Passover is by far one of the most exhausting and important Jewish holidays of the year. It is a holiday that celebrates perhaps one of the most important events in Jewish history: the freeing of the slaves from Egypt. It is a holiday that pushes Jewish dietary law into overdrive, restricting our beloved bagels and challah and replacing it with the reliably underwhelming matzah. Because the jews didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise when fleeing pharaoh, centuries later we suffer by eating terrible unleavened bread. Primarily cultural jews like myself complain about this stale bread substitute, but the ultra orthodox have to endure a much more rigorous cleansing process because of their values. Values are ideas held by individuals about what is desirable, proper, good, and bad. What individuals value is strongly influenced by the specific culture in which they happen to live. For Israel’s ultra orthodox, not eating food with yeast or grains in it isn’t enough, they must remove anything in their house that has even come in contact with yeast and grains. This includes everything from cutting boards, utensils, and plates in the kitchen to mattresses that have come in contact with crumbs from a PB&J sandwich you ate a month ago in bed. It is no surprise then that instead of going through this exhaustive and wasteful cleansing process, orthodox jews are now renting hotels and other accommodations for the entirety of the passover holiday.
These kosher hotels are rented out in their entirety for the seven days of the holiday and made completely kosher for Passover under rabbinical supervision. While this may sound like a perfectly viable solution to a costly and painful problem, many of the ultra orthodox believe that this loophole is not an acceptable excuse to shirk your passover duties. “Rabbi Israel Meir Friedman, the rebbe of the Sadigura Hasidic court and a member of the Council of Torah Sages, attacked the phenomenon directly, saying, ‘The order of the day [on Passover eve] is to fulfill the commandment of ‘You shall tell your children.’ [I call on people] not to go to hotels and guesthouses. Everyone and their families should celebrate the Seder [at home] and tell their children the story of the miracle.'” The debate goes back and forth between jews of varying levels of religiosity and of course it all relates back to their values and interpretation of religious texts. Regardless of your personal thoughts on the matter, it is undeniable that the practice of vacationing for Passover instead of cleansing your house by orthodox standards is increasing in popularity among the religious community. After all, who could say no to leaving the cleansing to someone else and spending passover in Cancun?