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Israel • Mexico • Italy • Cool Kosher

It’s time for a




Jewish News 2 February 2017

Travel / The Ritz-Carlton


Putting on

Brigit Grant and her family found luxury and good manners at Israel’s newest hotel

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THE ENTRANCE to The Ritz-Carlton in Herzliya is so discreet one could easily miss it, and that would be a travesty. The brand itself – as any seasoned traveller knows – sets the benchmark in luxury and doesn’t rely on bells and whistles to attract guests. Hence the cool low-key frontage of this New York-designed property, which sits between Hashunit Street and the Mediterranean with views over the harbour. There are 115 rooms set over 12 floors and those lucky enough to get a suite (me!) will be reminded of the penthouses owned by handsome heroes in the movies. It certainly had all the accoutrements of cinematic style, what with the steel kitchen, huge bed, a in ar m


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art by local talent and sculptured bowls on the coffee table. But it wasn’t the fab suite that turned my head at the Ritz-Carlton. It could easily have been the dinner we had at Herbert Samuel, the hotel’s relaxed in-house restaurant, which takes kosher dining to Michelin star heights effortlessly. I know it was effortless because we had front row seats in front of the open kitchen, where a team led by head chef Mor Cohen conjured up such dishes as arancini (that’s crispy Portobello mushrooms, pumpkin cream and tartufo) and lamb chops with Jerusalem artichoke and fennel that were memorably delicious. So good were they that the only sounds coming from our table were sighs of rapture until chef Mor arrived to talk about his cooking influences (mum and world travel) and knowing what customers want (fresh, high-quality ingredients). Kosher cooks will appreciate the ingenious way Mor substitutes one ingredient for another to emulate the flavour of a non-kosher dish but, as one who struggles to produce any flavour at all, I was impressed. It is with that same attention to flavour and display that Mor and his team tantalise guests’ taste buds at breakfast but, great as it was, the smoked salmon on artisan bread wasn’t what swung it for me at the Ritz-Carlton. No, what made our stay at this hotel unique was the service. Yes, that’s right, I said n, lto ar C zit R

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Herbert Samuel’s super Yellowtail Sashimi

“service”, which has never been a priority in the land of milk and honey. Sure, there’s warmth and hospitality, but courtesy is tricky – yet for staff at the Ritz-Carlton, it is part of their DNA. “Our aim was to have ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” explains PR manager Miri Vasilevsky who, like all the other employees, was surely hand-picked for her charm and refinement. Two hundred and fifty hours of training accounts for the attentiveness of everyone from the bellhop to the restaurant manager, and staff also do charity work outside of the hotel as part of the corporate ‘social responsibility’ footprint. Even the hotel’s children’s club –Ritz Kids – is enriching as it is run in part by the Ocean Society, so little ones get an environmental education while their parents use the Shiseido spa. For those who want a permanent place in Israel but like the gentility offered at Ritz-Carlton, there are 82 residential apartments to consider. That’s not on the cards for me, but until my boat comes in, I’ll be content with a week at the rooftop pool, dinner at Herbert Samuel, a bellman holding

the door and a receptionist for whom nothing is too much trouble. That’s Israel with service.

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Chef Mor Cohen makes it look easy

 Ritz-Carlton room rates are £320 to £560 and suites from £725, depending on the season. Dinner at Herbert Samuel is approximately £80 per person and lunch £35. Go to ritzcarlton.com

A Day in Tel Aviv There are an infinite number of ways to fill 24 hours in Tel Aviv, but the winter months provide an opportunity to think outside the box and visit new places. Our day went something like this :


Breakfast heaven at the Ritz-Carlton.

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Arrive at the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind in Beit Oved (20 mins south of Tel Aviv for a tour that is open to everyone if you book). Time it right, and you will see the dogs in training or, better still, a new litter of puppies in the whelping centre. Children will love it. Email: info@igdcb.org for more information or visit israelguidedog.org

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Train back to the centre and on to Hatachana, the old Jaffa railway station, which has been transformed into a cool public space filled with designer boutiques and the souvenir emporium Made in TLV, which is not like any tourist store you’ve visited. Belts with images of Tel Aviv taken by photo journalist Ziv Koren, clocks by Ofek Wertman and enough curiosities to fill a large Samsonite.

2 February 2017 Jewish News



Take a look around Tel Aviv / Travel

A full day in Tel Aviv can include a visit to the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind and lunch at Regina in Hatachana, which has the best food inspired placemats in the world. Seriously!


Lunch at Hatachana after spotting a beautiful 19th century Mediterranean building that houses Regina – a kosher restaurant run by the exotic Tzippy Levy and her husband Nir Shafrir, who have gone global with their menu, which features everything from goulash to kreplach soup. I stole the placemats (with their consent), which are the work of artist Ruth Tzorfati, but the couple’s good taste extends to all the shabby chic furnishing. Have your wedding in the walled garden or visit when they have an art exhibition. Neve Tzedek, the Tachana complex (building 10) call: 05394 28604


Stroll along Jaffa’s Port to look at the graffiti and eat ice cream.


