Seder Tips


Whether you’ve been doing it for years or are brand new, leading a seder is
a challenging job.

“Many arrive at the seder vaguely expecting to hear the great tale of the
Jewish people’s struggle for freedom,” writes David Arnow in his new book,
“Creating Lively Passover Seders: A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts and
Activities” (Jewish Lights, 2004). “Year after year they leave with a
gnawing sense of disappointment. The haggadah comes close to telling the
story, but it does so in a way that creates confusion, if not frustration.”
Unless, that is, a good seder leader creates a seder that not only is
engaging and fun, but applies to today the issues that inhere in the Exodus
story.

How to do that?

Here is what Arnow and some other veteran seder leaders suggest:

Before Seder

Do Your Homework: The leader should be prepared to open discussion during
the seder, and can only do that if he or she knows the text of the haggadah
well. Arnow’s densely packed book provides not just historical context for
the different passages in the haggadah, but outside sources, fictional
stories and related material that can fuel long discussions.

Don’t Just Send Invitations – Send Assignments: David Aaronson, who has been
leading his family seders for 20 years and this year gave a workshop on
seder leading at Temple Israel of Hollywood, asks his guests to come dressed
for a long journey.

He also asks them to write out their own Four Questions, which he puts in a
basket and reads a various points in the seder.

Write Your Own Haggadah : Cut and paste from other haggadahs or source books
and compile the texts that are most relevant to you.

Setting the Stage: Make setting the table part of the experience. Lori Krop
sets out on display all the seder apparatus that her kids have made over the
years and lets them choose. She also invites the kids to decorate the table
with props – little frogs or bugs, perhaps.

Really Recline: Aaronson takes a radical approach to the seder table: lose
it. He conducts the first half of his seder in the living room, where guests
are not sitting in front of empty plates wondering when the food will come,
and where creativity can really flourish.

The Food: At the risk of upending hallowed traditions, many seasoned seder
leaders have opted for cold or room-temperature food, so that the kitchen
doesn’t become distractions to the real focus – the haggadah.

Sitting Down

Any Questions?: Seder leaders have become somewhat shameless in the ploys
they use to elicit good questions. Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of
Century City hands out vouchers for dollar amounts that he cashes in after
Yom Tov. The biggest reward goes to someone who can ask a question the rabbi
can’t answer.

Krop uses candy as rewards and throws out “freedom riddles” or sometimes
hides questions under people’s plates and lets them ask it.

Keep It Fun and Moving: With all these questions and answers, make sure to
keep things fun and moving. Aaronson recommends breaking into song at any
point in the seder, and Krop keeps out a basket of small instruments.

The Plagues: One opportunity for lots of fun, ironically, is the plagues.
Aaronson has guests pantomime the plagues. Some family use puppets or toys,
or throw Styrofoam for hail and plastic bugs for locusts. Professionals and
fundraisers have made a business out of this, and boxes and bags of plagues
are available at Judaic stores and online.

Bargain Circus: The afikoman exchange has long been – and was meant to be –
a highlight for the kids, but Krop makes sure it also stays on the freedom
message.

In addition to some small Passover-related toy, her family exchanges the
afikoman for a commitment they make to do a mitzvah throughout the year.

The Cup Runneth Over: Aaronson recommends keeping Elijah’s cup empty, and
then having each guest pour a little of their own wine into Elijah’s cup.

The Courage to Change: When it comes to the seder, traditions seem to be
firmly entrenched. Introducing new rituals or ideas – or even just
eliminating some tired ones – might seem sacrilegious.

“It takes tremendous initiative and work, and in the end I think it’s worth
it,” Rabbi Nina Bieber Feinstein said.

Music for All Ages


For the Kids

When Paul Zim sent me his new children’s CD, “Shabbat is Here,” to review, I did the only logical thing — I gave it to my 5-year-old son, Yair, for his opinion. The reviews are in — “This is great!”

Yair is a long-time fan of Zim, who is known not only for his children’s music but for his cantorial work and Yiddish songs.

In addition to some original songs written for “Shabbat Is Here,” Zim does his own variations on classics such “Bim Bam,” “Yom Rishon,” and “Gili Gili Good Shabbat,” and includes traditional favorites such as “Lecha Dodi,” “Mizmor Shir” and “Eliyahu Hanavi.” The musical styles vary from klezmer to jazz to something that sounded like a cowboy ballad.

