Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hanukkah in Hawaii

Once in a while I need some down time when I am no longer the doctor with the beeper.  To get away from it all I drilled a hole through a Dollar Store globe, using my home and the center of the earth as the two reference points.  Where the nail emerges on the other side is the farthest place from my home.  It is in the southern hemisphere in the Pacific.  We settled for Hawaii's Big Island as a suitable surrogate.  It's taken about half the week but I no longer feel compelled to help out at the hospital, as much as my work challenges me and creates a substantial fraction of my identity.

When we transferred from the airport to the hotel, my wife commented on a large Hanukkah menorah set up on the side of the road.  Yesterday while walking in search of breakfast and to get my bearings I got to see it up close.  Later in the day, again to get my bearings, I walked along the coastal road, a series of emporia where you can purchase genuine Kona coffee and T-shirts and any other imaginable tchotchke to bring home from the cruise, as the ships have a scheduled stop nearby.  Sitting amid the shops and restaurants was a unique one called Falafels.  It was marked Kosher.  Chabad has a presence on the Big Island.  I spoke for a while to the Sheliach who has been here a few months, trying to make a go of it with his brother.  The island's Jewish population peaks during Pesach, they get about 200 for Seder.  Shabbat services are not yet ready to materialize.  I doubt if they have a Torah but didn't ask.  Restaurants post their menus, either by custom or law, so I read through this one.  Simple Middle Eastern fare, shwarma and falafel at reasonable prices that cruise passengers would be willing to pay for lunch on a day trip before they return to the pre-paid gluttony of their vessel.

So with the help of the Rebbe z"l, Judaism has a presence most anywhere.

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