By the Book: Passover vacation for the religious

Kosher Pesach vacation for families in the beautiful north.

Hotel Lavi (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hotel Lavi
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Just like everybody, we in the religious community can’t wait to enjoy a vacation with the family in the countryside and to get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life. Now you no longer need to choose between the hotel’s rating and the countryside’s natural beauty or the level of kashrut and a religious atmosphere. Welcome to the Lavi Hotel, a great example of hospitality at the highest levels where everything is adapted to the needs of the religious community.
We discovered Hotel Lavi after a long search for the ideal Pesach vacation location suitable for the religious community. We spoke with the hotel’s representative, Yehudit Menachem, to better understand how they prepare to host their guests during the Pesach holiday and asked her exactly what the hotel offers those who are looking for a place to vacation during this coming Pesach. Here’s what we discovered.
”Our hotel," she told us, “is designed specifically for vacations for the religious community. We provide everything necessary so that Seder Night and Hol HaMoed go smoothly and pleasantly while taking extra care to ensure that daily religious requirements are met. The hotel’s standards are such that our guests can observe all the halakhot and mitzvoth every day of the year and especially during Pesach, which requires careful and intensive preparation before the festival. We ensure that the hotel is prepared to meet the needs of our guests and provide content and activities specially adapted to the religious community.”
A rural, religious atmosphere set against the spectacular landscapes of Israel’s north.
Kibbutz Lavi sits amongst the magnificent landscapes of the Lower Galilee and the Kinneret Valley. As soon as we arrive, surrounded by trees and flowering plants, and as we inhale the clean, fresh air, a sense of peace and calm falls over us.
Yehudit tells some history: “Here on the kibbutz, we preserve an age-old tradition of hospitality, one that is mentioned in the Talmud as “Pundaka DLavi”. This ancient inn served travelers on their way from Tsipori to Tiberius, both thriving centers of Jewish life during that period. Tradition and the natural beauty of this spot also attracted the young people who escaped the Holocaust and established the Kibbutz in 1949, combining Jewish religious life with a pioneer lifestyle and spirit.”
Today the hotel is an integral part of the kibbutz in which it is located, reviving the ancient values and spirit of hospitality. The hotel is staffed and maintained by members of the kibbutz who treat the guests warmly and courteously and create a religious experience and atmosphere in a peaceful, rural environment.
‘Seder’ Night led by Rabbi Ephraim Levitz
Seder Night at the Hotel Lavi will be led by Rabbi Ephraim Levitz, a well-known and respected religious intellectual whose knowledge and skills cover an impressive and diverse spectrum. Yehudit told us about the Rabbi: “Rabbi Levitzitz lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh and made Aliyah to Israel from the United States in 1978. He will be leading the Seder Night at the hotel in both Hebrew and English.
Our respected guest, who has been guiding and leading religious activities at our hotel for many years, and especially during holy days and festivals, is certified as a rabbi by the Israeli Rabbinical Court and has a PhD. in Hebrew Literature. Rabbi Levitz is active in the field of Jewish education at all age levels and lectures on creative thinking at many of the country’s important colleges. The Rabbi is also a professional cantor, composer, story-teller and an accomplished actor and director. This makes any interaction with him one filled with humor and charm alongside his deep knowledge regarding all the halakhot and mitzvoth of Pesach.”
A rich and spellbinding program
“Here at the hotel you’ll enjoy a rich and wonderful cultural program in a religious atmosphere”, said Yehudit proudly. She added, “this Pesach, we will host, as in the past, the musician Yitzhak Meir who, amongst his other activities, is also a teacher of Hassidic Thought”.
Yitzhak Meir is the son of Rabbi Eliav Meir and the grandson, on his mother’s side, of Rabbi Shlomo Kook. As well as having a B.A. in Social Science, Yitzhak, who now lives in Jerusalem, was educated at some of the finest ultra-orthodox educational institutions as well as the “Beit Morasha” seminary. In his performances, Yitzhak combines Hassidic moral and ethical content and music from the various Hassidic courts. He also works with Israel’s leading musicians and is now collaborating with the well-known singer and poet Guy Zoo-Aretz in a performance called “Judaism Behind the Scenes”. This is a rich and fascinating experience that will delight you during your Pesach vacation and fill it with rich, creative and thought provoking content.