Cocktails at the Dan Tel Aviv to shelter from the biblical storm and study the photographs of famous folk who have been visiting the hotel since 1953. The property also has the Ronit Blechner gallery and the art on display – vivid 3D portraits of celebrities – was spectacular. A fitting finale to a colourful day.

A stroll through renovated Old Jaffa Market followed by drinks at The Dan in Tel Aviv and a browse around the Ronit Blechner gallery, where Audrey Hepburn is coming up roses



Jewish News 2 February 2017

Travel / Get me to Israel







A flying


flights, which is a nice touch as we also got to live in Arkley. Who needs to battle with healthy number of ‘likes’, which is a sure “Which airline is the best to take to Israel?” enjoy them on our return flight from Ovda the gyratory system at Hanger Lane to get sign that, slowly but surely, Monarch is asked a friend of mine on Facebook the after a stay in Eilat. The experience in both to Heathrow, when you can leave home making its mark within the community and other day. It was a timely question as I’d directions was very civilised and social. 30 minutes before check-in. For the record, here are the reasons why... just flown in from the Holy Land and hastily For more details & bookings ple “They were very helpful when I contacted Monarch’s check-in staff are remarkably The airline flies out of Luton, which is a responded ‘Monarch’ followed by a smiling them for advice about our baby,” added Sam mitzvah if you are on the 9.15am to Tel Aviv and chirpy at 7am and don’t scold you for being emoji wearing a halo. My comment got a Contac t us Hamburger, whoon was travelling home020 with her slightlyby overweight (as in phone baggage allowance) husband Ben and son, first-time flyer Matty. or insist you redistribute the excess or wear it, “They answered all my questions and curtailed like other less friendly airlines do. A company any fears, which was very reassuring, and it was in tune with the impasse of a Jewish woman T o u r s affordable.” who can’t pack lightly will always get my vote And this seemed to be the view of all the and that of the other women in the queue who passengers who said they would definitely were grateful for the two bag hand luggage travel with Monarch to Israel again, as they allowance. There were many first timers aboard our Tel felt safe, comfortable in the very generous leather seats and well-fed. “It’s like going Aviv flight, among them several Jewish charity executives who had decided to trial the airline’s round to my mother’s house, but without the nagging,” said a contented passenger from a very competitively-priced flights to Israel. well-known charity. So that’s smiling emojis “Extremely good value,” said a gentleman with halos all round. from Hendon, who was most impressed by the extra legroom and genial attitude of the crew,  Monarch is the only airline to fly who weren’t fazed by passengers roaming SIRMIONE in north Italy on Lake Garda about the aircraft, as those of the faith are direct to Eilat and the only scheduled prone to do at 35,000 feet. leisure airline that operates flights directly ST st The hotel will re-open on Mar 1 until Oct 31 “It’s my first flight to Tel Aviv,” said stewto Ovda from London Luton airport with ardess Emma. “Do passengers normally stand fares, including taxes, starting from £89 Kosher Le mehadrin Hotel, Restaurant up and talk for the entire journey?” There was one way (£125 return). It also operates • Pizzeria • Coffee shop • Grocery no answer to this, although most were happy year-round flights to Tel Aviv from London • Ice cream • Take Away • Beit Knesset to sit down when they realised there were Luton and Manchester airports with fares, The ideal location for one day tours to Venice, smoked salmon bagels on the in-flight menu. including taxes, starting from £99 one way The Dolomites, Milan, Verona, Switzerland and more. Bagels are only available on Monarch’s Israel (£148 return). To book, visit monarch.co.uk









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2 February 2017 Jewish News




Jewish News 2 February 2017

Travel / There’s Eilat to love ng ni or M in , nd ta la Ei as e th n su es ris


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in all weathers

an D , ol po s it’ e tim st fa ak re rb fo

Brigit Grant and her family made the most of every glorious day by the Red Sea There is a misconception about Eilat. When you mention that you’ve just returned from the resort town on the Red Sea, people only ask about the weather. “Was it warm/hot/chilly at night/windy in the morning?” Of course, it’s possible to experience all of the above conditions during your stay, but it is only when the sun is noticeable by its absence that you really see the resort and take advantage of what is available in your hotel. Eating is probably the most obvious and enjoyable thing to do and, at the Dan Eilat – which opened in 1995 and is under-going steady refurbishment – a cloudy sky is an excuse to languish on a king-sized bed and enjoy room service. The good news is that if you snooze, you don’t have to miss the epic Israeli breakfast spread over 20 counters, as the Dan serves the first meal of the day from 7am to midday. That means that lazy folk like me still get to try every type of olive and pickled vegetable before moving on to the cheeses, while my daughter tucks into chocolate cake and strawberries. As I’ve started with the food, it is only right to mention head chef Ofir Kedem, who set up the hotel kitchen 22 years ago and now overseas 80 cooks. “I’m still very hands on,” says Ofir, whose greatest pleasure is cooking for his staff at 5.30am. As a key witness to the changing trends in food, Ofir has coped with the growing numbers of vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians and sugar-free guests. “Twenty percent of Israelis are vegetarians,” sighs the chef who was briefly a hotel manager in Taba, before discovering the kitchen. I am glad he did because his chopped

