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My Sixth Sense
By Menachem Lubinsky
There is a good chance that several of your neighbors may be heading to one of the many “Pesach programs” in major hotels throughout the country. In fact, you might be one of those headed to a 5-star resort somewhere in Florida, California or Arizona. 20,000 American and Canadian Jews will be there as well. The menu will most likely look like the elegant cuisine that you’ve come to expect from an upscale dining experience throughout the year, save for the Matzohs. The chances are that your grandparents or great grandparents would never have dreamt of such a possibility. They would say: “Pesach”?
If you are one of the “unlucky” ones to stay home, you should not fret. You will have so many foods to choose from that you won’t really deprive yourself. If you’re addicted to bagels, pizza, bread crumbs, croutons and the like, do not despair since they are all available this Pesach. In fact, one distributor told me his list of Pesach items exceeds 21,000. And he admits that he does not have the entire list. You might remember a Pesach that was virtually all made at home, devoid of potato chips and other snacks (a bar of chocolate was just fine to be washed down with Saratoga Geyser and Kedem syrup) and the daily diet usually consisting of matzoh, hard boiled eggs and potato this or potato that, especially if you were going on the obligatory Chol Hamoed (interim days) trip.
The purists amongst us are quite disappointed with the transition. In fact, many homes try very hard to emulate the Pesach home of old. To them, the ultimate guarantee of kashrus is when they are in control over the menu and then there is the concept of the mesorah (tradition) that they wish to impart on their children. Others are grateful for technology and the increased hashgacha that has made eating on Pesach not such a challenge anymore. Even they remind us that it wasn’t like that at all in Bobby and Zaidie’s home.
By Menachem Lubinsky
New York…With three weeks to the start of Pesach (eve of March 29th), Jewish newspapers still featured advertising for one of the many programs all over the US. Sources say that an estimated 20,000 vacationers will spend the holidays in major hotels. But they also point out that there will be 1500 fewer rooms than last year, namely as a result of the shutdown of five programs, three by the Smilow family. Guests who booked at some of these programs have scrambled to rebook in other programs. One food distributor said that he believed that the programs were 20% ahead of last year when the recession first impacted the programs. “It is really a consolidation that will in the end have more guests and less empty rooms,” he said. In other words, he points out, the operators will have less empty rooms. There appeared to be some last minute bargains as several of the programs dropped prices in an attempt to fill their remaining rooms. The program operators had become accustomed to the last-minute bargain hunters who trade in the lower prices for some of the less desirable rooms. Yitzchok Neger who operates a major program in Lancaster PA will have more than 1100 guests in what he calls the “Wal-Mart model,” offering prices at around $1600 per person. He and several other operators who are also in that price range hope that volume will allow them to turn a profit even at the lower prices. Even some of the most successful programs still have 30-35 rooms to fill.
By Menachem Lubinsky
Jerusalem…by Idele Ross, KT Israel Bureau Chief…Israel‘s supermarkets will find keeping their stores free of chametz a little easier this year. Rabbi Yona Metzger, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, announced the introduction of a digital barcode system which indicates that a product is chametz at the checkout counter and is thus prohibited from being sold during the Passover holiday. The new technology was introduced at a world conference of rabbis and community leaders held last month in Jerusalem. The Chief Rabbi also instructed kosher for Passover hotels to use disposable dishes for room service during the week long holiday. Rabbi Metzger is urging hotels to start using disposable plates and flatware for room service as much as a week before the holiday begins.