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Crypto donations, a seashell menorah and dreidel, a congressional candidate’s potentially illegal vote

Roger Abramson climbs a a ladder to fix shells that have fallen off a seashell art piece
Carl Juste
Miami Herald
Roger Abramson recalls why he created a menorah and dreidel out of seashells 20 years ago and it’s still used to celebrate Hanukkah on Lincoln Road. On Nov. 18, Abramson, 87, climbed on a ladder to fix shells that have fallen off.

The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation is now accepting cryptocurrency donations. The artists behind the giant menorah and dreidel on Miami Beach. Plus, did this Republican congressional candidate cast an illegal vote?

On this Monday, Dec. 6, edition of Sundial:

Crypto donations

Cryptocurrency is quickly moving into many areas of life. Most recently, charities.

The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation in Miami now accepts donations in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The nonprofit is dedicated to raising money for patients and families in need.

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“Donors have contacted them in order to find out if they could give using crypto instead of cash,” said Veronica Zaragovia, WLRN's health care reporter. “And these are these tend to be younger donors, usually millennials, who have made very large gains with cryptocurrency and they want to do some good.”

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency where transactions are verified and maintained by a decentralized system. In other words, there’s no bank or central authority.

It’s among the first in South Florida to make the move in accepting donations in this way — but crypto is not new to our area. Several cities have talked about getting in on it. But there are some concerns with this digital money.

“Most people advise you [that you've] gotta cash out right away because the volatility is just so extreme that that's one reason to just cash it right away,” Zaragovia said.

She explained a situation where the Bitcoin value dropped from the time the donation to a hospital was made and by the time it was cashed out the amount of money coming in was less than what was donated.

Crypto donations

A seashell menorah and dreidel

You may have seen it if you’ve walked along Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Two massive sculptures stand in honor of Hanukkah.

These two sculptures — a menorah and a dreidel — are favorites for locals and tourists to get those Instagram-worthy photos.

“For years, I had been collecting seashells. I had them all over and I had to do something with them, my wife was kind of saying, ‘it's either me or the seashells’ so I figured this would be a good place to put them,” said Roger Abramson, the artist behind the sculptures.

He created the sculpture 20 years ago and it’s been part of the community’s celebrations this time of year since then. Along with the experience of maintaining these sculptures, he has also collected stories about the people who encounter them.

“I also was very, very gratified when six Muslim men were praying to the east in front of it. And it just gave me such a wonderfully warm feeling that people, regardless of religion, could understand that this [Hanukkah] is the festival of light,” he said remembering an anecdote from two and a half years ago.

The sculptures are staying up long past the holiday into the rest of the holiday season.

A seashell menorah and dreidel

A congressional candidate’s potentially illegal vote

In the race to replace former U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings in Congress, who died in April, a candidate named Jason Mariner won the Republican primary.

But there are some concerns that Mariner may have voted illegally. He’s a convicted felon and the state of Florida can't tell if he's eligible or not — or how that could affect his candidacy.

Still, he's the nominee facing off against Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in the special general election in January.

WLRN reporter Danny Rivero investigated this story and what Mariner's case could tell us about Amendment Four in Florida. Read his full report here.

A congressional candidate’s potentially illegal vote
Jason Mariner speaks between an American and Floridian flag with a Jason Mariner sign behind him on a wall

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.