liver at the Friday night buffet was the greatest I’ve ever tasted (sorry Nana). Over drinks in the private club at the Dan’s King David Suite, Ofir revealed his chopped liver recipe, but I’m not sharing. Shabbat dinner at the Dan is a feast and I swore I’d never eat again, but changed track when we got to Shipudei Habustan, the restaurant on site, which serves a 14-dish meze. Food can fill a cloudy day, but I did a few stints at the gym and took advantage of the two heated pools. Even when the sun came out, I didn’t stop exploring and chatting to the staff, many of whom had just finished military service. The general manager Lior Muchnik, who is of Portuguese heritage, is wonderful company and has done every job within a hotel, so he knows when it’s being done right. Over breakfast, Lior told us how he believes everyone thrives in the relaxed tempo of Eilat, but the Dan didn’t get to be among Condé Nast’s top 5 hotels in the Middle East without energetic direction and it shows every day – regardless of the weather.

Beauty at the Dan

Eilat’s restaurant scene is blossoming

Female visitors should make a point of visiting Gail Schneider at Wow Brow at the Dan Eilat. Years of writing about beauty products has made me wary of enthusiastic beauticians, but Gail, who also has a Wow Gail Schneider Brow in Bal Harbour, Florida, is a genuine talent. She can asses a face in 60 seconds and transform it in under five minutes. Brows are a speciality, but she stocks make-up I’ve never seen that I now won’t go without. Be sure to buy a bottle of her Magic Serum, which sounds like a joke, but you won’t be laughing when you see the improvement in your skin. Call 0506-409-044

2 February 2017 Jewish News



There’s Eilat to love / Travel best known,” says Fay, raising her glass. Eran and Dolly are invited to open a branch of Eilat Wines in the home town of every tourist who ever visits but, for now, this delightful Kabbalat Shabbat is only available in Eilat. Don’t miss it.

Eilat must-dos Spectacle

The Ice Mall is a spectacle as ice skating in the desert tends to be, but it is the Wow Show at Isrotel’s Royal Garden that surprises on a small stage to produce Splash, a modified version of Cirque du Soleil’s O, featuring mermaids, pirates and a Gene Kelly homage. My husband appreciated the synchronised female divers in nude swimsuits who are part of a Russian cast and get to wear the best costumes while being soaked in every scene. We loved it. Isrotel.com

Good Evening Eilat

Not every visitor gets the chance to broadcast live to the world while vacationing in the resort, but the right connections will do it every time, hence our appearance on Alison Levi’s Tuesday night chat show. Hosted from a studio at the back of a pool hall in the city centre gives Radio Hof Eilat the sort of

Alison Levi at Radio Hof Eilat

cred Radio Caroline had in the seventies aboard a boat in the North Sea. From the hot seat, Alison shares her experiences as an active birth instructor, yoga teacher and producer of healing oils, while playing her top tunes. Joining her on air, while listeners also watched us live online in Brazil, LA and Brighton, was more fun than I’ve had on any radio show. Take a listen on Tuesdays from 8pm (Israel time) on radiohofeilat.co.il


Singing in the Rain with Russians

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From mid-morning on a Friday, the only place to be in Eilat is the industrial zone, which sounds forbidding, but isn’t once you enter Eilat Wines. A genuine oasis among the sandy warehouses, Eilat Wines is run by Dolly and Eran Lass, who have turned the sale of liquor into an unmissable Kabbalat Shabbat that is worth leaving the pool for. There are numerous wines to try |and purchase, as the couple are

connosieurs, supplying hotels and restaurants, but it is the atmosphere and people that makes this place special. Dolly’s family are legends, as her mother Fay – whom I had the pleasure of meeting – arrived in Eilat with her late husband Dr Reginald Morris in 1958 and never left. Dr Morris went on to establish the first hospital in the city, and a mobile clinic that served the Bedouins in Sinai. “But it was the crocodile he had in the garden for which he was


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ir yo u e Above: m rDolly and e n and, left, Eran Less t Dolly’s sistersYuni and their mother Fay


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Jewish News 2 February 2017

Travel / Rivera rolling


Want to know where to stay ? Ask Andrew Gold – he’s tried them all Riviera Maya is known for glitzy hotels, turquoise seas and the immortal spring break, when American revellers run riot in nightclubs and hostels. But my girlfriend and I were looking for something a little quieter in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Whether you call it the Mexican Caribbean for its deluxe hotels and beaches or the Mayan Riviera for its archaeological sites, Cancun has something for everyone. Here are the all-inclusive resorts where we stayed.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN The Royal Hideaway

The hotel is fairly small and intimate; it caters to your needs, with personal check-in desks and concierges who not only remember names, but whims and fancies. You arrive to a warm greeting that continues throughout and never feels forced or invasive.

