Super Hospitality
02/19/2013 - 06:39
Steve Lipman
The site of 2014 Super Bowl
The site of 2014 Super Bowl

Are you ready for some football?  A year from now in New Jersey?

That’s when and where the 2014 Super Bowl, the NFL championship game, will take place. Outdoors, in the cold, in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.

Pray for good weather.

Speaking of prayer …

I heard a report last week that most of the hotel rooms in the counties surrounding the stadium, where the NFL will for the first time put on its showcase game in a non-dome northern-climate arena, are already sold out. At premium prices. A handful of rooms are still available, at this early date, at hotels within convenient driving time from the stadium, the news report stated. Also at premium prices – rooms, probably not palatial, which go for under $100 a night at most times, will draw nightly rates of $600, $700 or even more at Super Bowl time.

Scarcity drives up prices, and since Super Bowl seats are relatively scarce – demand annually greatly exceeds supply – the rates that hoteliers can charge a captive audience rises too. It’s good business.

Or you can call it extortion.

This happens in cities where Olympics take place, where national political conventions take place, where similar A-list events that draw people who have the interest in attending and the dough to pay for it, also make an infrequent appearance.

The choice: pay up or don’t show up. Or sleep on a bench. (Not likely in New Jersey in February.)

Jewish history offers another role model.

Two millennia, when the Holy Temples stood in Jerusalem, they were the focus of pilgrims who came from around the Holy Land to pray and offer sacrifices on the sholosh regolim – literally, the three feet -holidays.

Jerusalem, of old was not zoned for high-rise hotels.  Where would the three-times-a-year influx stay? No system of extensive inns; no preponderance of extra rooms in people’s homes.

But, says Pirkei Avot, the Mishna’s collection of ethical aphorisms, never “did any man say to his fellow, ‘The space is insufficient for me to stay overnight in Jerusalem.” In other words, what’s mine is yours.

The Mishna lists that among several “miracles” that “were performed for our ancestors in the Holy Temple.”

It sounds more like being a good neighbor, a mensch, not gouging the needy.

I see this in my modern-day Orthodox community. When visitors come to town, for a wedding or bar mitzvah or for a plain Shabbat, no one is turned away. If one family doesn’t have an extra bed, a neighbor’s does. Or a friend from shul. Or a stranger contacted in the community network. Deena Yellin, a sometimes writer for this paper, wrote the definitive story about this phenomenon about a decade ago.

Many Orthodox communities do have hotels nearby, some under local aegis, some run by national chains, but they are usually the choice of last resorts. Usually, someone offers space, sans payment.

That’s what’s super.

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