Like Zim’s other children’s tapes, such as the Noah’s ark-themed “Zimmy Zim’s Zoo” and “Jewish Holiday Time,” “Shabbat is Here” establishes a friendly rapport with listeners by using children as back-up singers and narrators in the ongoing dialogue that carries through the tape, explaining various aspects of Shabbat. Zim’s singing is slow and enunciated so that even small children can learn the words to Hebrew songs they may not even understand.

“Shabbat is Here” is available at local Judaica stores, or by calling (888)3-SAMEACH, www.paulzim.com.

For the Bigger Kids

Just in time for Chanukah, Craig Taubman has produced “Celebrate Kids: Kids’ Kosher Cuts,” a fourth CD in his “Celebrate Series,” which includes theme albums on Chanukah, Passover and Shabbat.

This latest CD, like the others in the series, includes selections from about a dozen singers, from favorites such as Debbie Friedman and Craig ‘n Co. to some newcomers. The musical styles are diverse and tantalizing — you never quite know what might come next: ’50s bebop, a cappella, country, jazz, disco and even a song by “Visions” that sounds like it came off a Britney Spears track.

What holds the CD together is a broad, unifying message — being Jewish is cool, it’s fun and it gives you something to think about. Half of all revenues from this CD will go to Magen David Adom.

The CD is available at Borders Books, Gelsons and Ralphs, or at (800) 6-CRAIG-8, www.celebrateseries.com.

For the Grownups

The Western Wind Ensemble, in cooperation with National Public Radio, has released an updated version of its choral and narrative “Chanukah in Story and Song.” Narrated by Leonard Nimoy, the CD interweaves the story of Chanukah with vocal arrangements, both a cappella and accompanied, from the span of Jewish musical history.

With Chasidic melodies, Israeli folk songs and liturgical pieces set to both contemporary and classical compositions, the CD offers an evocative and thoughtful rendition of the traditional story.

Especially moving is solo performance of a Sephardic melody about Hannah, whose seven sons submitted to the sword rather than commit idolatry.

KCRW 89.9 FM will air the Western Wind’s “Chanukah in
Story and Song” Friday, Dec. 14, noon-3 p.m. To order the CD, call (800)
788-2187, www.westernwind.org .

Ritualized Equality


Woven into many Jews’ seders when they sit down to celebrate Passover this year will be a spate of new traditions.

A Miriam’s Cup next to Elijah’s represents the role of the prophetess Miriam in the Exodus and highlights women’s contributions to Jewish culture. A seemingly out-of-place orange on the seder plate represents how women — traditionally thought to have no place in Jewish study — have introduced their voices to Judaism.

Through integrating each of these into our retelling of the Exodus, the voices and perspectives of women are unearthed and brought into the present, where they add to the vitality of contemporary Judaism.

Like them, another relatively recent innovation — the simchat bat, or welcoming ceremony for Jewish baby girls — focuses on the feminine voice and is becoming so widely practiced that it is taking on the weight of tradition.

For centuries, Jewish communities from North Africa to Eastern Europe welcomed their baby girls with a range of customs, though none carried the same sense of religious importance as the commanded brit milah, or ritual circumcision, always has for boys. And as those communities were dispersed into Diaspora or destroyed by anti-Semitism, the customs regarding girls’ births all but died out.

Though the Sephardic community in America still customarily welcomes its new daughters with singing in synagogue and a party, in most American Jewish families little was done, until recently, to recognize the birth of a girl through religious ritual.

Traditionally oriented fathers go to synagogue on the first day that the Torah is read after the birth of a daughter, to name her and ask God to watch over her and help heal his wife. Rarely are the mother and baby present.

Today, in liberal synagogues, the entire family is often called up for an aliyah when family members first return to synagogue on Shabbat. They bless the Torah, and a blessing is said to name the new daughter and offer hope that she will grow into healthy adulthood.

But in recent years, the simchat bat has also been available to Jews wanting to welcome their baby daughters into the covenant and into their families with the same marriage of ritual seriousness and joy as they accord their sons.