This adults-only site is tecture so mesmerising known as one of the quieter and the facilities so hotels, although its recent all-encompassing that the acquisition by Barcelo hotel’s beauty knows no limits. led to a slight increase in Set amid miles of mangroves entertainment, with some and consisting of three separate dancing and aerobics by entities connected via 24-hour the pool. At the occasional chaperone vans, the comfort boom of the speakers, some and luxury here verges on the sunbathers growled with grotesque. distaste, while others got Andrew and Juli in Mexico But I’m not complaining. jiggy with it. The spa resembles the Hanging At sunset, we bathed with strawberry Gardens of Babylon, with twisting waterfalls, daiquiris in outdoor Jacuzzis before strolling hot and cold rows of water and underwater along the illuminated paths and bridges that hydro-massage beds. The swimming pools at connect the fountains, streams and bandstand. the various hotels are no less impressive, with The saxophonist’s renditions of everything a Gaudi-esque pool in a jungle parting and an from Louis Armstrong to Nirvana was an ideal infinity pool overlooking the beach. accompaniment to the moonlit views on the Again, we made our way through the interterraces of the pre-dinner bars. national restaurants, each of which seemed Among the highlights was the food. Six to surpass the last and our room – a standard restaurants with their own themes (Asian, deluxe – had a bed as large as a flat. A double Mexican, Italian, etc) ensure your taste buds Jacuzzi separates the polished bathroom from are in for a ride. Again, that intimate feeling the bedroom, while the balcony has its own is invoked by interactions with the chefs, bed overlooking a river and tropical forest. who personally design your meals.The sense On a tour of the resort, we saw the presidential of community is a real winner here and we rooms, which have ocean-facing Jacuzzis on were astonished by how many people were the balconies and enormous TVs. Even the on return visits. Most sunbathers by the view from the toilet (of the hotel’s mangrove hotel’s three main pools were on their sixth forest) was inspiring. or seventh. And nothing could have prepared This hotel welcomes children, but the us for meeting a retired Jewish couple (Mark complex is large enough to hold several adultsand Deena Sherman) celebrating their sixtieth only areas. As for the teens, Richie Rich would time, dancing and enjoying the limelight to be proud of the games room. It has individual rapturous applause. booths for 4D simulators on games consoles, Why do they come back? “They know enormous TV screens à la Minority Report, us here, they treat us like royalty.” non-alcoholic cocktail lessons, break-dancing... Even with 59 to go, we could Although we’d never tire of this hotel, it was relate. (Although 60 is a bit unfortunately time to move on. much isn’t it?)

Grand Velas

The attention is so close, the archi-

Top: Secrets The Vine Above: Royal Hideaway Right: Grand Velas

CANCUN Secrets The Vine

This adults-only resort is one of the behemoths on the narrow strip that makes up Cancun’s hotel zone. It’s a city beach hotel, as opposed to the vast complexes of Playa del Carmen. We were welcomed with the customary champagne glasses in a large and lively lobby, the low light from its fireplaces shimmering on the extensive marble and glass. Open and airy, it leads to the pools, the canals of which zigzag through the sunbathing area. Live music blasts from speakers, while lobster-like revellers gobble down pints and cocktails in the pool. Others play water volleyball and the communal feel suggests this is perhaps a place

for groups and singletons. During our stay, we went to the Greek and Italian restaurants where the food and service were decent, but we had to wait around 15 to 30 minutes to be seated in this busy resort. Not as artisanal and personal as the Playa del Carmen resorts, but in line with the lower price of the hotel, there is luxury within reach for those who desire it. The hotel invites you to upgrade to its special section on the higher floors, with its own infinity pool and breakfast room. But with a maze of warm pools, fun cocktail bars and an elegant lobby café, us downstairs folk were happy to make do without the frills.

Club Med

Most hotels revolve around the customer. Make no mistake: at Club Med, the customer revolves around the hotel. We swapped the catered meals and personal concierges for buffets and reception queues. They let you get on with it, picking out your favourite activities and learning new skills. And we had a blast. For a hotel aimed at family with young children, I must say this was the most fun I’ve had in years. Not bad for an infamous grouch approaching my thirties. Our Mexican guide, Francisco, informed us the resort was set up during the infancy of Cancun’s hotel boom and it’s clear they chose the best location. Of all the hotels, the beach here was the most private, with the tamest water and stillest breeze – a picture of serenity serving as the perfect foil for the crazy activities. We packed so many of them into our three-day stay, it all passed as a bit of a blur. One minute we were shooting arrows, the next learning to flip up and down on the trapeze, before snorkelling and waterskiing. I even managed to stay upright for all of three seconds. It was while lying on my back in the water, waiting for the boat to pick me up, that I noticed the multitude of signs declaring: “Beware: crocodiles”. But the crocs had nothing to fear from one very happy vacationer.  All of the Mexico hotels are available as packages from West End Travel and Thomson, with flights from £1,200 per person depending on the season.

