While every Passover Seder ends with the declaration, “Next year in Jerusalem,” Jewish families of various denominations discovered Passover retreats — themed and structured vacations with activities and meals built around the holiday’s observances, watershed historic events (the exodus from Egypt) — can be tailored to the individual ways they observe, pray, and play (when it is not a Seder day/night).
Beyond the two days and nights of Passover observances, a five-day or week-long itinerary may incorporate guest lecturers for adults; entertainment, educational and recreational activities for children and teens; activities for seniors; day care for infants; and necessary adaptations of a resort’s facilities to certain religion-based practices (i.e. decommissioning the elevators and food prepared within Kosher or Glatt Kosher guidelines). Convenience is also a major appeal, as busy two-career families can leave the Seder planning to others who are experts in catering, activities and logistics.
Jewish specialty travel agencies abound, and several offer inclusive Passover getaways in Israel and practically everywhere else. Kosher Cabana is noted for its rich selection of luxury European and Latin American destinations, often offering regional foods adapted with Kosher for Passover ingredients and methods. Kosherica offers packages at higher-end hotels such as Atlantis in the Bahamas, the Bonaventure in Ft. Lauderdale, JW Marriott in Phoenix and even the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, tailored for those who want to have their Seder and tee time, too.
The agencies’ websites also offer helpful insights into picking the best locations and programs for your family’s particular interests. Kosherica advises once you have settled on a general destination, you may need to have a couple of different hotel options that have Passover vacation packages that appeal to everybody in your group. As you would spend more time at your hotel or resort than you would on a non-holiday trip, research hotels and the specifics of your program. The blog Kosher Travel Club, meanwhile, advises paying attention to every detail to ensure what you pay for is what you get.
Some handy tips:
- Keep tabs on your budget, even though a Passover vacation will often price out favorably when you consider meals, accommodations, activities and entertainment are included in the price.
- What kind of rooms or suites will you need, based on how many people will be in your group, as well as their ages? As your group will spend quality time in the rooms, and special amenities will be required for babies, children and seniors, this will also inform your choice of hotel or resort.
- Do additional due diligence to ensure the overall hotel or resort is family-friendly, and the program planners will take best advantage of its facilities (restaurants, meeting rooms, entertainment areas, kids’ clubs) for preschoolers, kids, teens and seniors.
- You want to be absolutely sure the program you select will fit the expression of Judaism you practice. As it is hard to know exactly how religious a program is just by looking at marketing websites and materials, even with passages about appropriate dress codes, speakers set to appear and the Kashruth level, or what kosher rules are being observed, read between the lines and ask lots of questions. Kosher Travel Club, for example, suggests asking about the pool arrangements. If the pools are set up for separate men’s and women’s swimming areas, the program is more religious.
- Think about what sorts of Passover observances you have planned or attended at home in the past. Next, consider if your family would prefer Passover in a huge resort with activities around every corner (keeping kids entertained), or an intimate group that will more readily enable you to connect with the other guests? Check to see which programs will have the format of Seder your family prefers (a private room for a large family, communal, etc.).