MAILBAG: Pesach Hotels vs Pesach at Home – Read What This Family Says

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From before we were married my wife has been going away every year to Pesach hotels or what not. Her whole life she never knew anything else. Baruch Hashem we have the means to easily go away every year to all the top programs we have been to over the years, and we have just about been to them all. We have been there and done it all.

Our kids are now all married and their families are growing. We decided that it was time to make Pesach in our house. We hired a private chef (who was on our program last year) and two waiters to take care of the food. My wife gave them her bubbys pesach recipes that they blended with more “today” style food. We hired some more help to clean before pesach. I have to say, being able to sit at my table this year, in my house, with my family, truly felt like malchus. No packing, no travel (yes even first class is a patchke with security and baggage) no tipping. I was able to sleep happily in my own bed.

And you know what? The price of the shopping, extra help, chef and all was a fraction of the cost of the cheapest program we have been to. The money that I saved could sponsor a couple non pesach vacations!

Some of my children grumbled in the beginning. But by the end of first days everyone was thrilled. For the first time we spent quality family time, the ladies stayed in their robes for the most part and didn’t have to do the whole showoff new wardrobe to the world thing like in the programs. I was able to daven normally in shul, didn’t have to worry about kashrus, and we even got to see Shwekey. So what exactly did we miss? The beaches we see a few times a year anyway?

I truly feel bad for those who had issues with their Pesach arrangements this year. Maybe next year they will opt for the ultimate concierge pesach experience at home and save a ton of $$ to boot.

Anonymous from Brooklyn.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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45 COMMENTS

  1. wow, really glad you were able to rough it at home with your private chef, waiters and cleaning help, I have a new hero, you are amazing!!!

  2. the ladies stayed in their robes for the most part I sincerely hope & trust this excludes Seder nite, so as to conform with the spirit/motif of “Na’alchem beYedchem uMakelchem bYedchem”

    Speak to the Late HoRav Avigdor MIller TZKLLH’H [whose 18th Johrzeit is this Thursday] and you’ll know in a jiffy, that there is simply no place like home for Pessach & Seder nite.

  3. I would recommend to the writer to try next year to actually clean for pesach and cook for pesach and your yom tov will be מעין עולם הבא! Those who do it, is not becuase they are too poor, it’s because they know there is no greater pleasure in this world than doing mitzvos yourself the hard way!

  4. I wonder how many people are going to pick up on the fact that this is satire. Tongue-in-cheek. Benevolent trolling to start a discussion on why it’s better to stay home for Pesach. Back in the day you stayed home for Pesach. That was what Pesach was for – getting the family together for the Seder, grandkids and all. Now, with the hotel scene, who has to deal with crying babies and grumpy teenagers? It’s all so simple – and meaningless.

  5. Welcome home. Most heimishe Yidden have known for ages that home was the place to be for Pesach. Obviously kashrus is going to be much better and in your control
    But the biggest bonus is that you get from being Pesach at home, is the chinuch of your children and quality family time. The Seder is designed to allow you to effectively communicate Torah values and the mesorah of “al Titosh Toras imechu”.
    It’s a shame to blow the opportunity
    That no one can afford

  6. I know the intent is to show how you can save money and give the difference to Tzdaka and enjoy the chag much better by staying home. But the text is very poorly written, and all we can think about after reading it, is how out of reality this writer is with 90% of the people who can hardly afford matza or have the luxury to eat meat. Private chef and 2 waiters? you better feel like malchus!!!

  7. You took the words out of my mouth so I will just repost:

    wow, really glad you were able to rough it at home with your private chef, waiters and cleaning help, I have a new hero, you are amazing!!!

    Get a grip my friend

  8. Actually, while we’ve never hired a “private chef”, we have always hired one or two servers to help put out the food and clean up afterwards……its a few hundred dollars for each evening and allows us all of us to enjoy the sedorim so much more with about 15-20 attendees each year. Its a very cost-effective way of doing yom-tov at home and likely within the budget of most YWN readers (certainly a tiny fraction of the cost of a resort).

  9. “the ladies stayed in their robes for the most part and didn’t have to do the whole showoff new wardrobe to the world thing like in the programs.”

    IOW, the ladies do the catwalk when among strangers in order to display their goods.