2 February 2017 Jewish News



Family adventure / Travel

Dear Mexico, a ed 50 - and Riviera May rn tu I e! nc fe i rie l pe y m ex in an e t on Wha t you to mark a milest sive We finally came to visi ur of us to the all-incllaurger fo e th t go ne i l . m ng i ea l Dr ca was s aboard a Thomsonthe small town of Puerto Morelos and the w A comfortable ten ho, ur cated just north of(28 degrees Celsius), but it’s remarkable hobit of o l rt so re i or at ns Se l Azu b (thank you!) was ahome. you are hot, Mexico Playa del Carmen. Boolys you down. Our family suite with a hottitu before we left es ti vi co ac il w ta fe ck a co ed a y ok l bo quick p-wiring, swimming in a lot as I had zi t g ou rin e fe er of w e e l w ng t ju bu an e, ay a squeez rk, a unique area of clMes. pa r o pl X e th as w up t hi Firs amphibious ve - but 2.4 miles of r d es an ti s vi ft ti ra ac s, of er t riv ou d t op un fo to undergro would be easy for mcee I was 147 feet in the air, it was too late it r, he ot m e th as , w No cry. h fun to resist and, on zip-wires was too mucd it was amazing. For the record, I didnd’tchose the faster zip-wire second thoughts - an hters, Chloe and Olivia, had no fears an The rest of that day was spent Obviously, my daug em through a waterfal and into a pool. ite formations that have course, which took thrground rivers with stalactite and stalaegmfabulous buffet lunch which swimming in the undee past 65 million years, and consuming th been carved over thpark price ( £110 pe r pe rs on ). Mayan jungle and e th s ne bi e m co th in ch d hi w de , u rk was incl as spent at Xcaret Pa Our second day out wexciting attractions ( £78 pe r pe rs on ). tless beautiful moths flit culture of Mexico in it50es was the Butterfly Pavilion, where counmustn’t forget the turtles One of our favour land on you if you stand still.. Oh and I s, spider monkeys, jaguars and among waterfal s ansdin Mexico - together with parrots, flamingo and get a turtle! g do r ou h tc di ie to d ec sp te an a protected int Olivia decided shetow Morelos, where dreams of swimming po is th at as w It s. er manatee on ). was at Delphinus in Pu Our ultimate day ouuet for Chloe and Olivia (approx £13 5 pe r peonrsof the sea by giving the with dolphins came trtiful location that promotes the conservatithe ‘couples dream’swim, which Delphinus is a beau nty of space to swim. Chloe and Olivia did ead of the leap that took the bottlenose dolphins pleing, hugging and dancing with the dolphins, d,ahafter this amazing experience, is 60 minutes of kiss ads. The lead dolphin was cal ed Pepem an could say Mexico has given them dolphins over their heay in touch with him and his friends. You the girls vowed to st at, and so many reasons, I want to say a ‘porpoise’and for th Thanks for a lovely trip, Diane Head Office: 4-6 Canfield Place, London NW6 3BT 020 7644 1500 Email: admin@westendtravel.co.uk Edgware Office: 70 Edgware Way, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 8JS 020 8958 3188 Email: info@westendtravel.co.uk. www.westendtravel.co.uk

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Jewish News 2 February 2017

Travel / Special holiday

KOSHER TRAVEL keeps getting better

Reinventing kosher travel for Jews around the world since 2008, David and Chana Walles provide “unparalleled adventures” to kosher travellers. Constantly innovating, the powerhouse couple are expanding their exotic destination offers in 2017 to include Japan, Galapagos, China, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Alaska and the Caribbean. Although people and travel were always their passions, the Walles were not looking to run a travel company as they considered aliyah eight years ago. But a fortuitous meeting during their pilot trip to Israel led them to become the new owners of Eddie’s Kosher Travel, one of the most respected operators in the Jewish world. Currently, David is the general manager and CEO, while Chana manages the marketing and Passover programmes. They work out of a home office and employ a staff of six. “The travel and tour operation business is definitely a lot of hard work, but it’s gratifying to see that we have enabled people from all over the world, especially families who don’t

live near one another, to come to our Pesach hotels and spend time together,” says Chana. Year-round offers include deluxe cruises, exotic land tours and European summer vacations for the discerning observant Jewish traveller in search of an enriching experience, world-class kosher cuisine, and unparalleled personal service. This Pesach, Eddie’s Kosher Travel is offering high-end holidays at the Ramada Suites in Netanya, the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, and The Grand Hotel in the Italian Alps. The popularity of their programmes has even resulted in a few marriages. Most recently, a young man from Pittsburg and a young woman from London met at their Pesach hotel. Constantly paying attention to what’s happening on the ground, the Walles are beginning to incorporate ‘meet-ups’ between young adults in a casual and fun manner to encourage more marriages. Wanting to ensure personalised service for all travellers, the couple relies

mostly on word of mouth and doesn’t want the business to get so big that it loses its personal touch. “A wise family friend of ours in Australia once told me that if you have a good name, you never need to advertise, and I try to keep that in mind,” said David.  For further information, visit kosher travelers. com

