By: Leon Sakkal
Florida, Cancun, the Bahamas, Aruba… such have become the vacation destinations for so many in our modern day. When envisioning a getaway from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life, we tend to think big. Many might visualize exotic, sun-soaked islands with five-star accommodations and amenities, while others dream of a journey aboard a massive cruise ship with enchanting music, and delicious foods. While trips like these may indeed be enjoyable, are they really necessary?
Keeping up with the Cohens
Perhaps the media is to blame for painting this picture of enjoyment and relaxation, which ends up being for many a taxing, costly burden. Vacations are well-deserved treats, and money shouldn’t be a cloud over these important times away. On the other hand, the “anything goes” spirit that is so liberating during a trip can become very painful afterward, when you’re home facing staggering credit card bills.
While no one wants to be left home while their neighbors, fellow congregants, coworkers, or classmates are enjoying the time off abroad, it is important to be smart and resolute, and not to give in to what may have become the social norm of vacationing. If we allow ourselves to be judged by other people’s standards, we lay ourselves open to a lot of unnecessary stress. If family and/or friends are within the means of a pricey getaway to the Caribbean, wonderful. It is no reason to stretch your wallet outside of your financial means.
Instead of swiping away on exorbitant vacation locations on the far ends of the world, let us entertain the thought of vacationing within our own continent, and within our financial means.
Here are Some Ideas!
Measuring approximately 277 miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is truly one of Gd’s many wondrous handiworks. For centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur, making priceless memories by what many call the eighth wonder of the world.
But contrary to popular belief, that’s not all there is to do in northern Arizona, by any means. Between white water rafting, hiking and camping tours, wildlife exhibits, and one of the world’s most thrilling ropes courses, Arizona will give you and the kids memories that will last a lifetime. And with “Grand Canyon Kosher Catering” and a Chabad where you can pray and get your daily learning done, there’s no need to compromise your religious duties.
Or why not Charleston, South Carolina? Bursting with centuries-old Sephardic history, Charleston was actually home to Jewish settlers as early as 1695, just 25 years after the English founded Carolina. Community life began in 1749, when its Sephardic population was large enough to organize Congregation Beth Elohim. Be sure to visit the shul when planning your itinerary, as tours are given daily.
When you walk by the lamp-lit streets at night, or past horse-drawn carriages and the antebellum architecture, you just might think you’ve traveled back in time. But just because the city is proud to celebrate its heritage, this doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past. Charleston boasts many exciting attractions, such as kayaking and canoeing, fishing, theaters and museums, dolphin and whale watching, and more. Visitors are welcome to drop by Chabad for Torah classes, minyanim, and Shabbat meals.
Looking for something more relaxing? Perhaps a place where you can just sit by the water and soak up the sun? Well you don’t have to fly several hours to get it! The Adirondack region in Upstate New York is home to some of the most beautiful scenic sights in the Northern Hemisphere. Lake Placid, Lake George, Lake Champlain… what could be better than sitting by, or even sailing on, the great lakes of the Adirondacks (weather permitting, of course)?
Planning a trip to the Adirondacks in the winter can be just as gratifying. Enjoy a thrilling ski ride down McCauley Mountain, or ice skating in the Hovey Pond Park. Snowmobiling and ice fishing are also fun activities to consider.
Keepin’ it Kosher
With the advancement of modern technology, staying connected to important religious resources has never been easier. Apps like “Is it Kosher” will help you determine what products are kosher in any supermarket, while “Kosher Near Me” will keep you informed on nearby kosher restaurants. Perhaps the most impressive is the “Minyan Now” App, which lets you send out a “minyan request.” The user specifies the time and location, and the App alerts other Jewish men in the area about the minyan. After 10 men respond that they can make it, you’re ready to pray! This works great at airports, train stations, and sporting events.
Company is Everything
And lastly, while choosing a worthwhile location is important, it is the people you enjoy it with that can make or break a trip. What makes a vacation most enjoyable is not how much money you were able to spare on frills and activities, but spending quality time with the ones you love. This is, after all, what vacationing is really all about. As long as you’re with the special people in your lives, your vacation will be a success and a memory to cherish.