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Out Of The Mailbag: (Cautionary Story About Hotels)

yw logo1.jpgDear YWN readers, 

This past Shabbos my wife, kids and I stayed at a hotel.

This well-known hotel is located in the Catskills and was advertised in a popular Jewish newspaper.

The caterer is someone we know slightly, and the mashgiach is well-known and respected in the hashgocho world.

My wife called the hotel to do some additional research, including asking if the guests were a mixed crowd (in our experiences with frum hotels the crowd usually includes litvish, chasidish, modern, ashkenaz, sfard, and so on).

The person who answered confirmed that the guests were mixed.

Once we actually got to the hotel we saw that there were non-frum guests as well.

This wasn’t particularly surprising since in the past we had been in a hotel where the frum guests had our own dining room, shul, shiurim and quarters which allowed us to enjoy the Shabbos as if we had our own separate hotel.

In this case however we received the following surprises after Shabbos started:

1)At Kabolas Shabbos the person running the whole thing asked if anyone knew how to “lain” the parsha the next morning. There were about 45 – 50 men davening  and no one – including me – said yes.

2)At the seuda itself the non-frum and non-Jewish people ate in the same dining room. The shomer-Shabbos families did not even have a separate corner. One table adjoining ours had a non-Jewish man talking on his cell phone, while directly in front of us was another family with video camera and tennis rackets. The tznius level from the non-frum crowd was what you might expect as well. There were no bentchers on the tables and zmiros were out of the question. The menu made no mention of the word “Shabbos” or “seuda”.

3)On Shabbos daytime, breakfast was at 8:30 AM. (I obviously didn’t go). Davening was at 9:30. An attempt was made at laining, but by shaini I pretty much gave up on being yotzeh krias haTorah. The “Saturday Lunch” (as per the menu) was at 1:00 P.M. Once again, no mention of the word Shabbos or seuda. When we saw butter on the table I was thinking we would have to eat only the nosh we’d brought up with us, since the kashrus was clearly unreliable. Then we noticed that the “seuda” was milchig. We had the dagim, but no bassar. For bentching we used a siddur that we now knew to bring with us.

4)There were candy machines in the lobby with kosher and what I am 99% sure was treif candy as well.

5)Mincha – laining was OK – I wonder if it was the bal koreh’s bar mitzvah parsha.

6)There was a fleishig “coffee party” in the lobby at 6:00 PM. There was a video arcade (open) and a shop (open) off of the lobby as well. Someone was playing the piano and there was a bingo game going on in the lobby.

7)The Evening Meal (same deal as before with any mention of shalosh seudos or Shabbos) was fleishig.

8)There was no melava malka.

I don’t think anybody deliberately deceived us – our understanding of “mixed” i.e. different minhagim among frum people wasn’t the same as theirs i.e. mixed Jews and non-Jews.

We didn’t know what questions to ask and ended up spending Shabbos in a way that we IY”H never will again.

If you are planning on going away for a Shabbos please check all arrangements very carefully  and don’t make any assumptions based on where you see an ad or who the mashgiach is – we certainly wish we had.

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