The simchat bat (celebration of the daughter) or brit bat (covenant of the daughter), as it is often known, was first created in the early 1970s by Rabbis Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Dennis Sasso, and, separately, by Rabbi Michael and Sharon Strassfeld. They were connected with the chavurah and Reconstructionist movements, which created the new ritual out of a desire to renew Judaism spiritually and to include the female voice equally.

Since that time, especially during the last five years, welcoming the birth or adoption of baby girls has become a quiet revolution in all sectors of the Jewish community, with Jews from Humanist to Reform to Orthodox welcoming their daughters with rituals they compose and hold at home.

“Thirty years ago nobody even asked the question of whether a girl should have a ceremony,” said Rabbi Nina Cardin, who was involved early on in the creation and dissemination of welcoming ceremonies for girls. Cardin now works as director of Jewish Life for the JCC of Greater Baltimore.

“There is a huge awareness that has developed over a relatively short span of time, and it has bubbled up from the bottom,” Cardin said. “These ceremonies were a very radical expression back then, and nowadays they’re not.”

While the mainstream movements’ rabbis’ manuals today all include brief synagogue-based rituals to welcome girls, a growing number of families are opting to hold a more complex ceremony at home. There they welcome their daughters with rituals as unique as their families.

Adina Kalet and her husband, Mark Schwartz, who belong to a Conservative synagogue and live in Brooklyn with their son and daughter, knew that they would welcome their daughter with a simchat bat after they adopted her from Colombia, at age 4 months, just over a year ago.

“We were eager to celebrate publicly her coming to us, and we’ve always turned to our own traditions as much as we could,” Kalet said. “Even during five years of infertility we looked for Jewish rituals” to help work through it. Having a simchat bat to welcome Sara “just seemed like the natural thing to do,” she said.

Incorporated into Sara’s simchat bat were elements representing her heritage. An aunt sang her a song in Ladino, the language of Spanish-speaking Jews. Kalet and Schwartz dipped Sara’s feet in water, similar to the mikvah in which she had just been immersed to be converted to Judaism, and spoke movingly of their long journey in bringing her into their family.

Kalet also wore a necklace of a gold Colombian fertility goddess, which they had purchased when they went to get Sara.

“To have a ritual way of welcoming her was just so meaningful on so many levels. It helped us focus on the transition from being infertile to having it all be over and having her be with us,” Kalet said. “Plus it was just fun to have a party.”

Strangers at the Feast


My worst Passover was my first in Los Angeles, more than half a lifetime ago. I had nowhere to go the first night, and the second night, a college friend took me to an institutional seder that was so sterile and faceless that I went home early and, paraphrasing Scarlett O’Hara, vowed, "As God is my witness, I’ll never go without a seder again."

And I haven’t, because since then I’ve made one every year. Only during a two-year sojourn in my extended family’s Expected Attendance Area have I failed to haul out the haggadot and start rounding up everyone who wants a place at the table.

There were only five of us at the first seder I made, in 1978, including a live-in boyfriend and a non-Jewish guy I knew from work who had always wanted to go to a seder. I had taken my 23-year-old self to J. Roth (of blessed memory) and bought copies of the most up-to-date haggadah I could find in those days before feminist, peacenik and other alternative haggadot were in mass circulation.

It was the first seder at which I drank the third and fourth cups of wine, because my family never got back to the service after shulchan orech. But no one got tipsy, because Live-In Boyfriend and I were pouring Manischewitz; nobody knew from Baron Herzog back then.

The next year, we had to put both leaves in the garage-sale Formica dining table. By 1983, the spring we lived in New Hampshire, we had graduated to fake French provincial, my parents’ old dining room set. Two years later, I made the seder about eight minutes after Live-In Boyfriend moved out.

The following spring, the love of my life had his feet under my seder table (and still does). Ten years ago, leftover marinated green beans from our wedding luncheon made a nice cold side dish. Many pages of our haggadot have been papered over with new readings.

Blood relatives are rarities at our seders: once, years ago, an uncle and aunt happened to be in town; more recently, one of my sisters lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years. My husband and I have no family in Southern California, and because guilt infliction seems to be effective only from parents to offspring, I haven’t been able to persuade my Arizona-based mom and dad to join us.

So every year we troll for folks who need a seder and don’t have one. We find them in the synagogues we belong to, sometimes in classes and at work. Every year the Introduction to Judaism program at the University of Judaism, where my husband studied for conversion six years ago, sends us two or three people. This year the role of "the gentile who’s always wanted to go to a seder" will be played by the lone Christian in my husband’s Hebrew class.

