Passover is one time of the year when many of us dream of escaping the rigmaroles of shopping, cleaning and preparing for the holiday. One way to do this is to sign up for a Passover cruise or a stint at a resort, preferably somewhere tropical and sunny.
For those who like a glatt-kosher Passover and can afford to splurge, these getaways seem ideal. Extended families can come on their own dime, Passover seders are organized and fully catered by resort staff, and the biggest responsibility is deciding who gets to sing Mah Nishtanah.
Of course, it comes at a price. At the Miami Biltmore Golf Resort & Spa (www.biltmorehotel.com) — which boasts the largest hotel pool in the country, and will be hosting scholars in residence Rabbi Marc Schneier and Rabbi Rafael Grossman — mom and dad will pay $2,950 each for the cheapest room, to stay the entire time of Passover. The fee for kids in the same room is between $1,100 and $1,300, depending on their age, which means an outlay of a whopping $8,100 for a family of four before you've even added the 25 percent extra in taxes, service charges and tips, or factored in the commute to Miami.
A 10-night cruise on Holland America's Zuiderdam (www. hollandamerica.com), which sails to the Panama Canal on erev Passover with Cantor Sol Zim, will cost $3,699 per adult and $1,999 for additional kids for the 10-night journey, which includes gourmet kosher cuisine, two private seders, daily prayer services and a supervised children's program. If it sounds tempting, check to see if you have $11,396 on hand for a family of four. And don't forget to add the cost of airfare to Fort Lauderdale.
It's a steep price to pay to escape the tribulations of spring cleaning, making that pilgrimage to the grocery store and laboring umpteen hours in the kitchen. However, the cost of food starts to look quite inexpensive when compared with the expense of a Passover getaway.
There are a few options in- between, though. Many synagogues host communal seders for Passover, and self-catering accommodations give you the opportunity to transport yourself someplace sunny, prepare your own meals on disposable tableware and enjoy the seder with other Jews at a significantly reduced price.
Take Cancun, for example. Chabad Lubavitch of Cancun (www.chabad.org), which bills itself as "your Jewish oasis in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean," will be hosting a traditional seder at a local hotel led by Rabbi Mendel Druk, complete with wine, shmura matzah and dinner. The fee is $30 for adults and $10 for kids for the seder, while a two-bedroom suite with fridge and microwave at the three-star Avalon Baccara costs $375 plus tax per night.
For something completely different, consider the Big Island of Hawaii, where the Kona Beth Shalom (www.konabeth shalom.org) synagogue conducts a community seder on the first night of Passover every year, at a local hotel.
"Although the meal is not technically kosher, we make every effort to follow traditional practice, sometimes a little more Ashkenazic, sometimes a little more Sephardic," cautions the synagogue's Web site.
"The seder is mostly in English, but many of the prayers, and the Four Questions, are sung in Hebrew, English and Yiddish, and sometimes in French, Spanish and Italian. We even have a translation in Hawaiian, and when possible, musicians play and accompany the singing."
Rooms at the oceanfront Royal Seacliff Resort (www.outrig- ger.com), located nearby to the site of the seder in Kona, have fully equipped kitchens, and are offering a special where every third night is free. Two-bedroom suites start at $225 per night.
If you've been considering taking the kids to Lego Land and SeaWorld, Passover might just be the time to head to San Diego. The city's Chabad Downtown (www.chabaddowntown.com) is hosting seders both nights, promising that they will be "spiced with unique traditional customs," at $36 per person.
Right next door to Chabad are one- and two-bedroom loft suites priced at $189 per night, and located close by to the Sunday farmer's market.
How you choose to get away during Passover depends largely on your level of Orthodoxy and personal flexibility.
But for those with a spirit of adventure, and a willingness to celebrate this holiday on new turf and surrounded by different faces, there are lots of possibilities out there.