Culture Tip #3 (you will get more from these tips if you read them in order)
One of the 613 commandments of the Shomer Shabbat (see previous tips) prohibits carrying anything or picking things up outside the boundaries of your property during the Sabbath. This is to ensure the Sabbath is a day or rest as prescribed in the Bible.
To some this means nothing can be carried over the property line and when I say nothing, I mean nothing....not even keys, a purse, a child or a baby. It may also mean nothing can be picked up outside your property line.
However, the property line may extend (depending on how traditional you are) to commonly held property (traditionally called Eruv). In today’s world the Eruv refers to the string around commonly held property. The Eruv or Eruvin needs to be marked by the Rabbi and allows adherents to the Shomer Shabbat to extend the boundary of their home….and to carry things inside the Eruv.
Miami Beach has had an Eruv (pronounced A-roove) for over 20 years. In Miami Beach the Eruv is quite large and consists of miles and miles of string that is erected on poles, lamp posts and between buildings. The eastern boundary of the Eruv is the easiest to find. It parallels the boardwalk in South Beach. From the boardwalk find a pole and look up approximately 12 feet and you will see the string.
Note click on the picture to enlarge. If you focus on the pole you will see the Eruv (string)
I've also learned that Eruv's are checked weekly to make sure they are complete on a weekly basis and there is an Eruv hotline so people can check on the status of the Eruv.
For other locations that have Eruv see
For more information on Eruv’s
Culture Tip #1 (you will get more from these tips if you read them in order)
Miami Beach has a large Jewish population and is THE place to go to a Jewish deli (I’ll talk about that later). Miami Beach is also one of the few places in the US where you will see Orthodox and the more conservative Jewish people in traditional dress and will also come across some of their customs.
I’ve created several tips on the customs you are likely to see if your keep your eyes open. Please remember that I am a Catholic girl and while I’ve been questioning my friends about these practices for years I am sure my explanations are quite simplistic. I also need to note that ALL of Jewish people (in the world and South Beach) don’t practice these traditions and many of the traditions I will be discussing are those of the most “traditional” and do not necessarily reflect the general population. With that said…many of these traditions have a special place in my heart and memories and are worth discussing here.
The Judaism breaks down into different beliefs and practices just as the various Christian religions do. There are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Haredi, Hasidic, Modern Orthodox and Samartianism Jews to name a few. The Orthodox and Hasidic sects are two of the most traditional and are the ones that often stand out from the general population in dress, practices and hair styles.
These various Jewish denominations differ in the degree to which they follow the Halakha or Jewish religious law. The Halakha covers biblical law, rabbinic law, customs, traditions, and even provides rules on daily life. The Jewish population in Miami Beach is quite diverse in their beliefs and practices and to the degree they follow Halakha.
Be sure to check out my other custom tips for information on subjects such as being kosher, the Eruv and the Shabbat elevator.
The pictures below are of the South Beach Jewish Museum. This is a historic site and was once a Temple in the community
Culture Tip #2 (you will get more from these tips if you read them in order)
Miami Beach is one of the few places to see the some of Jewish population following the rules of the Shomer Shabbat. The Shomer Shabbat is a strict interpretation of one the Ten Commandments….to observe and not work on the Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath or Shabbat extends from between Friday evening to Saturday night.
The Shomer Shabbat has 613 commandments that rule what is done during the Shabbat. Adherents to the Shomer Shabbat are very rare in the United States (and the rest of the world) so being able to see these practices in Miami Beach is a real gift.
Those who strictly observe the laws of Shomer Shabbat do not cook, spend money, write, or turn on or off electrical devises from Friday evening to Saturday night. One of the rules that stands out is the one that forbids creating a spark or using a fire. In modern times this means one cannot operate an electrical appliance, cook a meal, press an elevator button or drive a car during Shabbat.
Since those that follow the Shomer Shabbat cannot drive….on Saturday you are very likely to see Jewish people in traditional dress walking the streets of Miami Beach. It’s a wonderful sight and one that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the US or the world.
Another thing you may come across is what I call the “Shabbat elevator”. Since adherents to the Shabbat cannot cause a spark, they cannot press the button to call the elevator or pick which floor they wish to visit. Therefore some buildings in the area set their elevators to go up and down all day and to automatically stop on every other floor during the Shabbat. I had a girl friend that lived on the 17th floor of such a building. It took FOREVER to get to her apartment during Shabbat.
There are other ways around the rule against creating a spark that some use (depending on how strict they are in these beliefs). Some use “Shabbat clocks” which are timers that are set before Shabbat starts and automatically perform an action that people are prohibited from doing during Shabbat. Uses of the Shabbat clocks include turning on or off the lights and turning on the crock pot so dinner can be cooked. There are also “Shabbat or Kosher lamps. These lamps are left on during Shabbat and use a compact fluorescent tube. Fluorescent tubes are used since unlike incandescent bulbs do not have a “flame”. These lights look a bit like lanterns and have a light blocking shade that turns allows the light to be blocked when desired.
This is the Versace Mansion where he was murdered on the front step on July 15th 1997. For some people it is a morbid curiosity, for me it is admiring an awesome residence. The medusa heads adorn the iron gates surround this mansion, as is his famous Greek pattern he used on most of his mens clothing designs. I was lucky enough to gain entrance to this amazing estate, finding out that the house is now an exclusive members only private facility with annual club dues in the range of 30,000 with every visit being an additional 3 or 4 thousand. The membership is by invitation only. Sorry about the boarded up windows, the pics were taken when Hurricane Ivan was off the coast of Jamaica.
