How Much Does a Pesach Hotel Cost?

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hotelBy S. Friedman,

There is seemingly nothing new about Pesach hotels.  People have been going Pesach hotels for long time now.  The innovations are in the exotic locales, culinary creativity, and having both star laden performances and high caliber talmidei chochomim.  The objective is to stimulate all the senses and to placate all types of pleasures.  The modern Pesach hotel experience is sure to last you a lifeti… I mean until next Pesach.

As I stated it’s nothing new, but what I think has slowly evolved is how the Pesach hotel industry has increasingly been catering to the Chareidi public. Think back 20 years ago; how many Pesach programs were there that had “chassidishe shechita, cholov yisroel, non-gebroktz, etc…”?  People from more Heimishe and Yeshivishe backgrounds are now attending Pesach programs en masse.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is something that many people had sheltered themselves from (know anyone who still doesn’t even buy any manufactured products?) and as with so many other things, the doors have been blown wide open.

In the past, for many middle class people, the Pesach hotel was the big splurge for the year, in lieu of other types of vacations or fancy cars etc…  It was also a time for family bonding that otherwise might not have occurred.  Many professionals, such as doctors, did not have the luxury of being away from work for an extended period of time.  Some families lived in modest homes that could not possibly comfortably accommodate the extended family joining for Yom Tov.  Additionally, for many American families the mesorah of the complex laws and minhagim of Pesach were either lost or completely unknown.  The Pesach hotel offered a venue to help the Yom Tov with all of its’ unique stringencies be celebrated with relative ease.

My brother in law conducted his own Pesach Seder a few years ago after previously going to a hotel for all the years he was married.  He had a rude awakening.  A very devout Ultra-Orthodox product of top Yeshivas was at a loss as to what to do.  He eventually was able to gather the information concerning his father’s traditions, but he vowed not to take his family to a hotel again.  He realized that his children had up until that point experienced a “Pesach Vacation,” and not a proper Yom Tov.  Valuable traditions had fallen by the wayside.

For those that are not familiar with the Pesach hotel scene, let me explain why it presents a challenge.  Firstly, if you don’t shell out extra money for a private room, then you conduct your Seder as part of a large dining room.  Some places have a communal Seder, while others let you go at your own pace.  Either way, there are waiters waiting to take your order; making for an uncomfortable situation where you try to avoid eye contact until you’re up to Shulchon Orech.  Singing your own unique family niggunim can present a challenge in a big dining room.  As does the kinderlach’s rendition of Ma Nishtana.  The search for the afikomin usually deteriorates into a grab-fest around the table, or a simple gesture of locking it in your room.  The davening may be nice and the speeches superb, but don’t we have our Rabbonim that we look to for hadracha on a weekly basis?  Shouldn’t we hear from them during the Z’man Geulaseinu?

As someone who works in the healthcare field, I find the parallel from the Pesach hotel to the nursing home quite amusing.  The days consist of going back to your rooms while you wait for the next meal; with some davening thrown into the mix as well.  The food and festivities may be bar none, but the family and spiritual nuances that may vanish are perhaps too costly of a price to pay (in addition to the actual hotel fee!) in the long run.

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  1. dont know where ur getting ur info.any family that has the means to spend any yom tov in isreal florida ,etc .kol hakavod its beautiful.u probably are just jealous and u spew lies about sedorim. get a life

  2. He’s right. Not to mention the halacha issues it creates (bedikas chometz, amira l’akum etc…)
    Also, for a fraction of the money you can buy all the food.

  3. I only hope that parents who take their families to a hotel for Pesach are also paying FULL TUITION for ALL of their children in yeshiva.

  4. in a hotel you accept the way in which Yom Tov is made-the food, minhagim, speed of the seder, presentation ,time constraints etc. At home, the baal and baalas ha bas have to deal with the complaints, many different minhagim, lack of comfortable space and just general demands of the visiting family (the crib is no good; baby cant sleep in same room as cousins or siblings, too cold too hot,gebokts issues, chopped egg or eggsoup,crunchy charoses or smooth etc) PPle just do better when they pay a fortune, than they do when Bubby works like a dog to make a beautiful Yom Tov to the best of her ability. I wish it were different.In a hotel you have no choice but to appreciate what you have paid for-or dont come. A little appreciation on the homefront would be a great topic for our Rebbeim to address. Bubby is really tired (emotionally)

  5. There are many lonely singles, Baalei teshuva and people from disfuntional homes who are unable to make their own seders. There are people who are suffering from depression, nervous breakdowns , shalom bayis issues that need to come. There are those who are ignorant at the laws of cleaning . There are those who live in very small towns or have an irreligious relative. There are those who simply can’t cope and need a well deserved break . please leave pEsach alone for each family to decide and find another cause to Kvetch about like our ever growing youth at risk problem .