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2 February 2017 Jewish News



Vamos a la playa / Travel

RIMINI’S Dolce Vita If you want to get hold of Stephanie Viner this summer, try calling the Grand Hotel in Rimini. Better still, go there – as the hotel that first opened its doors more than 100 years ago is the place to head this summer for the ultimate Italian Riveria experience. Our supplements editor has memories of falling in love with a waiter at the Hotel MarePineta in Milano Marittima, which I shared with an amused Stephanie, who has as many stories of her own about the resort that is now her second home. “The Grand has a unique history and been host to so many famous people,” she says, citing Princess Diana,

Christiaan Barnard, ex-President Gorbachev, Sharon Stone and Sophia Loren as glittering examples. “And film director Federico Fellini was in almost permanent residence and based one of his most famous films, Amarcord, on his memories of the building from when he was a young child growing up in Rimini.” Not that you have to be a star to stay at The Grand or the MarePineta, as both play host to entire Italian families who descend for the month of August, along with families from the UK who can’t stop coming back. What is so unique about a summer holiday at The Grand and now the MarePinenta? Stephanie explains: “The Grand Hotel is

situated in Rimini which, as you know, is a typical buzzy Italian resort. The hotel itself is like an oasis of calm and has its own private beach, which is the only one on the entire coastline.” The MarePineta, which opened in 1927, is in a smaller, more intimate resort that is perfect for tennis players as it has 10 private courts. But the formidable ages of both properties has not prevented them from keeping up with the times, as they have all modern comforts (air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi access, etc) and kids’ clubs operating in July and August. “Both resorts cater for all ages and I do mean from eight to 80,” says Stephanie,

Celebrate Passover holiday in an ancient, treasured land.

Experience a luxurious Passover family holiday by the Mediterranean Sea, at The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya. Enjoy special meals and packages. Last suites available. Visit ritzcarlton.com/Herzliya Offer valid through April 2, 2017 subject to availability. Rate is per room/per night, based on single or double occupancy, exclusive of taxes, gratuities, fees and other charges; does not apply to groups; cannot be combined with any other offer and is not applicable for Rewards redemption. Advanced reservations are required. ©2017 The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

who fell in love with Italy while working for Alitalia. “There are shops, cafes, water parks, children’s playgrounds and organised visits to nearby cities of historical interest.” There really is something for everyone and the summer packages that include half-board also offer a limited number of free places for children sharing a room with their parents. Stephanie says rates are so diverse you need to call her for a quote as room types, number of people and the dates you wish to travel will determine the price.  For further information, call 020 8346 4742 or email Stephanie at unitextravel@hotmail.com



Jewish News 2 February 2017

Travel / Luxury kosher

Reasons to choose


Fittingly for a travel agent, Yehuda Vered is always travelling. He had just returned from a “crazy week” in Greece when Jewish News caught up with him, but he is incredibly busy planning Pesach in Halkidiki (northern Greece), Croatia and France. So what do you need to know about Vered Holidays before joining the company on a trip? “We started the company for Pesach 2001,” explains Yehuda. “Our inaugural trip was in Vittel, France, with French as well as Belgian guests.” Since then, Vered Holidays has increased

The delights awaiting you in Halkidiki on a luxury Passover holiday

the number of guests it looks after and upgraded the category of hotels it uses as well as the gastronomy. “And,” adds Yehuda,“we exchanged our French crowd for an English gathering.” Ultimately, Yehuda likes to go to countries around the Mediterranean because “we have done a lot of research and know them well”. Knowing the destinations thoroughly is another reason to choose Vered. “We pay close attention to personal attitude, we know all our

clients by name, but always make sure they feel like guests.As the organisers, we are the first to arrive and the last to leave”. The company has adopted top-level kashrut, but the atmosphere is modern Orthodox. “We have created a meeting point for families split between the diaspora and Israel at properties that serve good, fresh food prepared daily by Israeli chefs,” chirps Yehuda. With amazing day trips and rates, which Yehuda insists are the best in the market for five-star resorts, guests enjoy a cantorial show during Chol Hamoed performed by the “best cantors” as well as local folklore shows. You might even catch a stand-up or a mentalist at the Porto Carras Grand Resort in Halkidiki, which also has two spa centres, an 18-hole golf course, a horse riding academy, tennis club and clubs for children aged three to 13. There is even a club for teenagers. Exactly the same facilities are available, along with the seders, at the Rixos Libertas in Dubrovnik, or you can enjoy a stay at the Grand Hotel Du Hohwald, in Alsace, France.  Visit vered-holidays.com or call 020 7048 3290

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2 February 2017 Jewish News



Dream vacation / Travel

Create your own

HOLIDAY Bespoke Kosher Travel founder Ben Robbins reveals how he makes vacation magic happen