  10. “didn’t have to worry about kashrus”

    In retrospect, how does it feel knowing your might have been eating chometz or tarfus over the past 25 years on Pesach?

  11. Does anyone know how the whole hotel pesach thingy began? I’m just wondering where did it all begin? Perhaps there was a legitimate reason for people going away for Pesach. It’s quite difficult to comment on something where the origin is not know to me. Can someone fill me in. Thanks

  12. I spent many years working as a Mashgiach in Pesach hotels all over with not just getting all the enjoyment of the program for FREE but also getting paid and even I can tell you after doing this for MANY YEARS, there is nothing compared As good as spending Pesach at home with your family.

  13. I have never eaten outside my parent’s (Z”L) home or my own home on Pesach. We keep all our parent’s chumras (No garlic, no cabbage, white pepper vs black, no fish, and we do not eat gebruchts) We peel all our vegetables (including tomatoes and bell peppers) we don’t have a Pesachdik can opener because we don’t buy anything that needs one! We do have a wine bottle opener to open the Herzog Wine or we can easily unscrew the cap on the Kedem wines. (We use only those two brands and only with the hechsher of the Tzeilemer Ruv. We eat Shmira Matzo (Pupa/Tzeilem or Shatzer) I personally check the matzos one by one for kefulim (some years seem to have more than others) and put the shlaimos in separate boxes from the cracked or broken matzos. We buy very few processed items in jars. I can remember the smell of coffee beans roasting. Now we buy the special run “Israeli” Tasters Choice (which is made in Korea). My mother also made schmaltz, now we buy Lieber’s Olive oil (Rav Weismandl’s hashgocho). We buy some J&J dairy products and Haolam cheeses. I don’t know why but my parents used to buy Schmerling Chocolates. We continue to use this product. We have 3 huge pots, each one individually marked for potatoes, beets, and eggs. I grind my own chrain. I add beets, lemon juice (from freshly squeezed lemons from my back yard), and sugar. Since we don’t eat fish (except for falshe fish) we use the chrain with beef or chicken. When my father (z”;) was still with us I would buy him Mayim Chaim unflavored seltzer and we use Arrowhead water (all purchased before Pesach). Rabboisai! It’s only 8 days! We didn’t miss anything and had enough to eat for a beautiful kusher Yom Tov.

  14. thank you for blowing your trumpet on the moral high ground with your whole self righteousness .as if you belong with klal yisrols balebatish elite and can’t even conceptualize not at least having a chef and cleaning help.to late for you to jump on the besere mensch bandwagon, my friend . the real upper class has been doing the stay at home private chef for years and would never have to rationalize not going to a program because of the hassle or saving money. they just wouldnt go period! they don’t want to wait on line with all the people from the 30″s to get their food your stuck somewhere in the middle ad mosaic ata posaich al shnei asifim? keillu trying to haltzich as if your part of them hilarious I was cracking up on your whole way of putting it down

  15. My business partner has just returned from one exclusive Pesach program. He is divorced so needs a catered YomTov.
    His report:
    All in all was nice to see new faces and plenty time for relaxing. But in future staying home. Its not just the kashrus of the food that I was uneasy about: ‘Mashgichim’ were Israeli boys whose main occupation was flirting with waiting staff in spite of language barrier. The shul was too small so many ‘davened’ in an adjoining lobby loudly chatting the whole way through. Im sure it was a Chillul H for the goyim to see men in Talesim just having a massive laugh for 2 hours. I was horrified.
    There were mostly seperate swimming times but it was hard to avoid noticing into the pool which had a 4ft tarp around it and many women had no issue lounging poolside in bathing suits only. We complained and assured it would be improved immediately but nothing changed.
    Then the mealtimes, we tried coming early we tried coming late but we were always waiting about an hour to be served. Problem was the dining room had been stuffed with tables we were sitting very close to other families so could hear every word said, some ladies were singing Zemirot loudly, some jokes were very inappropiate, so sitting at meals when full house was not pleasant. What bothered me also was that my 2 boys are doing well in Bes Medrash and the Tzniot was lacking. There were many women wearing low necks and short sleeves and even some of the ‘heimishe’ ladies and girls dressed like college kids on a night out…
    So I really hope Mashiach comes this year so we don’t have to spend our Yahadut and money in a hotel next Pesach.