The synagogue and study hall
“The synagogue and its large religious library, both of which are open to our guests, can be found at the heart of the kibbutz”.say Yehudit , “The synagogue’s unique design is based on remains of ancient synagogues found on the site during archeological excavations and reflects ancient styles and traditions.”
The synagogue, which was established in 1962, was designed by the architect Joseph Shernburg who is known for his work designing and constructing the Western Wall concourse. 30 years later, the building was renovated while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original design – so much so, that it is difficult to differentiate between the original and the renovated sections of the building. This was made possible thanks to the skilled work of Tuvia Katz, an architect who is considered to be Shernburg’s successor. Times of services are displayed at reception and guests are also invited to use the study hall and participate in the many lessons taking place within its walls to expand their learning and their hearts before Shabbat and Holly Days.
Activities and attractions suitable for the religious
“One of the attractions that our guests really enjoy is our unique swimming pool that is open to guests only״. say Yehudit, ”it’s a covered and heated pool with separate hours for men, women and families. It’s open throughout the year, and includes a toddler’s pool and a wooden, dry sauna with a unique, hot stone heating system (KIUAS). You can also workout in our new, fully equipped gym that has separate opening hours for men and women as well as mixed sessions.”
If you’re looking for other sporting activities, then you’ll be happy to know that hotel guests can also use the tennis courts or play table-tennis, hire bikes and enjoy the many bike and running trails in the area. We also recommend visiting the Galilee Riding Stables on the Kibbutz and perhaps going on one of their organized, paid rides for adults and children. You could also consider taking some riding lessons or booking, in advance, a special horseback ride.
The hotel also offers many great activities for children including a large play room, workshops, shows, magicians, artists, different amusement rides and a special and exciting walk to discover the many different animals on the kibbutz. Another favorite attraction for the children and their parents is a visit to Kibbutz Lavi’s dairy herd where you can watch the cows being milked through a special viewing window.
Trips and attractions in the area
“Many of the kibbutz members are expert and interesting nature guides and tour guides for many of the biblical and historical sites in the area”, says Yehudit with a smile. “In the area around Kibbutz Lavi there are many attractions, spectacular landscapes and views and many sites of historical and traditional importance. One of the more prominent sites is “Migdala” at Migdal on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.”
One of the important discoveries at Migdala is the ancient. 2nd Temple period synagogue, the earliest ever found in the Galilee region. The synagogue has a stunning mosaic floor and walls that are covered with unique, colored plaster. Also found at the synagogue was an elaborately decorated engraving of a seven-branched candelabra.
We also recommend visiting the tomb of the “Tana Hagadol” (Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes (Rabbi Meir the Miracle Maker)) who was a student of Rabbi Akiva. This imposing structure, situated on a hillside in Tiberius, has two domes. One white, the Sephardi dome, is maintained by the Vaknine family, the other blue, Ashkenazi dome, is maintained by the “Or HaTorah” (Light of the Torah) religious seminary. Jews from across the globe believe that placing a donation in the donation box at the tomb while reciting the passage “Elka Derebbe Meir Ananee” elevates the prayer to heaven where it will not go unanswered.
Another wonderful and fascinating place to visit is the Golan Archaeological Museum in Katzrin. The museum displays many wonderful objects discovered at ancient synagogues across the Golan. During your visit, you can see archeological artifacts from the ancient Jewish city of Gamla, enjoy a multi-media presentation about the city and the remains of other Jewish settlements from the time of the Talmud including ancient Hebrew inscriptions and candelabra carved from granite.
For more info visit the Hotel Lavi Website
What’s on the menu?
The hotel’s chef, Anat Malcah, said about the food, “Here at the Hotel Lavi, we, the staff, are fully aware of the importance of kashrut and preparing the hotel to meet the needs of our guests. This is part of the principals of service and quality that are the basis of the hotel’s ethic – so that you, the guest, don’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying a great and relaxing vacation. We take care of the rest!”