  6. I don’t like the idea of it, either-for many reasons. But I don’t think this issue warrants telling other people not to go. Many reasons for going, some legitimate and others for not as legitimate, such as Keeping Up With The Joneses mentality. I don’t like it for my reasons but I am not ready to start telling others not to go-after all, it’s not assur. I do agree that one shouldn’t go if he is on scholarship at school…unless someone else is paying for it.

  7. Mr. Friedman. How dare you critcize the Pesach hotes scene.

    You forgot that most hotels advertise the following: Heimishe atmosphere, Daf Hayomi, and STRICTLY non-Gebrokts. (not just plain non-Grbrokts as you write in your article). I even found a hotel which offers a special menu for people that “don’t Mish” on Pesach!!!
    Your article is well written. I believe that the biggest Yeridas Hadoros is in the field of sensitivity in Yiddishkeit. The Pesach hotel situation is an example of that.

  8. Regarding all of the above comments, everyone IS ENTITLED to do as they please…I think the idea of the article is not to tell or not to tell people how to live their lives. It is just to show how far we have come(down) that you can’t find a paper, (check out any yiddish paper at about this time of the year) and you will notice the ads….funny, how last week I did just that…read to my husband every single one of those ads and where Pesach is going to take place, which singer, what entertainment will be provided. Personally, I was mortified by what’s going on. That’s not to say that you can’t do what you want. It’s just funny (leider) to note where we are in this day and age.
    Yes, there are sick people, baalei tchuva and all those who cannot cope or manage, but it seems, based on the amount of ads, that more, much more than those people are opting out of making a beautiful seder at home….The excuses vary, “don’t mind my business”, let everyone do as they please, etc. etc. All true…nobody is going to foot your bill. But …there is nothing like a beautiful seder at home like our bubbies and zeides, fathers and mothers made…with all he traditions and “varemkeit”. My father, looking regal, like a malach….not a pindrop in the house, just watching and listening and feeling awesome.
    Still…to this day, I must admit….miss my father ah, seder….It’s a whole new world. People don’t appreciate the idea that in order to reap you must sow….all my effort for Pesach comes to fruition, when on that glorious night, we sit down together …eat together, recite and enjoy together. Yes…it isn’t easy….large families bli eyen hora..etc. but HOW CAN YOU COMPARE IT….FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN AND THEIR CHINUCH…THINK AGAIN….DON’T BE SELFISH AND DEPRIVE YOUR KINDERLECH OF A “HOME MADE” pesach.They will never forget it….memories linger on….
    Most people,who bh can afford it….as with everything else these days, just take the easy road…..the easy road may be nice in the short run…..but….remember…what memories have you made for your family????
    I think, like one comment above, maybe we need to focus on why we always need to run away…and more importantly….THE ASPECT OF HAKOROS HATOV…HELPING OUT WHEN ONE IS A GUEST AND APPRECIATION BEING SHOWN TO MOTHER AND ALL THE HARD WORK THAT GOES INTO MAKING A YOM TOV LIKE PESACH. IF EVERYONE CARRIED A BURDEN, AND NOT JUST LEFT EVERYTHING TO “MOMMY”,,,,I think things would look a bit different…
    Ladies, children, come, clean up after yourselves, help in the kitchen, help after the seder….and last but not least, write a card or when you are back home call and tell them how grateful you are and how you appreciate the hard work and effort…That it was a “beautiful” yom tov….CARDS make it VERY PERSONAL…

  9. #8- I think the author leaves plenty of room for people to attend hotels- he’s pointing out what gets lost for many of the people who got who don’t have “good” reasons to.

  10. well written. but for a once/twice in a lifetime experience, it’s not the end of the world. especially if you fall into #8’s category.

  11. Great Article. Just to add my two cents into the facts of PESACH HOTELS. The whole idea of going away for Pesach is ridiculous. I can understand years ago whn older parents went to Fleischman’s Hotel because hey did not want to go their children or there was no room by their children so it made sense. But parents who take their young children to a hotel for Pesach, there is no way that anyone can say that is the way YOM TOV should be. A Seder with everyone in the Hotel and all you are interested in is when is the next meal. It may be a beautiful davening by a wonderful Chazzan, but what is being served to you and your children. The host’s of the hotel try to make you feel like anything and everything is available on PESACH. They serve bagels and donuts and pizza and knishes and who knows what they will come out for this year..They are still working how to make mustard “Kosher for Pesach”. I say stay home (unless for whatever reason you cannot) clean for Pesach and let your kids help. I still remember my father taking apart his in-laws stove and cleaning all the parts (way before there was self -cleaning ovens) and let your children see you cook and bake those delicious Pesachdike foods ( eggs and potatoes taste better on Pesach than all year )and they will learn for their future that ..what Pesach is all about.