Miami Ink is located at 1344 Washington Ave, across the street from most of the clubs, and was made extremely popular by a cable televsion show focusing on the specific customer requests and the artists who fulfill them. I was told by people I met in Miami that, because of the increased popularity, it is hard to get a tattoo here, so you might want to call ahead and make an appointment.
You'll find that Miami feeeeels very different from the rest of Florida. Heavily influenced by South America, and a bit by Europe as well. If you speak Spanish, you're in luck, as so does most of Miami.
Locals (in South Beach/Miami Beach/Coconut Grove) are friendly, warm, and pretty relaxed, probably due to the heat and the hypnotic effects of waves rolling in on their beautiful beaches. Life here revolves around the beach, even if not overt, it's an undertone.
People spend a lot of time outside, rollerblading, sprawled out on the beach, playing volleyball, walking their dogs OR sipping drinks (mojitos!) at sidewalk cafes. Dinner happens pretty late, nightlife often lasts through the following morning.
South Beachers are generally very aware of their appearance, and spend much time doing what it takes to look gorgeous (or at least try, sometimes it's scary).
The music wafting through the streets, shops, clubs and restaurants is mostly latin or house/techno.
When I imagined a visit to South Beach, I imagined bronzed, beautiful people, parading or rollerblading along the beach, with their personal stereos dictating their pace, tourists left gaping in their wake.
Well, strolling along the South Beach Promenade wasn't quite like this, but close enough to make me happy! There was plenty going on, such as volleyball being played by scantily clad locals, a few bladers swerving around us, along with young couple with prams and tourists wanting to be apart of the South Beach atmosphere.
Continue north from the Promenade and you will come to the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk runs along Mid Beach, from 21st St to 46th St. This is a fabulous place to walk or jog or rollerblade, with the sandy beach and ocean on one side, and the backyards and pools of the glamorous resorts on the other side.
More than cultural guidance for travelers, but advice to anyone who dives into the world of commercial and advertised existance, if anything, the name "South Beach Diet" does not apply to what real South Beach locals eat... sushi and seafood, yes, but not all the overhyped diet meals we are beginning to see at the grocery. A real South Beach Diet consists of seafood, alot of sushi, good Cuban meals and alot of good alcohol to polish a great dinner off.... and dancing into the night, with great sunny afternoons of outdoor activity (boating, rollerblading, golf) before it all started. Its not what you eat, its the lifestyle you live.
Remember what South Beach is- trendy. if you are coming here to be in the center of the absolute party mecca, then the same club you went to in March might be dreadfully empty the same night of the week in July. Actually, sometimes the clubs change names entirely. The trendy spots change from month to month, so it is truly up to you to find out where the party's at.
Usually on South Beach you will find this huge sandcastle being built. I saw this drunk idiot run through it once. The police tackled him as if he was wanted for a double homicide. The sandcastle is really cool, and probably takes a long time to build, so for those frat kids on Spring break- leave it be.
Many people come to Miami Beach to party all night at the various clubs and bars. Most cities do not have such all night and all day drinking festivities, so many people are not accustomed to such excess. If you're going to go out and do this, be sure to pace yourself in order to not get sick. One surefire way to prevent, or at least lessen, the effects the next day is to take two aspirin and drink plenty of water before going to bed if you've been drinking. Also, a big greasy breakfast the next day helps with the nausea, if you have the, ahem, stomach for it.
As a lot of people know , Halloween in the US is a BIG deal. Miami beach is no exception. Ocean drive is the long catwalk that eventually leads to Lincoln road. This is the place to sit and watch ( if you have reserved a table) all the freaks go by. Th costumes range from scary to barely there, i.e. body paint, a g-string and some wings. The most important thing is to have fun, be crazy and show yourself!
One thing to know while in Miami Beach is that everything starts later.
Coming from the West Coast we were thrilled to get reservations earlier in the day for 8pm at The Pearl - a trendy spot.
Little did we know we would be the 2nd table seated and when we left at 10pm it was only 1/3 full. This was on a Thursday night even.
Clubs open at 11pm and stay open until 6am.
So get on the schedule-
wake up 10am,
11am eat breakfast/lunch
12:30-2pm walk around Ocean Blvd
2:30-4:30 lay by pool
4:30-7:30 nap/relax in room
9:30 - dinner
11:30 - until you drop - dancing
Repeat everyday until it feels right!
To get an idea of the latest "in" places, some reviews on restaurants and nightclubs, and for a general idea of the oddity that is this city, pick up a copy of the Miami New Times. The Times is available for free and can be found at newsstands and most newspaper machines.
Every year, the magazine Ocean Drive organizes a volleyball tournament. What makes it so special? Only models play!!!
The tournament lasts one weekend, both Saturday and Sunday all day, on Ocean and 9th street, and attracts a very big crowd, not surprisingly. At night, they also have many events going on in the fashionable South Beach clubs.
So for all you guys out there, if you want to see all these models in bikinis and playing volleyball, see you next year in February!
PS: Yes girls, there are also guys models participating....