We Are the Party Shul!

Contributed by Sandara M. Z. Armstrong

Sof Ma’arav Hanukkah parties have been held at our house for the past twelve years. They have been a great addition to our Jewish experience in Hawaii. Last Saturday night we hosted 100+ friends including several of our awesome “snowbirds’ from all over the mainland. We have one couple from Canada, Sharon and Michael, who set up their trip every winter to coincide with our outdoor party. The “Ruach Band” plays rocking Hanukkah songs and we dance the night away under the gigantic banyan tree covered with sparkling blue lights. Sometimes our friends can’t figure out how Don got up into the palm trees to string so many lights. When we show them the light projector on the roof, they howl with laughter.

We usually host the party on the Saturday night of Hanukkah. One particular Saturday in December, Don and I were rushing to get out of the house to attend the Shabbat morning services at Sof Ma’arav. I remember asking him if he had his keys as we stepped out of the front door. He said, “Yes” so I shut the front door behind us. Then he said, I have the truck keys but not the house key! I said, “Uh-oh!” I was assigned the Torah service that morning, so we left quickly anyway. The morning passed beautifully, as usual, on a particular high note as we anticipated the celebration that would follow later that evening. I didn’t even think too much about being locked out of our house (in fact, I almost forgot about it). As we finished up teaching our Hebrew classes, we got in the truck, headed home and then the reality hit. People would be coming over in approximately 3 hours and we didn’t have a way into our house.

We got home and walked around the whole house, trying to figure out how to get in. We discovered an opening in a rather small front bedroom window about six feet off the ground. Don decided that he would be able to hoist himself up and get through the window, but in order to do this, he had to remove his good aloha shirt and long pants. So, there he was in the front of our house in his underwear, which was fine because we had a few bushes to block the neighbors’ view.

Unfortunately, he got stuck in the window and was dangling one half in and one half out, teetering on the edge of the windowsill. His bare legs stuck straight out of the window while the rest of him kept looking for a place inside to land. I was laughing so hard and I couldn’t help push him through. I kept thinking that if Wilma (my best buddy across the street) saw this, I would never be able to live this one down!

Fortunately, Don landed onto the bed head first, came through the house, and opened the front door. I managed to stop laughing long enough to go through the front door. The party was on and we were grateful!