  12. Another year and another article about pesach and hotels. But this one hits a point that I have been troubled by for years. What will the next generation do if they can’t afford the hotel experience? Will they be able to prepare a home for pesach if they never saw their parents do it? Will they be able to manage the stress and the tircheh of the cleaning and cooking?

    I am also troubled by something else in this article. Did your brother in law not follow his father’s minhagim for the seder while he was in a hotel?

  13. As the innovator of the largest low cost pesach program in the usa. it is obvious that the writet has never been at a pesach hotel program other then in a nursing home. there are many reasons why people use the pesach yomtov as the yearly vacation or must go away for various reasons. many traditons can still be maintaned . our hotel has many small dinning rooms with no pressure on the seder nights from waiters or anyone else. the mothers and grandmothers are not tired or sleeping and can sit at the seder as queens unlike at home. Chshuve rabbonim,/ dafyomi/ shurim /musser and hashkofa lectures, teen learning programs etc all part of the daily programs. hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised for tzedokkah at all the hotels. Day camp for children with learning and kosher entertainment is provided all day. mr. friedman pls join us ill give you a discount and your own seder room all night and you and your wife can bond with your children

  14. to number two, you epitimize what loshon horo, and rechilus can come out of the comments you make:
    reconsider what you want to say even if your mind thinks that way.
    let people enjoy the site, with sensible comments and ideas.

  15. One year, I spent Pesach at an hotel as the director of the elementary division of the childrens’ daycamp and came home feeling profoundly disturbed. I am writing to share this in the hope that with awareness, this situation can bez”h be rectified.

    Attracting capable counselors is a challenge on Yom Tov. This however, cannot be used as an excuse to compromise on the level of care the children are receiving during the time spent in daycamp. Unfortunately, this is too often the case. The damage that can be caused during this time cannot be stressed enough. Please note that the program is considered a very reputable one and advertises that they have skilled/professional counselors. This was unfortunately not true at all. People were hired over the phone and some counselors had significant issues which prevented them from giving proper care to the children.

    This is an appeal to both parents and program directors – whether you are attending or involved in organizing, I implore you to make sure that only qualified individuals are entrusted with the care of our precious children.

    Deeply Concerned

  16. Pesach hotels are an ancient minhag. In the During pesach klal yisroel left their homes and went to the midbar, they stayed at Hashem’s hotel known as annanei hakovod, they had food and water provided for them.
    you dont want to partake in this beutiful minhag? that is certainly your perrogative, but why (try)to take thiers. unless you are being forced to go oif mir gezoogt) stop worrying about everybody else

  17. #25.. good issue! I have had Talmidim take jobs to make money and they were avadim the whole Pesach with no real Ruchniyus for them. AND they were tempted by the non governed mixing of male and female teen staff members.. inevitable. ……. oy!! Have I lost a few good bachurim over the years!

  18. B”H, I could afford to take my family to any of the myriads of hotel programs out there. However,
    I would never throw away money on such a wasteful and narcisitic event that you call a Pesach Holiday is the prime example of Vayishman Yishurun Vayivot. I don’t care how heilig and heimish the atmosphere. It is the very antithesis of what chag Hamatzos and zman cherusaynu is about. My family hosts 25 to 35 people. We invite people from our community who do not really have family to go to.
    Our sedarim go till 3:00 AM and usually my children and I have even wheeled people home on their wheelchairs at that hour. For our guests it is a chag to remember. For our family, it is one of the highlights that they look forward to every year. Aside from the cooking preparations and the learning preparations, the we splurge for cleaning help throughout yom tov. Especially in the morning to clean up after the sedorim. I can attest that the food throughout our Pesach holiday rivals in quality any gourmet hotel. All at a fraction of the cost. One can order all the food prepared at a fraction of the cost. One can hire a chef and a buyer to prepare and shop all at a fraction of the cost.

    Our family this coming year will be celabrating Pesach in Yerushalayim. We will be renting an apartment and inviting many boys from Yeshivot who do not have family to go to.
    Unlike Costa Rica, Viet Nam, Arizona, Florida, Las Vegas, the Catskills, this is true aliya leregel.

  19. To add to all above mentioned comments, I recently saw an add for a prestigious hotel stating: seperate rooms, seperate sedorim, seperate eating, EVERYTHIN SEPERATE BESIDES FOR THE SWIMMING!! go figure……

  20. After spending the month being inundated by all the ads for hotels NOT FOR PESACH but all sorts of must go to weekends, etc., it is clear that B”H people still have money and let them spend it how they wish if they are fulfilling all their tuition, tzedaka obligations, etc.


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