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Chanukah on the Beach

Love on the Rocks has Nothing on Chanukah on the Beach
By: Daniel Horowitz
Published: December 27th, 2011 in News » World
As Jews, we have debated much since Moses first descended Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.

 

What is a Jew?

 

Who is a Jew?

 

Why are there 8 hotdogs in a package, yet only six buns?

 

As the saying goes, ask three Jews a question and you’ll get a dozen opinions.

 

But, as a spiritual if not terribly religious Jew myself, I recently spent Chanukah pondering what might arguably become the Hebrews’ next great debate which is, “if you light a menorah in a Florida hotel’s non-smoking room, are you breaking a rule?”

 

Surely, the most learned Jewish minds, the most respected and educated rabbis and brilliant rebbes will take turns debating this essential part of the Jews’ life. After all, we are a nomadic people, so surely it will happen with great regularity.  

 

During my recent vacation to northern Miami, Florida, just prior to the start of our Festival of Lights, my wife brought one of those aluminum, “travel” menorahs, along with the requisite candles, so that we could, in the land of sun and surf and (gasp) seafood, celebrate the holiday along with our two young children.

 

After the first night of merriment, with the smoking gun in the form of the menorah as it were, sitting out in full view on our hotel room’s kitchen counter, a note was slipped under our door, reminding us that this was a “non-smoking room” and that the use of matches or any incendiary device would not be tolerated.

 

Slightly amused, but extremely pissed off, about what I perceived as the hotel manager’s arrogance and ignorance, I demanded to see him, and awaited his apology. The Spanish gentleman arrived, shaking my hand vigorously while smiling and wishing me “Felice Navidad”, over and over again, while gesturing to the lobby’s gargantuan Christmas tree.

 

After tearing the note up and throwing it in the waste, he apologized in broken English, and said, “no problem, you are a Jew, yes?”

 

In broken Spanish, I replied with a phrase that I later discovered translated to “we need more towels”. Either way, it seemed that we had reached an understanding and, after returning to my room, I found Chanukah cookies on our table, no doubt a lovely gift from the hotel.

 

On the second night of Chanukah, as my wife lit the shamish and the second candle while she recited the appropriate prayers, we celebrated with songs before tuning into my daughter’s favourite Chanukah show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” entirely in Espanol.

 

We awoke the next day to find another letter from the management asking us, in a decidedly more stern language, to “cease and desist using any and all incendiary devices” or we would be asked to leave the hotel.

 

To make a long story short, we ended up taking our menorah out onto the balcony where we happily lit our candles to our heart’s delight while singing to the backdrop of waves hitting the shore.

 

The next night, as my wife was putting our daughter to sleep, my son and I did one better, sneaking out of our hotel room and over to the Atlantic Ocean, matches and candles in hand. There, with only the moon to guide us, we lit yet another Chanukah candle.

 

Miraculously, the bathing suit I wore on that special night, remained wet not for one night, but for eight nights!

 

A Chanukah miracle?

 

The next day, my family and I even found more solace in our adopted city by attending a raucous and festive Chanukah party held by Chabad where my son rock-climbed which, you could argue is a Jewish custom started by the aforementioned Moses coming down a helluva mountain to start it all, and played all kinds of games.

 

So, while this was anything but a typical Chanukah, it is one that I believe will live as our most important holiday, one that taught my son that no matter where he may be, in the snow and cold of Toronto or the heat and sand of Florida, in English, Hebrew or Spanish, Chanukah and Judaism, is in his soul.
Related articles: Chanukah, Hanukkah, Jew, Mount Sinai, Florida, Snow Birds, Miami, Charlie Brown Christmas, Bathing Suit
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