Travel, food and good company highlight Passover offerings

BY MARGI LENGA KAHN

Sun, sand and seders. Sound a bit discordant? It makes perfect sense to those who have experienced one of the exciting Passover vacation packages now being offered aboard luxury cruise liners and in lavish hotels in exotic locations. These packages offer vacationers freedom from cleaning, kashering, and around-the-clock cooking and a traditional Passover celebration with gourmet Glatt Kosher food, palm trees, warm ocean breezes, and lots of relaxation.

Lynda Fields, my dental hygienist, raves about the Passover vacation she has been taking for the past three years at the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando, Florida. “They are so accommodating and the food is delicious,” she said.

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Guests at the Renaissance Hotel have three different seder options. They can choose to be part of a communal seder lead by a chazzan (cantor), they can request a private room, or they can be seated in a larger dining room among other tables of families and friends who conduct their own seders.

All options include impeccable service from waitstaff that provides everything from bowls and pitchers for the washing of the hands (U’rechatz), to finding hiding places for the afikoman. And, of course, they serve the traditional Passover, Gebrochts or Glatt Kosher meals including gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzo balls, a choice of meat, chicken, or vegetarian entrees, and a lavish array of desserts.

“There’s always a great selection of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables and you can eat as healthy or unhealthy as you’d like,” Linda said.

“What’s more, you’re meeting people from all around the world,” Linda exclaimed.

During Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover, hotel guests can take day trips, visit Sea World and Disney World, or simply relax by the pool.

Our family friends, Eva and Mendel Klin, have spent their last three Passovers on a cruise ship sailing the Caribbean.

“In addition to the two seders, the cruise package includes daily morning and afternoon services in a beautiful sanctuary, rabbi-led discussions of the Passover readings and rituals, and scholarly lectures about the island’s Jewish history and its population,” Mendel told me.

During Chol Hamoed the ship docks and passengers can take excursions to synagogues in the Jewish quarter where they can meet local Jewish residents. Those who remain on board can swim, exercise, and enjoy the ship’s other amenities.

I found other Passover hotel packages in Florida, Connecticut, Maryland, Arizona, Mexico, Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, the Island of Crete in Greece, and Tiberias. And for those a bit more adventurous there’s a Passover safari in South Africa.

The U.S. land packages range in price from $2,500 to $7,500 per person for 10 nights and 11 days. Cruise packages begin at $3,999. All packages include food and lodging. Airfare and day trips are extra.

“It’s worth it,” says Mendel Klin. “I would positively recommend it. Everything was there and it was kosher. We didn’t have to worry about anything.”

The following Web sites offer information on kosher for Passover hotel and cruise packages: www.kosherica.com, www.totallyjewishtravel.com, and www.koshertravelers.com, http://www.laskotours.com, http://www.vimsholidays.com.

By phone you can reach Kosherica at 877-724-5567, Kosher Travelers at 646-240-4118, and Totally Jewish Travel at 877-724-5567.

If vacationing over Passover doesn’t appeal to you or your pocketbook you can always simplify your life by ordering your seder meal, or part of your meal, from Simon Kohn’s. The market offers a full menu of kosher for Passover foods to accommodate even the largest gatherings and, best of all, they deliver.

And if you want to wow your guests with a deliciously decadent treat make a batch of this heavenly Matzo Bark.

Margi Lenga Kahn, mother of five and grandmother of one, is the Community Relations Coordinator for the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) in University City. She also teaches cooking at the Kitchen Conservatory and in private homes. Cooking is a labor of love for Margi, who enjoys creating culinary delights for family and friends. Please send comments and suggestions to [email protected]

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