Miami Beach

Seashell art celebrates Hanukkah in South Beach

For the past 13 years, Roger Abramson has been adding seashells to his dreidel and menorah now on display on Lincoln Road.
For the past 13 years, Roger Abramson has been adding seashells to his dreidel and menorah now on display on Lincoln Road. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

While strolling Lincoln Road with her dog Tuesday morning, Shana Saka stopped at a large dreidel sculpture made of seashells and donned a turquoise sweater adorned with a menorah, wrapped gifts and dreidels.

She wanted a picture in her loud “ugly Hanukkah sweater” with beloved Max, her gray Schnauzer, in front of the 1,600-pound seashell sculpture currently displayed on Lincoln Road at Euclid Avenue. Next to it, which creator Roger Abramson calls the “world’s largest spinning dreidel,” is an even larger menorah that is being lit throughout Hanukkah.

“OK Max, sit! Say cheese!” she said as she posed with her boy.

Each sculpture is made of more than 35,000 seashells, most gathered on Miami Beach, according to Abramson. Not a sculptor by trade — the Ohio native has spent his life in the music business and as a civil-rights activist — he decided to make the menorah in 2001 after a similar display with concrete and wood was defaced and didn’t fare as well in the elements.

“No one was going to destroy this one” he said Tuesday.

The dreidel joined the display in 2003, and the two pieces became a popular attraction to locals and visitors alike during the holiday season. The sturdy sculptures are held together with a combination of exterior adhesives Abramson has developed through the years. Every year, before he brings it out, he has to make repairs with new shells when it comes out of its warehouse home.

“My favorite part of it is that it’s nonconfrontational,” Abramson said. “It’s not just Jewish people who come to take pictures. Christians come. Muslims come. Everyone visits.”

The holiday-themed art is sponsored by Chabad House in Miami Beach, led by Rabbi Zev Katz.

Saka, 22, has lived in the Beach her whole life and loves coming to see the sculptures every year.

“They’re super cool,” she said, as she showed off another charmingly ugly sweater, this one a gray getup with a menorah in the center being held up by two smiling dreidels. “It’s a Miami Beach staple.”

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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