  16. Different strokes for different folks. Some people like to go to a Pesach program. Some people have to go to a Pesach program. Some people like to stay home. Others do some sort of combination. Just because you like your way of doing Pesach and dislike the way someone else does Pesach, doesn’t mean your way is better or worse. Just let everyone do what they like! This discussion has become very stale. Just live and let live.

  17. no one has addressed a very important issue-
    this whole pessach hotel thing causes tremendous jelousy.
    i think that there should be Takanos- just like there are at weddings about these things.
    does it sound normal that one family struggles to buy the basics and can beary afford new clothing and a family from the same community pays tens of thousands (probably more) to chill in Florida?
    i understand that it is relaxing and a,azing- but where is the achrayus for our brothers.
    and by the way if there is no one in your community struggling how about hopping over to eretz Yisroel to see whats happening…..
    i am not talking about poverty stricken families- just normal good people who work hard non stop for a living and can just bearly get by.
    how about being sensative to their feelings?

  18. With our main floor Pesach kitchen which is a mirror image of our “rest of the year” kitchen, a chef, a cook, and 2 wait staff we find Pesach at home to be a pleasure. Our local posek, Rabbi Miller שליטא meets with our chef shortly after Purim along with my wife, and he explains all of the Pesach requirements to them (same chef, same wife every year). The Chef and my wife plan the menus together, he purchases all the raw materials (except for the matzos). Cooking and meal preparation is very “mesudardik”, we wait staff serves and clears so that the rest of us can enjoy a thought provoking Seder without interruption. We are blessed that we can invite singles, divorcees, down and outers, widows to our Seder along with our extended family. This year we hosted 35 at our first Seder and 40 at our second. At “away from home” Seder you could never do this. Plus, we’ve all heard horror stories of the level of kashrus at hotels in general. I know at least one case where a family vacationing at one of these resorts flew home immediately after the first days due to significant problems with kashrus. A desecration of Pesach to be sure.

    Your comments are welcome. And yes we know we are blesssed with the means to do what I described above.

  19. I’ve never understood why adopting every chumrah you can think of ( and bragging about it ) and self denial equates to simchas Yom Tov.
    If you enjoy staying home, good for you. However, you might be somewhat insecure if you must denigrate the practice of going away in order to enjoy staying home.

  20. I have never been to a hotel for Pesach, and have a relative who has never been home for Pesach.
    To each his own, there is no right or wrong here.

  21. B”H we’ve never gone to any Pesach vacation program. We’ve always gone (when we were younger) to my Parents or In-laws, until my shver passed away. Now B”H they come to us or our siblings. Those who truly need to go away to a Torahdike place for various reasons, they should be gebenched. Who are we to judge?
    But come on. Private chef and waiters? Poor baby. Bring me the violin. Make sure your wine is mivushal.
    Nuch ah zach – Sitting in a robe, leil seder? Such a lack of yiras shomayim?! And that is with a chef and waiters? Your poor wife didn’t lift a finger. You should be the last person lecturing others. Fake sanctimonious kavod zeecher.

  22. I have never gone to a hotel for Pesach and I have no desire to even if I could afford it. Staying home with family is the best way to celebrate Pesach, unless you have no family , are single,or can’t for some reason do it yourself. even without eating manufactured food, the menu possibilities are endless and everything is kosher. I wouldn’t trust the best hechsheirim in a hotel for Pesach because so many things can go wrong. The atmosphere is also kosher at home etc. Yes, if you can afford it, get some help or even a personal chef, but we all pitched in at our seder and it was good for the children to help with setting up, clearing up, and putting away Pesach afterwards.

  23. People stop ganging up on him. As someone who can obviously afford to pay for a private chef and waiter, why should he not do so? Is making his wife work hard when he can afford to alleviate her burden a mitzva? Same with the waiters; he wouldn’t be getting up to serve the meal anyhow, would he? Hiring waiters enables his wife to sit by the table with everyone else. Being as this comes out cheaper than going away it certainly sounds like a wonderful option. (this is wayyy beyond what I can begin to afford but why should I begrudge it to him?)

    Regarding robes; royalty certainly wore elegant and comfortable robes. We aren’t talking about nightgowns here. I see nothing wrong with a woman being able to breath and eat by the seder.