‘They say that people who are passionate, and can stand by the products they sell, run the most successful businesses. I took this suggestion rather literally when I asked myself the golden question: “Ben, what do you love most in the world?” and the answer rolled off my tongue without a moment’s hesitation: “Food and going on holiday... obviously.” And so Bespoke Kosher Travel was born. Jokes aside, I realised that for kosher travellers like myself, the world has boundaries. We can’t spontaneously hop onto a plane bound for just any exotic destination. We are Jews, which by definition means that we: A. Need to plan our holidays around the availability of kosher food and B: Prioritise food above most other things. Even though a few cans of tuna and a creative approach to holiday eating is absolutely doable wherever you go, it is much nicer to experience other countries and eat tasty meals, without having to choose one or the other. I understood that providing my services to fellow food-loving kosher travellers was a perfect way to fill the gap and eliminate the ‘either or’ scenario of satisfied tummies or gorgeous sunsets. And the minute I made my services known, the need I had suspected became blindingly obvious. My team grew, and so did the scope of our work. The majority of our trips were based in Europe and America, but every new request brought a new challenge and a growing portfolio of cities in which our contacts are ever expanding. We have organised kosher tours to Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and Thailand, to name a few. Not to mention

our tours to South Africa and neighbouring Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), as well as the sand dunes of Namibia. These trips are becoming increasingly popular, and while I’d like to take all the credit, our clients and their Instagram accounts are the real heroes in this story. Thanks to all the selfies, our phones keep ringing. But while a picture is worth a thousand words, I want future clients to know that my vision for this company has always been to work with them – you – in creating the holiday they want. We don’t sell cookie cutter tours, nor do we intend to. Our value is in meeting your personal needs, in all aspects of your trip, including food, accommodation, transport, guides, activities and of course, Shabbat – and all the practicalities involved in creating a seamless and special Shabbat experience. We offer a range of services, from simple meal deliveries for business trips to romantic honeymoons, family trips and large organised tours for 40 people or more. We listen to our clients and focus on getting the details right. We also treat you to your own personal travel assistant, on hand, throughout the planning, booking and the trip itself, making sure that everything runs smoothly. My dream holiday involves a remote beach, real sunshine, lounge chair, nice fresh salad and 400g fillet on the side. But because we get a kick out of making things possible, we invite our clients to dream up their own fantasy holidays…  To discuss more on how we can help you, call 020 3151 1660, email ben@bespokekoshertravel.com or visit bespokekoshertravel.com

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Above: Instagram selfies clients have sent to Ben and the beach where you can eat kosher

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Includes all taxes, baggage handling, on-board meals and carrier imposed surcharges. Taxes subject to exchange rate fluctuation and choice of UK airport and are correct at time of advert publication. Limited capacity, selected flights only. Offer is combinable with other half round-trip fares. Minimum stay to include one Saturday night. For departures until 28 March 2017 and from 26 April - 30 June 2017. Car hire: Budget / Suzuki Alto A/C or similar.



Jewish News 2 February 2017


23-25 NACHMANI ST. TEL-AVIV 6579441 ISRAEL TEL +972 3 543 5555 THENORMAN.COM

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city. We toured the Colosseum and the Vatican, we visited the Villa Borghese and the Trevi Fountain. We walked up the Spanish Steps and around Trastevere (the trendy left bank). We ate pasta and ice cream, we drank cappuccinos and prosecco, we window-shopped and proper-shopped. And then, true to form, we visited the Jewish Ghetto. The Ghetto was established in 1555 near the Tiber River in the southern part of Campo de’ Fiori. In the early days, there were laws about what professions Jews could hold. One of the accepted professions was that of selling fish, and streets in the area still have fish-related names. The original Jewish Ghetto (known simply as the Roman Ghetto) was walled-in and crowded, and subject to regular flooding by the Tiber. It was a grim place to live. After the unification of Italy in 1870, the

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Louisa Walters visits Rome’s Jewish ghetto My husband has a mishigas whenever we travel anywhere that we must seek the Jewish interest. This is how we chanced upon the second oldest synagogue in the US (in Charleston, yes really) and went to Friday night services in Mumbai together with women in saris. It will come as no surprise that there is a Jewish Quarter in Rome, but a whole street of kosher restaurants – this was an eye-opener. And in among all the phenomenal Italian food on offer in Rome, it’s the Jewish Ghetto that can claim one of the best dishes – deep fried artichokes (carciofo alla giudia). These are to the Rome Ghetto what smoked salmon bagels are to Golders Green – you simply don’t leave the area without having them. My husband and I spent four days in Rome last spring. It was our first visit to the emerald

