Miami Beach, Florida (Envato)
Pesach is around the corner, just 32 days away to be exact. For many people this means going to their Pesach kitchen and starting to cook for Pesach. Of course, there are those who don't worry about preparing until the week before, but we're not talking about them because that's just crazy. For others, it means searching for the best Passover program for their family vacation. Passover Programs 101 will focus on those families heading to Passover programs around the world and what it means to go to a Passover program. Part 1 will deal with the basics of Passover programs and Part 2 (coming soon) will discuss popular Pesach vacation destinations around the world.
When is the Passover holiday in 2022?
The holiday of Passover begins on Friday evening April 15, 2022 with the first seder and ends on Saturday night April 23. The holiday in Israel lasts for seven days and outside of Israel, Pesach lasts for eight days (See here for a more in depth explanation on this topic). This year, the last day of Pesach is on Friday, which goes right into Shabbat so the holiday ends for everyone on Saturday night.
What is a Passover Program?
Passover programs are run by tour operators who take over all or part of a hotel or resort for the entire holiday of Pesach. Guests book their Pesach vacation through the tour company. The holiday of Passover is very labor intensive if you stay home: cleaning the house of all chametz (food with leavening agents), shopping for Passover products (you can’t use anything that you use during the year) and cooking for all the meals. Therefore, many people choose Pesach for their family vacation as a way to spend time with family and avoid the work of making Passover at home. The programs are usually all inclusive, providing all the meals, offering programming for kids and adults as well as evening entertainment. Some Passover programs include flights from Israel, USA and Europe. There are Passover programs for different budgets so obviously the price will impact the amenities, accommodations and activities offered by the programs.Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico (Envato)
Why do People go on Passover Programs?
One of the main reasons that people go away for the Pesach holiday is so they don’t have to do the heavy lifting associated with the holiday. It’s an ideal time to let someone else take care of the shopping and cooking. Many children are on vacation for the entire week of Passover so it’s a good time for a family vacation since the kids aren’t in school. Many extended families attend a Passover program together for a family reunion. Many families live far away from each other so Pesach is an ideal time to meet up, have seder together and let the cousins get to know each other. For some people, it’s an opportunity to meet new people and make friends from other places. It’s also a great way to see the world by visiting different countries each year.
How is the food at Passover Programs? Kashrut of Passover Programs? Gebrochts? Kitniyot?
The operators will often bring in their own chefs to ensure the quality of the meals or work closely with the hotel or resort chefs. Many programs offer all the meals, 24 hour tea rooms, poolside lounge, BBQs and more. Nobody goes hungry at a Passover program. There are Programs for all Kashrut levels. Most programs have a mashgiach on site for the duration of the holiday. Guests can speak to the program operators and the kashrut supervisors directly for details about the program. There are programs that serve gebrochts and some that don’t. Most do not serve kitniyot but there are a few that do.
Photo credit: Envato
What do people do at Passover Programs?
So much to tell and so little space. Passover programs aren’t only about the food (only mostly about the food). There is the religious component of daily minyanim, shiurim and lectures for those who want it. Some programs also offer the opportunity to fulfill continuing education credits, such as CME and CLE credits, but you have to check which programs are offering these courses. Most programs offer children and adult programming, which will depend on the program and your budget. They often have day camp for the children, teen programming and adult lectures. There is usually evening entertainment on chol hamoed with known performers. Some Pesach programs, especially the higher end ones, compete with each other by bringing in named celebrity singers, comedians and scholars-in-residence. Many programs take place at resorts that offer pools, spa treatments, golf courses, water sports, beaches and other amenities. Many people choose a program in an area that they are interested in touring. Some Passover programs offer guided tours with a boxed lunch (it’s mostly about the food), either included or additional cost.
So, there you have it. Information about Passover Programs in a nutshell. We covered the basics about what Passover programs are and what Pesach Programs offer travelers choosing the Passover holiday for their family vacations. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Passover Programs 101 where we will cover popular Pesach vacation destinations. In the meantime check out our comprehensive guide to Passover programs 2022.