin, Julia (1999-08-22). "OUT THERE: San Onofre State Beach, CA: The First Family of Surfing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
- EXPN.com: - "Doc" Paskowitz Supports Surfing In Gaza - Expn
- Surfwise (2008) - Movie Info - Yahoo! Movies
- voiceofsandiego.org: News... Aloha, Doc: Questions for Dorian 'Doc' Paskowitz
- "Down-to-Earth Surfers: The Endless Summer of the Paskowitz Family". The Washington Post (Los Angeles Times). 1991-07-04. pp. D8.
- Kershner, Isabel (2007-08-22). "Prescribing Surfboards for Peace". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
- Atlanta Jewish Film Festival website
- SURFWISE: The Film
- Tatiana Siegel (2010-06-30). "Sean Penn's back on surf turf". Variety. Retrieved 2010-06-30.