Many of the faces around the table change from year to year. People move in and out of town, in and out of our lives; we change jobs, attend different schools, find ourselves hanging out in different circles than we did the year before.

Some perennials have developed, though: folks from shul who like our combination of fun, attention to the haggadah, and enough good food to feed an army, and a longtime friend whose husband always seems bemused by our seders, which are nothing like the ones he grew up with in London.

My best friend, Barry, used to come every year and complain that we never had enough unattached gay men at our seder. Finally, he passed up our first night a couple of years ago to go to a seder that was all gay men. He came back. We’re family.

I identify with our ancestor Abraham, who always was more comfortable welcoming passersby into his tent than he was depending on the kindness of strangers. While there have been years when we’ve been invited to someone else’s home for seder, I decline with thanks. Tempting as a work-free seder might be, there are people who count on us now.

Tomorrow night, my husband and I will sit side by side and gaze out over the mixed multitude in our living room. Our dog will lie under the table, waiting for something to drop. We’ll tell the story, sing the songs, eat and drink, talk about Egypt and deliverance. And even if Elijah doesn’t show up, the Shechinah will be there.

Cooking with Chocolate


I absolutely love preparing chocolate desserts for Passover, and now that chocolate is considered a health food, it will give you all the more reason to include it in your Passover recipes. Chocolate desserts are easy to make, and you can create a variety of non-dairy chocolate desserts for Passover that will bring pleasure to everyone.

Over the years, I have created new chocolate recipes for my family to enjoy at our Passover dessert table. They include Passover florentines covered with chocolate, a chocolate-glazed marble cake with a texture similar to pound cake, Passover “French toast” and a chocolate espresso soufflé, made without butter or cream. All of these recipes conform to the Passover food restrictions.

The Chocolate soufflé recipe is adapted from my cookbook “Master Chefs Cook Kosher” and was created by Chef Ken Frank on my TV show. Hot, it rises to the occasion, and when cold, it becomes a rich, dense chocolate cake.

An assortment of chocolate Passover desserts will add something special to your seder. I serve them year-round and often fill a box to take as a gift when invited out to dinner.

  • Ken’s Chocolate Espresso Soufflé
  • Unsalted butter or non-dairy margarine for coating the dishes
  • Granulated sugar for coating the dishes
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tbs. Passover powdered sugar*
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso coffee, warm
  • 6 ounces Passover semisweet chocolate, melted and warm
  • Passover powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Coat six to eight (depending on the volume of beaten egg whites) 1/2-cup soufflé dishes evenly with margarine and dust with sugar. Set aside.

Whip the egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl until frothy. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

Combine the egg yolks, espresso, and chocolate in another bowl and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, quickly fold the egg-yolk mixture into the egg-white mixture. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dishes up to the rim without disturbing the sugar lining. Bake for 8 minutes, until cooked through and crisp on top. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve at once. Serves 6 to 8.

*If Passover powdered sugar is not available, powder the same amounts of granulated sugar in a blender or food processor and add 1/2 tsp. potato starch.

Passover Chocolate Marble Cake With Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup matzah cake meal
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, wine or water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup strong hot coffee or water

Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Blend 3/4 cup of the sugar with the salt and oil. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift the potato starch and matzah-cake meal together. Add them to the egg-yolk mixture alternately with the apple juice, wine or water.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff enough to hold a peak. Fold the beaten egg whites into the egg-yolk mixture. Pour half of the batter into another bowl and reserve.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder and coffee, and fold this mixture into the reserved batter. Pour the two batters alternately (about 1 cup at a time) into a 10-inch (ungreased) tube pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in it comes out dry. Remove the cake from the oven; immediately invert the pan and let it cool. Loosen the sides and center of the cake with a sharp knife and unmold it onto a cake plate. Drizzle the Chocolate Glaze over the cake, allowing it to run over the sides.

