matzo passover
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Challenges of Traveling During Passover for Jewish People

What is a Jewish person to do?!?

Passover begins at sundown tomorrow, Friday, April 15, 2022 all around the world and lasts for eight days — except in Israel, where the holiday lasts for seven days. The holiday — which is also known in Hebrew as Pesach is celebrated and observed by Jewish people worldwide on the date of the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, which occurs on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. Generally, no bread — or anything that contains grain that has fermented, which is known as chametz — is to be consumed or even owned; so it is either sold or burned…

Challenges of Traveling During Passover for Jewish People

…but what is a Jewish person to do when traveling during Passover?

The first two nights are most important and are usually dedicated to the seder — which is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover — and people of the Jewish faith are usually surrounded by family and friends at home…

…and although many Jewish people simply stay home for the entire holiday, they are not prohibited from traveling during Passover — but some problems and rather unique challenges do exist in doing so.

For example, a hotel property which is not considered to be upscale — such as a Hampton Inn, a Fairfield Inn, a Comfort Inn, a Hyatt Place, or a Holiday Inn Express — may offer a continental breakfast which is included in the room rate. Some of the muffins, bagels, and other pre-packaged goods may be Kosher; but they are considered chametz and cannot be eaten — while yogurt, juice, and other items may be Kosher and not chametz but are not considered Kosher for Passover.

Another example is that Jewish people can travel to such places as New York or Israel — but then, the dietary limitations prevent them from enjoying certain foods. One cannot enjoy a pastrami sandwich on rye bread in New York, for example. Besides, so much time and effort is usually involved in ensuring that a restaurant is Kosher for Passover that many restaurants simply close for the duration of the holiday; so keeping Kosher for Passover while dining out can also be a challenge.

“If you travel and pay for your lodgings, traditionally you’re required to perform the chometz search in the room you lease. If you’re a nonpaying guest, then the chometz search responsibility falls to the owner”,  according to this article written by Ben Gifford for Cleveland Jewish News. “You can still perform your own search by giving the owner a small amount of money. In effect, you would be leasing the room and responsible for cleaning it.”

Advice is also given in this discussion from 2006 on FlyerTalk. Generally, FlyerTalk members who are Jewish tend to bring their own matzo, fruits, vegetables, and canned tuna fish with them when they travel during Passover — but some other tidbits of advice and anecdotes pertaining to experiences are also included in that discussion.

Other foods which could be consumed during Passover include flavored coconut macaroons, eggs, candy, soup with no noodles, certain types of fish, beef, chicken, turkey, and bottles of Coca-Cola which have yellow caps. Most of these foods can be placed in containers which are suitable for travel.

Matzo is an unleavened flat bread — more like the consistency of a cracker — which is an integral element of the Passover festival and seder. Not all matzo is Kosher for Passover, as it must meet stricter criteria to officially receive that certification than matzo which is Kosher for the rest of the year.

Final Boarding Call

Many Jewish people simply stay home for Passover — not only to be around family and friends for this festive yet holy and important holiday — but also because travel simply poses too many issues, problems, and challenges. That explains why during my research, not much is mentioned about travel during Passover.

Do you travel during Passover? If so, what do you do — and what advice would you give based on your experiences?

If you celebrate Passover, חַג שָׂמֵחַ or chag sameach!

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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