  24. Most of the pesach prep falls on me but I learned by example from watching my own mother who works very hard before and during pesach and then by the post pesach clean up. My mother doesn’t kvetch about it and instead joyfully reiterates to us over and over how much schar there is in pesach prep and that she feels bad for those who have to go away and miss out on the s’char of the avoda. She never judges those who needed to go away as it may be due to illness or overwhelming circumstances but wants to stress to us that if we are not in those circumstances we shouldn’t willfully throw away the s’char . It’s the work that results the s’char not just the end- a chometz free pesach. I try to be mindful of this throughout the endless hours of prep and throughout pesach. Every year when pesachs over, my mother counts up how many mitzvos she got from scrubbing the tiniest corner to peeling the potatoes. I hope to someday reach my mother’s level and even do it joyfully!

  25. So far we hear the hotels generally have terrible problems with tznius, kashrus (kitchen staff messing up milichigs/fleishgs and pesachdik/chometzdik dishes and food), pritzus (swimming pools, families intermingling with highly inappropriately attired women), flirting and women singing in front of other families.

    This is Yiddishkeit?! This is Judaism!? This is Pesach?!

  26. Funniest post (among many)
    “My business partner has just returned from one exclusive Pesach program. He is divorced so needs a catered YomTov.”

    Chazal bring down that if you have obtained a get, it is assur for a man to prepare for the sedorim at home with friends and family and he must go away to a hotel. If you meant that he otherwise would have been alone (no friends or family to invite to his home or who would invite him to their homes, than I understand. But your posting makes it sound like a man is “helpless” to prepare a seder without his ex-wife doing the cleaning and cooking.

  27. Nebach, we usually buy a resort for Pesach and redesign it to make it feel more at home. I feel bad that they only have a chef and just 2 waiters. Wish them luck in parnassah.

  28. Actually, hotels were invented in the BC period…reservations weren’t always readily available as the family of one future goyishe religious leader discovered. On a serious note, its interesting that even in the alte heim where many chassidim would travel to the larger cities to be with their rebbe, I wonder if there were informal hotels or other commercial establishments that accommodate travelers for the sedorim? Not everyone could have stayed with family or did they?

  29. RACHEL RENA
    you are making a big mistake
    no where in the torah is communism advocated
    there will allways be have and have nots
    the torah guarantees it and does not restrict what the haves spend on
    a person needs tro live within his means and give tzedaka according to his means

  30. Well this year there was a kashrus problem with my freshly slaughtered wagyu cow that I brought in special for pesach so I had to have my chef buy it in my local butcher store. But b ”h I can afford it, including the loss. I’m not complaining.
    But even at home things can go wrong.
    While the workers were bringing in my new leather loveseat (hasebah-bet) (I give away my couches every year before pesach, it’s too hard to clean them properly) they accidentally knocked over and broke an entire case of Yatir forest wine. (red non mevushal from israel)
    But I controlled my temper cause I remembered the stories about the tzadikim who’s matzah got smashed and didn’t say anything.

  31. Hotels are TREIF for pesach there is no way to properly kasher a hotel kitchen since chometz is never batul so whoever promotes pesach hotels is a machti es harabim!

  32. I have no problem with those who Hasham has, in his infinite wisdom that we are careful to not otherwise question, showered with parnossa b’shefa, spending it as they please. My limited experience tells me that these individuals usually give far more in tzedaka than the Torah mandates. Yes, I actually do know someone who buys new furniture and appliances every year for Pesach. He gives away his “old” furniture and “used” appliances both before and after Pesach to those in need. He just prefers to let jealous people think he is a baal gaiva rather than embarrass those in need by telling them he is giving to the needy, but that is exactly what he does. This gentleman only ever travels Business or First; he simply knows nothing else. There was one occasion when I was on the same plane as him and he asked the First Class cabin attendant to tell the man with the white beard in Economy that he had been upgraded to First. The elderly talmid chocham was overjoyed as he could sit and learn much more comfortably for the 7-hour journey. He was oblivious to the gashmius comfort. The gvir was overjoyed that there was a seat available in Business that he happily paid to upgrade to from his new Economy seat. Rabosai, stop looking at what others have and be overjoyed with what the Eibishte has generously given you. Doesn’t that make more sense?

  33. The Pesach hotel dwellers are generally small tzedaka givers. Much like those who take ostentatious vacations and have big gaudy homes.