Jerusalem's Hotel Yehuda has announced that the first two couples who conceive a child while staying at their 4-star hotel on February 29 will win a "package" that includes "a free bris, bar or bat mitzvah, and wedding," according to a report in Jerusalem Post.
In other words, the hotel will pay for (and host) three ceremonies each involving the first two children conceived in their hotel on February 29, 2016. And the winning package will be reportedly worth $99,300.
Bris and bar or bat mitzvah are traditional Jewish ceremonies. Bris is the traditional Jewish ceremony of circumcision (get a humorous primer here). Bar and bat mitzvahs are religious initiation ceremonies for boys and girls respectively.
Given the socio-political context, fertility has always been a significant - and increasingly problematic - issue in the region, and an unusual campaign like this one is not really unusual if viewed from a regional perspective.
Launched last week by Tel Aviv's Agency 23, the baby-making campaign has been designed to "celebrate" this leap year - an year with an extra day, that comes along once every four years.
But what's the connection between a leap year and pregnancy?
There is a connection.
In Hebrew, a leap year is known as Shanah Me'uberet or "pregnant year." The campaign is simply playing on the word "pregnant." Get pregnant in a pregnant year, on the very day that symbolises a pregnant year - February 29.
"The leap year in Hebrew means a 'pregnant year'. So, the idea was: Come to our hotel on February 29, and if you should get pregnant there that day, nine months later we will give the first two [winners] – who meet the terms with proper certification proving the pregnancy actually occurred on Feb. 29 – a whole package that includes a bris, bar mitzvah and wedding itself."
This is a potential deal-breaker. In a regular pregnancy, it may be very difficult to come up with the exact date of conception.
This is what American Pregnancy Association's website has to say about date of conception.
"For a woman with a regular period, conception typically occurs about 11-21 days after the first day of the last period. Most women do not know the exact date of conception because it can be challenging to know exactly when ovulation occurs. Thus, their conception date is merely an estimate based on the first day of their last period. Special Cases: Women who undergo special procedures, such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, typically know the exact date of conception."
However, the public at large hasn't been deterred by these issues.
According to Tzarfati, the campaign has been a big success and the hotel's Facebook page "is on fire" with over 100,000 views. Around 50 percent of the hotel rooms are already booked for leap day.
For our readers who are going to avail of this unique opportunity, here are a few pointers that'll help them navigate the tricky terrain of leap day procreation.
Talk to the hotel management beforehand about how exactly this is going to work. Whether they will have an in-house physician to check pregnancy claims on the spot, or if they'll refer you to a specific physician who is conversant with the process of conception dating, or if you'll need to bring along your own gynecologist.
This is a fairly big hotel, and occupancy levels on February 29 are expected to be high, so there would be a lot of competing couples engaged in reproductive work. Naturally, there would be a considerable number of pregnancy claims. And in all probability there would be disputes too, as to who was past the post first. Check with the hotel if they have an arbitration mechanism in place to settle such disputes.
This is one of those rare rewards with a long gestation period, spread over years. The first installment will be at nine months and eight days (bris) from the day of conception. The next installment would be for the wedding of the couple (if they are not married) when they decide to get hitched. The last installment will be 12 years later for a girl (bat mitzvah), or 13 years later for a boy (bar mitzvah). Check with the hotel if they have factored in the inflation for these years. The current buying power of a certain amount of money would be reduced considerably 12-13 years later.
4. Mergers and acquisitions/outright sale
What will happen if Hotel Yehuda is sold in the interim? Or if it is merged with some other entity? Will the new owners or the new management honor these old commitments? Check with the hotel if they have made appropriate legal arrangements for such an eventuality.
If you are a hotel guest of non-Jewish persuasion, and want to participate in the contest, politely inquire with the management if they have equivalent prize-schemes for patrons like you. Proceed ahead only if you have been assured in this regard.
Once you have thrashed out these few simple issues with the hotel, feel free to enjoy your leap day adventure.