Vol. LXIX No. 14 | 13 Nisan, 5775April 2, 2015 | njjewishnews.com
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Close to home, close to your heart.
Happy Passover 5775
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A fathers memory is an inspiration to
serve and to smileRabbi Debra Orenstein
Special to NJ Jewish News
On Passover, among other Jew-ish holidays, we recite Yizkor to honor the memory of those who have died and, equally, to affirm and maintain our connection to them. Like many Jews, I treasure the opportunity offered by Yizkor to share my memo-ries and my loss with my community.
But, as anyone who has ever lost a close relative can tell you, you dont need a formal ritual to remember.
The season itself is a reminder. If you had a relative who led the seder or cooked for the seder, or had even a minor annual role at the seder then memories will inevitably come at this time of year. You dont have to wait for Yizkor.
My dad, Rabbi Jehiel Orenstein, was rabbi and then rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth El in South Orange. He led seders. He led Yizkor. But I find myself thinking of him, as Passover approaches, for reasons that are both more sublime and more ridiculous than those.
First, the sublime: My dad had a profound love for freedom. He was an advocate for the release of Soviet Jews, travelling with my mother to Soviet Russia in 1959 (on their hon-eymoon!) and again in the 70s and 80s, bearing Jewish books and other contraband. For my dad, freedom wasnt achieved merely by getting Jews out of Russia. He believed, as the Haggada teaches, that ignorance of God is a kind of bondage, and so he
devoted himself to the Jewish educa-tion of Russian emigres.
In the 1990s, my father learned about a man from Cameroon seeking political asylum because he had been thrown in jail and tortured for criti-cizing the government. Not only did my parents invite this man, Christo-phe Dosat, into their home, my father attended every hearing and deposition with him. Today, he is an American citizen.
See Father page 30
Seder startersHERE ARE a few activities to do at the seder to help you raise awareness of modern slavery; more ideas are available at freetheslaves.net/Judaism. Eat an extra dose of maror (bitter herbs) because of the bitterness of slavery that persists in the world. Put a padlock on your seder plate, and when the inevitable questions come, read the modern slavery fact sheet available at freetheslaves.net and discuss the commandment to love the stranger, for you were strang-ers in the land of Egypt. Set an extra place setting at your seder table, and leave an empty chair, for a person who is not yet free but will, we hope, be able to celebrate freedom next year. Brainstorm around the table: What are 10 plagues of slavery and what are 10 miracles of freedom? Serve fair-trade chocolates for dessert and sing the Dayenu Fair Trade song. Sung to the familiar Dayenu melody, it supplies new words in rhyming English about slavery in the chocolate trade. Give half the money you planned to spend on afikoman presents to Free the Slaves (freetheslaves.net/Judaism).
Rabbi Jehiel Orenstein
24 April 2, 2015 J NJJN
A Zissen Pesach
Andrew M. Hutter, M.D.Kevin J. Egan, M.D.
Neil Kahanovitz, M.D.Mathew Zornitzer, M.D.
David M. Loya, M.D.
CENTER FOR ORTHOPAEDICS1500 Pleasant Valley Way Suite 101
West Orange, NJ 07052(973) 669-5600
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P assover is one of the most social Jewish holidays, with multiple generations getting together to celebrate. It can also be one of the most labor-intensive, for those Jews who kasher their kitchens for Pass-over, changing dishes, lining counters with foil, stocking up on special foods, and preparing the many festive meals for friends and relatives.
Due to this, companies offer-ing kosher for Passover getaways, in which everything is taken care of for the eight-day festival, have become increasingly popular. Options range from stays in Arizona, Florida, Cali-fornia, the Catskills, and Cape Cod, to Aruba, Mexico, France, Italy, Israel, and more.
Abby Polin of Skokie, Ill., is a sin-gle parent who works two jobs, as a vice president of mortgage lend-ing and cofounder of figvine.com, a website that brings together small service providers and users. The ease of a Passover vacation is immensely appealing. Weve been going away for Pesach for about 13 years. Weve gone to the hotels in Florida, gone to Israel a few times. My family is spread out all over, and its such a nice time to get together, she says. You dont really have to prep the house.
Florida is where the Passover vaca-tions started. According to Robert Frucher, managing director of Leisure Time Tours, his father Daniel Frucher was the first to kasherize a nonkosher hotel for Passover, in 1972. Before that, the only options were kosher hotels in Miami and the Catskills. These werent great hotels, Frucher says. Passover was their biggest piece of business all year. My father saw the need, specifically in Miami Beach. The demand was so big even for the lousy kosher hotels, they were actually housing people across the street and
feeding them in the lobby, putting up tables everywhere.
Leisure Times first venture was at an upscale property in Miami Beach, with spaces for about 400 people, and they sold out in six weeks. Today the company runs Passover getaways in five hotels, with programs serving 450 to 1300 people.
Raphi Bloom, London-based owner and sales director of the Jew-ish travel website TotallyJewishTravel.com, notes that this year, there are 135 disparate Pesach hotels around the world. Hes been running the site for a dozen years. The Passover busi-ness, he says, has grown and grown and grown. Its seen hard times, but this year it seems to have really weath-ered the economic downturn. Youre seeing far more new hotels coming in terms of Pesach.
A typical Passover getaway is all-inclusive, for 9 nights. They are not cheap; while some start at about $1600 per adult, many are $3500 and up, depending on the accommoda-tions. As Frucher says, Whats hap-pened with Passover programs, its the cruise ship concept on land. They include three meals a day, plus a tea roomwhere food is always avail-able. There are daily services (usually Orthodox), plus lectures, study ses-sions, day camps for kids, teen pro-grams, and excursions.
We went to the Hoover Dam, and to the Strip, says Yussie Awend-stern, a financial advisor from Valley Stream, N.Y. One of his daughters lives in California, and they meet in Lake Las Vegas for a program run by World Wide Kosher Tours. What I really like is spending time with my daughter and seven grandchildren.
A relaxed time with family is the goal for Camp Ramah Darom in Clay-ton, Georgia, which started offering a
Matza breakLis Stern
JointMedia News Service
Passover getaways are becoming an increasingly popular way to enjoy the holiday.
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PassoverPassover retreat for about 300 people in 2002. The camp itself was built in 1997. CEO Fred Levick says the facility was built to accommodate groups year-round. One of the first things we focused on was Passover. Were primarily in the camping business, and have the experience of creating communal events, which are fun and education