guide to the jewplexed


Checking in to the "Romney"?

Was it time to check in to the Romney Motel?

On a recent road trip to Arizona, with the only Jewish connection for hundreds of miles being the Zim freight cars we saw running on the rail line that ran adjacent to Interstate 40, we turned off on to Route 66 to make a stop in Seligman, Arizona.

There in the midst of bars, like the "Black Cat," souvenir stores and burger and ice cream spots like the "Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive In" we found the "Romney." It looked like it had seen better days, maybe during the Eisenhower administration. But that was the charm of Seligman, where every building had some form of nostalgia for sale.
romney hotel
Though my wife and I had driven most of the day, and still had hundreds of miles to go to return home to LA, we debated if we were ready for a night at the "Romney."

There was much more to this discussion than mere cinder blocks and stucco: what were the "Romney's" domestic policies? How did they plan to fill important vacancies? Was their laundry outsourced?

Not that the "Romney" didn't have it's charms, especially if you were looking for a way back to the 1950's when the minimum wage was around a buck an hour.

What was it about the "Romney" that set us off? Was it the area's gun policy? Arizona is a state where unlike California you don't need a permit to purchase or carry a handgun. Besides worrying about the armed criminals, here in Romneyland where even the Barnes and Noble in Flagstaff was bristling with coffee table books about guns, we would need to worry about the armed citizenry in the adjacent rooms as well.

In Arizona, we saw numerous signs posted in restaurants, letting patrons know they could not enter with a sidearm. Apparently others were just as worried about getting accidentally plugged over pancakes.

Then there was Romenyland's illegal immigration law. In Seligman, no one was asking the foreign visitors from Germany, the Czech Republic or France for their "papers." Was speaking Spanish the criteria for "papers please"? The Supreme Court recently threw out much of Arizona's immigration law. Deciding that, for instance, the state cannot make it illegal, for an illegal immigrant to seek work.

The state, though can still ask for a person's immigration papers. Was that also the policy at the "Romney"? No one seemed to know for sure.

I also had to wonder: was the "Romney" any place for a Jew? There was air conditioning, wireless internet, and cable, but where were the accommodations for Jewish values? The Torah tells us to "Love the stranger," and to "Welcome the stranger."
Before you conclude that the "stranger" is somebody else, you might want to take this wake up call from Douglas Hauer, a Boston attorney, who serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council: Jews can be illegal immigrants too.

In the journal, "Sh'ma" he wrote:

"I have met elderly Jews who worked for 30 years without lawful immigration status, only to learn later that the system does not permit them to collect Social Security benefits. I have met accomplished professionals who were brought to the United States as young children by parents who lost their immigration status. These Jews grew up culturally as Americans, but they are illegal. There is no mechanism for curing that status."

We checked and the "Romney" didn't seem to have much of a policy for straightening out the status of their guests, that is, except for a high tech border fence.

Where did we end up staying? That day, neither of us voted for the "Romney." And considering some of the place's guest policies, we also really doubted, if on a return trip in November, we would throw in for an extended stay, say, for four years.

Instead, we headed on home to California, where we could get better values for our buck.



Edmon J. Rodman has written about making his own matzah for JTA, Jewish love music for the Jerusalem Post, yiddisheh legerdemain for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, a Bernie Madoff Halloween mask for the Forward, and what really gets stuck in the La Brea Tar Pits for the Los Angeles Times. He has edited several Jewish population studies, and is one of the founders of the Movable Minyan, an over twenty-year-old chavura-size, independent congregation. He once designed a pop-up seder plate. In 2011 Rodman received a First Place Simon Rockower Award for "Excellence in Feature Writing" from the American Jewish Press Association."