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I went to Florida last week and realized I should not be vacationing. I can travel, but I can't vacation.
I went down Florida because I had to. It's tradition to go to South Florida in the winter, and I am a good Jew. I even pronounce Florida with eight syllables. I am a very good Jew. I've been to Israel, but I know that the good Jews go to Florida when it's cold. Even the Israelis go to Florida. You go to Israel for the pilgrimage festivals. You go to Florida for the winter.
Traveling is good. Vacationing is the issue. Throughout my spiritual quest of being where my ancestors have voyaged for winters, I learned a lot about why I shouldn't vacation. Yeshiva Week is coming and I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did. Save up. If you're going to anything called a destination, learn from my monetary miscomings, and start saving.
VACATION MONEY IS DIFFERENT
This is called empathy.
My Vacation Financial Situation
If you have to find work, in order to ensure you have a place to sleep, that kills the vacation experience.
I have living money. I don't have vacation money. I have homeowners and rent money. I don't have 'put down the month's rent to have shelter for a night' money. I don't have 'I'm going away for Pesach' money. I have 'I will clean my house for Pesach' money.
I can afford the flight. I was set. I clicked that button on Orbitz and Travelocity. I clicked many buttons. I got all the way to the end and saved on the insurance. I figured, I don't need it, I can commit, and I have extra pocket change. I had no idea I would have to pay for stuff once I got to Florida. I heard they were kind people down there. What we call Ba'alei Chesed.
Hotels Cost Money
That would've been nice to know.
I have enough money to get to Miami Beach. I don't have the money to stay. I didn't realize I had to pay for stuff once I got there, like a place to sleep. Hotels cost money.
Calling $1,000 a night for a family 'hospitality' is a mockery of Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming guests. It's bad Chinuch. After all the money spent on Jewish Day School, you don't teach children that you charge four figures for lodging when you have guests. Avraham Our Father wasn't in the tent business for the money.
There's a certain amount you need to make vacationing worth it. I don’t have that money. Paying for the flight isn't enough. I thought it was. You’re there. Now you have to spend $2,000 a day on stuff you didn't even realize would cost, like somebody helping you. I thought people helped with my bags because it's a Mitzvah. They expect tips for their acts of loving kindness.
Be Ready For Other Expenses
Kosher food doesn't get cheaper on vacation.
I Didn't Save Up
It was my fault. I only started saving up last spring.
I don't think ahead long enough to plan a vacation right. I should've started a mutual fund years ago, before the five days in Florida. I didn't plan it correctly. I messed up my vacation plans when I got a masters in social work.
I'm not even talking about skiing. If you have enough money to go skiing, you might as well vacation. And what kind of a Jew puts on an outfit that doesn't allow them to eat?!
I Spent All Vacation Funds I Had
I bought Tefillin.
How Much Yeshiva Week Costs
You spent 30K to send your kid to Jewish day school. That's just one of them. Disney World is not going to be any less than that. For each additional child, add ten thousand to the family trip, and invest wisely. You need a college fund, a Tefillin fund, and a family trip fund.
Your kids are going to expect you to spend and you didn't think that putting the name of a town on a sweatshirt would bring up the price eighty dollars. The kids are going to need proof that you put your savings down on them.
The Family Is Joining
Trips are fine for most people who got a degree that's not social work. However, when you add family to trip, no degree helps with the Yeshiva Week cost. The hotel, the flight the rent a car and the restaurants. The kids will want more pizza. After two days of pizza, the excitement wears off.
SPEND YOUR VACATION DIFFERENT
You're different. Accept it. You don't have money for Yeshiva Week, because you spent it all on Yeshiva.
I Have Different Kinds of Money
I don't have vacation money. I have visitation money. I can travel to visit you. I can go down south to stay in your house for a week.
I can pay for the flight and visit you. You have to provide the accommodations and board. I travel to you for the college spring break experience. That's why I say it's rude when you suggest a hotel. I don't have the other two thousand dollars. I needed another six months of work, and I didn't plan that.
I can travel out to the island and crash by you. The couch is fine. I will deal. For me, vacationing is about finding worse living arrangements than my house.
Positive Family Time
I have the monies for visitations.
I suggest you refocus your Yeshiva week time and do visitations. Visitations are where you make it to the destination where everybody else is vacationing. You then put the responsibility of entertaining your family on your siblings that live there.
Let your brothers and sisters know, if they don’t want you visiting, you’re still coming for Shabbis. That’s the Jewish way. Even the wealthy skiers visitate on their vacation for Shabbis.
The Visitation Sale
Your family won’t go for the visitation when they realize that your sister doesn’t live on the beach.
Tell the family they're going to see their cousins. Let them know how important family is, and that is the reason there won't be any water parks. You will have quality time with the family and your kids will hate you. Accept that your kids will hate you and you will save a lot of money. They will grow up well-adjusted individuals who don't expect you to pay for their children's schooling.
Visitations are also great, as they prepare the kids for the realities of life. No matter how annoying your cousins are, they're going to have to see them at Simchas, and at least one of their friends will end up in jail.
They Need Yeshiva Week Scholarships
They give scholarships to the kids for school. What happens when the grandparents don't pay for vacation?
Every Jewish dad feels this way. It's too much money. Even if your dad is smiling on vacation, he's mad. They all hate Yeshiva Week.
So, just know that when you go on that ride, when you go jet skiing, your dad is thinking about how he's going to have to work time and a half. This Yeshiva week, thank your parents for the flight, don't ask to eat out, and be happy staying at the motel. The hotel money was spent on your tuition.
Next time I shall take you into detail as to what happens to me on vacation, when I go down to Florida and don't save up money. In the meantime, no matter how you spend it. Even if it's at a motel, enjoy the family time.
Call for Chesed: If you have a home in South Florida, please let us know if you are open for visitations.
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I was going to do Kaparos before Yom Kippur, but I chickened out.
You get it? Kaparos is the tradition of placing your sins on something else, the day before Yom Kippur, traditionally a chicken, and waiving it. He chickened out of the chicken. He might've done it with money in the end. But that would still be without a chicken.
Designated stroller parking area. Something every shul needs, so I can get through the entrance on Yom Kippur... Truth is they should have stroller parking all the time. The entrance is always blocked.
Problem: Merv and Bernie will end up parking there. They already take the disabled parking spots and walk just fine. When it comes to parking, every member of our congregation is disabled.
Side Note: Figured out why so many kids come to shul on Yom Kippur. Because they get to eat in shul on Yom Kippur.