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Why Is This Luxury Resort Different From All Others?

Why Is This Luxury Resort Different From All Others?

While my body would love to go away for Passover, my soul enjoys making Seders at home.


My friend Rhonda asked me nonchalantly, “Where are you going for Pesach this year?”

Envisioning the whirlwind travels ahead, my head began to spin. “I’ll begin at Target for new shelf paper, sponges, paper goods, cleansers and a new broom. Then I’ll dock briefly at Ralphs for the special deal on shmura matzo and whatever else they’ve got for Pesach that’s on sale. Next I’ll bully my way in to the kosher market for meat, wine, and enough matzo meal to plug up the Hoover Dam. Then I’ll get over to Stan’s Produce for fruits and vegetables. By that time, I’ll have thought of dozens of other things I need, and start the whole thing over again. How about you?”

“We’re going to the Mauna Lani Hotel in Hawaii,” Rhonda said, barely able to look me in the eye.

Faster than you could say “Dayenu!”, my Jewish spiritual training to be happy for my friend battled with a far less noble instinct: insane jealousy. Never having been to one of these glatt kosher shebangs, part of me longs for the unimaginable luxury of an entire Pesach without the endless cleaning or shopping, a week of catered gourmet cuisine, my choice of inspiring shiurim and lectures, and simple relaxation. But with a family of six, the cost of these jaunts sends me reeling. That kind of money pays for one-and-a-half tuitions for a year. It could almost remodel a bathroom. We just don’t have that many shekels lying around.

When I think of the burgeoning business of plush Pesach resorts, all I can say is, we’ve come a long, way, bubeleh. Not for these Jews the toothbrush scrubbing of the glass refrigerator shelves, the scouring of closets in search of a long-lost Milk Dud, or the hefting of briskets large enough to feed every player on the Lakers. No, these Jews can just up and sell the chometzdik house for the week before jetting off to relive the Exodus on a sun-drenched beach. Well, a beach has sand, and Egypt had sand, so maybe there’s the connection.

My good friend Dr. Diane Medved, a clinical psychologist and author, has never made Pesach at home. That’s because she and her husband, nationally syndicated talk show host and author Michael Medved, are sought-after speakers on the Pesach resort circuit. Over the years, they’ve poured their four cups of wine in Coronado, Phoenix, Hawaii, and Diane’s personal favorite, Hot Springs, Virginia. The Medveds have to sing for their suppers, with each of them giving lectures five or six times during the week. Still seems like a great deal to me.

“I know I’m diminishing my reward by not making Pesach at home,” Diane told me, “but I’ve managed to let that pass by. I don’t miss layering aluminum foil all over my kitchen and buying all that matzo. I look forward to it as a vacation.”

Though Diane lectures on relationship and child-rearing issues, her best-attended class is dubbed “Free from the Fat Mentality,” an especially relevant topic given the food, which Diane reports is served in “staggering” proportions.

Diane also enjoys meeting new friends, as well as the choice of participating in communal seders or small family seders, which are both offered.

But other friends who’ve attended resorts have returned convinced that Pesach was meant to be celebrated at home. And despite my slight case of Pesach resort-envy, I also find the hard work of making Pesach liberating in its own way. If I am disciplined, I’ll clean and cook while listening to online Torah classes on the spiritual messages of Pesach. If I am disciplined, I’ll also take time to think, taking a “spiritual inventory” of myself while I clean. That way, both my house and my soul can embrace the holiday on a deeper level.

Also, being so deeply invested in the process of making Pesach makes sitting down to the seder an enormously satisfying feeling. Besides, Moshe didn’t keep barging into Pharoah’s palace demanding, “Let my people go . . . to the Las Vegas Ritz Carlton!” I’m sure it’s possible to have a meaningful Pesach when you are also snorkeling or tossing the dice in a casino in between buffets (is there ever a time when there isn’t a buffet?), but after all these years, finding myself in a resort while celebrating our redemption from slavery would feel like an out of body experience. Or like I won the lottery.

If money were no object, or if I were invited as a guest at a resort in exchange for some speaking gigs along the way, I’d be mighty tempted. (Note to Pesach resort planners: Very few people fall asleep during my humor presentations. And after all that food, they might be falling asleep because they’re full.)

In the meantime, I’m rolling up my sleeves, digging out my Pesach tapes, and starting the Pesach-prep hustle. I’m still not ready or rich enough to conclude my seders saying, “Next year in Palm Beach!”

March 9, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 5

(4) Anonymous, March 17, 2013 6:22 PM

I would LOVE to go away for Pesach

This business about staying at home & thinking about spiritual cleansing, is all very nice. however, after the countless hours of Pesach preparations, all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep until the YomTov is over. Forgive me, but I found no enjoyment in this holiday whatsoever - to me it's a burden that I could very well live w/o.
And although being jealous is part of the Aseres Hadibros, I can't control my enormous envy of the lucky individuals who get to go away and have a truly enjoyable and relaxing YomTov. I don't Hawaii - if I would travel via plane it would be to Israel, but I would gladly drive to a local hotel and for once enjoy the luxury of being served and catered to rather than be a slave in my kitchen.

Rivki, April 14, 2013 9:35 PM

Find ways to change it!

Pesach shouldn't--and DOESN'T HAVE TO--feel that way! It took me years of going through what you are going through to get there--separating what really has to be done for Pesach cleaning and not doing everything I wanted to do (and what I used to think had to be done), not doing spring cleaning, working out how much help I need (we have a VERY tight budget--but I still pay someone to scrub my oven and fridge), trying to work around the children's schedules (they still want to eat 3 times a day, and I don't think they should have to eat pesach food for 2 weeks), but each year gets better. Yes, I'm still tired, and it's still a lot to do, but you know what? I can honestly say that....It's liberating!

(3) Anonymous, March 12, 2013 8:52 PM

Passover at your home will be as meaningful and lovely as ANY resort I can name! :-)

(2) Anonymous, March 12, 2013 8:16 PM

Pesach is a home celebration.

I used to go away to Pesach hotels , but no more. Pesach is all about getting back to basics, no frills. In these hotels it is almost impossible not to be taken in by all the food and gashmius. It just doesn't feel like Pesach.

Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT"L was asked, Is it ideal to spend Pesach away from home?

He answered: Pesach is a home celebration. The Seder is kodesh kodashim (the Holy of Holies) in your own sanctuary, your own Beis Hamikdash (Temple). The father represents the whole background of the Jewish tradition; my own father is handing this over to me like his father handed it over to him. The chain goes back, link by link, to Mount Sinai, to Yetzias Mitzrayim (leaving Egypt). (#264, Ruth I)

True, some people can not make Pesach at home but for those who can but prefer to go to the hotels, the question I ask is: are you go away FOR Pesach or are you going away FROM Pesach?!

(1) Faigy, March 12, 2013 12:39 AM

Loved this!!

I agree with you wholeheartedly, although every so often I stop and think Oh how nice if only we could afford it... Thanks for another great article!

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