Chocolate Glaze

  • 8 ounces Passover nondairy semisweet chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade or apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup espresso coffee, cooled

Place chocolate, marmalade and espresso in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (or melt in a microwave) and using a wire whisk, beat until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Passover Florentines (Farfel-nut Thins)

  • 1 cup matzah farfel
  • 1 tablespoon matzah cake meal
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter or pareve margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • Chocolate Glaze (see recipe, above)

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the matzah farfel, matzah cake meal, sugar and salt, and mix well. Pour the butter or margarine over the farfel mixture and blend until the sugar dissolves. Add the egg and vanilla or orange juice and blend. Mix in the almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 10 to 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with foil and drop the farfel mixture in teaspoons onto the foil, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before lifting from the foil. Drizzle chocolate glaze over cookies. Makes about 8 dozen.

Passover “French Toast” with

Chocolate Sauce

  • 6 to 8 (1-inch thick) slices Passover Sponge Cake
  • 1/2 cup milk or orange juice
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel or orange peel
  • Unsalted butter or non-dairy margarine
  • Cinnamon-sugar (1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • to 1/4 cup sugar)
  • Chocolate Sauce (recipe follows)

In a large, shallow bowl, combine the milk, eggs and lemon or orange peel and beat well. Soak the sponge cake slices in the milk mixture.

In a skillet, heat the butter. Fry the cake on both sides until brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Serve with Chocolate Sauce.

Chocolate Sauce

  • 8 ounces Passover semisweet chocolate cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry preserves, strained
  • 1/2 cup espresso coffee, cooled

Place chocolate, preserves and espresso in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (or melt in a microwave) and, using a wire whisk, beat until smooth. Makes about 2 cups.

Passover Escapes


At our Ski Passover, experience the thrill of the 2002 Winter Olympics … Ski the mogul run and view the aerial jumping hill; ride the snowboard half-pipe and ski the giant slalom course … take a bobsled or luge ride or even try Nordic jumping …

More than 3,000 years ago, at the season we now call Passover, the Israelites went forth into the wilderness to face 40 years of wandering and the prospect of nothing but manna to eat.

Today, descendants of the Israelites still go forth at Pesach time, but instead of wilderness, they encounter manicured lawns, tennis courts and swimming pools, and the menu includes gourmet cuisine and the finest kosher wines from around the world.

In a couple of weeks, when most Jews are stocking up on matzah and, in some cases, teasing chametz crumbs out of corners with a feather, thousands of their coreligionists will be locking up their houses and heading for posh hotels in resort areas from Florida to Hawaii.

For them, Chol ha’Moed, the intermediate days of Passover, may well include skiing or snorkeling — and somebody else will have kashered the kitchen.

“It does literally take you out of the slavery,” said Michele Harlow of Hancock Park, who has spent Passover in Palm Springs and South Florida and will check into the Biltmore in Phoenix for this year’s holiday.

“My original motivation was to give my wife a break,” said Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, father of six and rosh yeshiva of Valley Torah High School in North Hollywood, who is now on the Passover resort circuit as a lecturer and supervisor of kashrut. Acknowledging that “some of the family feeling is missed,” Stulberger said of his wife, who teaches full time at Emek Hebrew Academy, “I think she’s willing to give up that aspect of it.”

You may select to join the Community Seder led by our Rabbi & Cantor, a Semi-Private Seder where you will conduct your own Seder in the same room with other families, or a Private Seder in which the selected meeting room is exclusively yours for the evening. No need to bring your haggadah, wine goblet or matzah cover from home…

A majority of travelers to Passover resort packages are Orthodox or observant enough for Pesach preparation to be a huge project, and some have had enough. “When the kids were growing up, it was nice to make seder at home, to see what they were learning, and I had more energy,” said Harlow, who made or helped make seders for the first 20 years of her marriage. “Now I’m a grandmother, and it’s nice not to have to do all the cooking and cleaning.”

“Preparation for Passover is part of the holiday; it connects you to previous generations,” Stulberger said. “You lose that connection when you go away.”

Because of that, some guests ask to assist in kashering the hotel kitchen the day before Pesach begins, said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of Project Next Step of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who will go to the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage for his fifth Passover as a lecturer “on the route.”

“Part of Passover is lost,” acknowledged Marnin Weinreb, a member of B’nai David-Judea Congregation in Pico-Robertson who has gone away for Passover most years since 1989. “The seder itself, it’s not the kind of atmosphere where you can have discussions.”

