Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Traveling while Jewish: Shabbat

One of the biggest challenges posed by traveling over Shabbat turned out to be finding a place to stay that has old-fashioned mechanical locks rather than electronic key-cards. In some cities with major Jewish populations, a few major hotels do offer the option of mechanical keys, but elsewhere this is simply not an option. Our solution: try bed-and-breakfasts. This might be a counter-intuitive option for the shomer shabbat traveler. After all, (1) you might have kashrut issues with eating at a B&B, and (2) you might have shabbat issues with eating at a B&B. However, they tend to be small and homey which means no elevators and no electronic keys. This makes it worth-while even if you don’t eat the food. (And often there will be fresh fruit and cereal available, so even the food may be workable).

Another issue, of course, is lights. If you’re in a hotel room, you need to have lights on in order to do anything, yet it can make it difficult to sleep at night (and you likely don’t have a second room to solve the problem). Plus if you leave lights on they are likely to be turned off the next day by the cleaning crew, leaving you in the dark in the hours prior to havdalah. The solution: bring a wall timer with you. Hotel rooms almost always have lamps plugged into the wall, so you can have a timer and avoid both sleeping in the light and reading in the dark.

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