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yaD giB Jews were granted citizenship, meaning they no longer had to live within the ghetto, and the walls were torn down. The crowded labyrinth of streets was replaced by four simple blocks of thoroughfares and squares and the area now commands some of the highest property prices in Rome. The Great Synagogue of Rome – the Tempio Maggiore di Roma – is the largest synagogue in the city and one of the largest in Italy. However, it’s not that old – the original ghetto synagogue was torn down at the end of the 19th century and this new one was completed in 1904. That’s modern by Roman standards. The Jews wanted an impressive-looking building to celebrate their freedom and they made sure they got one. It’s a majestic edifice and the aluminium dome is the only squared dome in the city, making the building easily identifiable even from a distance. The synagogue basement houses the Jewish Museum, which has an impressive collection of silverware, textiles and marble carvings and tells the history of the Jews in Rome and the Ghetto. Included in the visit to the museum is a visit to the synagogue, which is still in use. In 1982, the synagogue was the subject of an anti-Semitic attack when Palestinian militants stormed the building and sprayed the congregation with machine fire and grenades, killing one and wounding many. Now the shul is watched over by security guards. During Nazi occupation, the German government proclaimed that Rome’s Jews would be spared deportation to the concentration camps if a gold ransom was paid. Many in the city, including The Vatican, donated their gold but even though the required amount was raised, Nazi soldiers entered the neighbourhood on 16 October 1943 and deported more than 1,000 people. Only 16 survived. You can book onto a guided tour of the Ghetto, but we downloaded the Rick Steves app

onto our iPhones and toured using this, which took roughly an hour. In sharp contrast to the rest of the city, the Ghetto is a tranquil area. It combines Jewish culture with the grandeur of Roman architecture. At one end, the ruins of the enormous ancient Portico d’Ottavia rise from 20 feet below street level. Originally home to a temple and a library, it was used as a fish market in the medieval period up to the end of the 19th century. The Turtle Fountain is a late Renaissance structure, originally built as a drinking fountain. The water was sourced from the Acqua Vergine, one of Rome’s first aquaducts. There are 15 churches in the area, including the famous Chiesa di Santa Maria del Pianto. The Ghetto has lost most of its Jewish inhabitants (there are only 13,000 Jews remaining in Rome), however it is home to Jewish bookstores, bakeries and many restaurants. We lunched at Nonna Betta, where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously left no tip when lunched there with his wife during their honeymoon in 2012. There was a Jewish family group celebrating the grandfather’s birthday at the next table, and a group of Japanese tourists devouring the famous Jewish artichokes at the table across the room. Boxes of matzah were piled high in the bakery (Passover was approaching) and macaroons were being baked on-site. Sound familiar? That’s the thing about seeking out the Jewish interest when abroad – it connects you with home.  Where to eat: Nonna Betta, Ba’Ghetto (milky), La Taverna del Ghetto, Ristorante Piperno (more high end), Su Ghetto, BellaCarne, Yesh Sheni (fast food) Where to stay: J.K. Place How to tour: (Rome in general) georgiadarell.co.uk, (Jewish Ghetto) jewishroma.com; ricksteves.com (general/Jewish)

2 February 2017 Jewish News



Meet Eli Danzig / Travel



Eli Danzig is managing director of Kosher Holidays Ltd – and he loves it. His company website is one of the easiest you will ever navigate as the icons are simple and concise. Want a summer vacation? Simply press the sun. Fancy an organised tour? Then click on the bus. Eli has done many jobs in his life, but since 1998, travel has become his thing and in particular the kosher lemehadrin hotel that he operates

at Sirmione on Lake Garda in Italy. “We operate as a regular travel agency specialising in holidays for religious and traditional people, but also as a tour operator and we organise kosher holidays by ourselves,” says Eli, who takes clients all over Europe, but with a focus on Italy. There are enough returning guests who have become friends but, more importantly, their loyalty shows Eli is doing something right. All the more remarkable is

the fact that he runs everything from his offices in Ra’anana in Israel, which is home, although Italy is somewhere he loves. “In Sirmione, it is enjoyable to walk along the narrow and crowded lanes of the old town, where there are plenty of tourist shops, coffee and ice cream bars to sit in and enjoy the lake view,” waxes Eli. “Our hotel is just along the beach on the coastal road between Pescheria and Sirmione

and has 12 rooms that are a combination of doubles, triples and more.” All rooms are equipped with mini-bar, safe, satellite TV, Wi-Fi and private bathrooms with shower. “There is a very big and elegant meaty restaurant, a milky coffee shop with annexed pizzeria and a grocery with food products,” informs Eli. “You may also order takeaway meals and the hotel is surrounded by a big, marvellous park, with the beach located a few meters from the hotel.” The hotel has a kosher lemehadrin kitchen under the supervision of Rav Yechezkel Shainfeld from Bnei Brak. Eli is also able to offer the luxurious Residence Villa Onofria, located just beside the hotel – but you will need to be quick as there is limited availability. Eli hopes you will join him.  Call 020 8123 8676 kosherholidays.net hotelokh.com


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Jewish News 2 February 2017

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WARMEST Pesach holidays in Europe

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JN Travel Supplement issue 988  

JN Travel Supplement issue 988  

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