But, he added, going away provides a space that accommodates his extended family, a consideration for many families in which the parents are aging and the kids don’t have big enough homes to fit three or four generations under one roof. “My mom started finding it very difficult to make seder,” Weinreb said. “This is one way for all of us to be together.”

Dov Fischer, a rabbi who now works as an attorney and who will lecture on current events and conduct community seders in Hawaii this year, said families that are serious about the seder will spend a little extra for semiprivate or private dining rooms. The more observant the crowd at a given resort, he suggested, the smaller the community seder will be.

Not everyone who goes away for Passover is observant, however. “I see people who are nonobservant but hear about a nifty place,” Fischer said. “I’ve got intermarried people who don’t know which way to hold a haggadah.”

A sumptuous display greets you each morning … We host two spectacular barbecues … We stock the widest variety of the finest mevushal & non-mevushal kosher wines, spirits & cordials available.

Pre-School Playroom and Day Camp … Teen Program … Sensational Musicians … Bingo Night, Film Screenings, Art Exhibits, Wine Tastings, Computer Demonstrations …

“Basically, it’s about the eating,” said Sari Ciment, Harlow’s daughter, who lives in Beverlywood.

Besides the usual resort amenities of golf, tennis and swimming, different resorts offer special activities for the intermediate days of Pesach. At the Ventura Beach Hotel, families can sign up for excursions to Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Channel Islands National Park; an Orlando resort provides access to Walt Disney World, EPCOT, Universal Studios and Sea World. Beachside resorts offer extras such as windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving and sailing; horseback riding and hiking turn up often as well. Many resorts also offer access to spas and shopping.

As a courtesy to Orthodox guests, some resorts will open the hotel fitness center or a swimming pool for single-sex hours once a day. However, Adlerstein said, plenty of Passover guests can be found poolside during regular hours during Chol ha’Moed.

For more sedentary guests, hotel packages often list card and game rooms, lectures by rabbis and academics on Jewish topics of historical and current interest, Torah and Talmud study, and classes in subjects like cooking and food decoration.

“They do cruise kind of things, silly things, like ice sculpting,” Harlow said. “I like the Israeli dancing.”

Make no mistake: all this food and fun come at a steep price. Ten-day packages begin around $1,600 per person, double occupancy, at less exotic locations and can climb into the $4,000-$5,000 range for suites and villas at the toniest resorts. Most per-adult rates fall between $2,500 and $3,000 for the 10 days, with lower prices for children.

Fischer sees the Passover-resort phenomenon as emblematic of American Jews’ success. “It is reflective of a moment in time: so many people spending so much money to spend Pesach away from home,” he said.

This Passover don’t just settle for bitter herbs … join us for a Passover vacation your family will surely treasure.

If the creation of a spiritually meaningful Pesach at an expensive resort seems to be an uphill climb, it’s not for lack of trying on the part many rabbis involved. “We have strong davening, we have strong learning, and I think we have strong spirituality,” Adlerstein said.

Fischer said he does have to conduct the community seders with an eye on the clock, but he tries to create some of the intimacy of a family seder and make the proceedings more than a pro forma lunge toward shulchan orech.

“The challenge for me is to make Judaism enjoyable, fun, educational — to focus on enjoyment rather than pain,” he said.

“I personally look forward to [the trips], despite some feelings of guilt that we would be more focused on the spiritual aspects of Pesach if we were at home,” Adlerstein said.

But the pluses outweigh the negatives, he indicated. “We’ve really made a difference in some people’s Pesach,” he said. “We all get to be together as a family, and my wife gets to sit back while I do all the hard work.”

These travel companies offer Passover
resort packages:

Tropical Kosher Resorts/Exclusive Retreats: (323)
937-5281; www.xclusiveretreats.com.

World Wide Kosher: (323) 525-0015

Adventures: (323) 933-4044

CruiseOne: (818) 865-9779; www.CruiseOne.com

Vims Holidays: (800) 464-VIMS; www.Jewishroutes.com

Sterling: (800) 328-6870

Kosher Travels Unlimited: (800) 832-6676; www.koshertravelsunlimited.com

V.I.P. Passover: (800) 883-5702

Kosher Expeditions:(800)923-2645; www.kosherexpeditions.com

Resort Classics: (323)933-4044; www.passoverresorts.com

Presidential Kosher Holidays: (800) 950-1240; www.passovervacations.com